Graun (The Guardian) Struggles with Animal Ethics, Again

Oh dear. More fuzzy thinking on animal ethics and veganism by Graun writers. This time it’s the philosopher, Julian Baggini. For example, he writes

For instance, in my early 20s, I adopted a pescetarian diet, not because I was convinced it was a rigorously defensible position, but because I did not think it was acceptable to eat animals indiscriminately and this seemed to be a reasonable interim position.

Baggini then goes onto say that he subsequently developed his position.

When I concluded that it was inconsistent to refuse to eat beef on animal welfare grounds, yet drink milk from animals treated no better than those destined to become steaks, I started buying my dairy products from sources which offered some welfare guarantees. Organic certification became the usual imperfect proxy.

Sadly, the article demonstrates the old adage that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. His take on animal ethics pivots on pain. There’s no reference to the debate about animals being subjects of a life. So, there’s diversionary thinking such as this.

The simplest and clearest motivation for taking animal welfare seriously is the recognition that pain is in and of itself a bad thing, and that to inflict significant amounts of it unnecessarily is wrong. Of course, until you cash out “significant” and “unnecessarily”, the principle remains vague, but without these qualifications, the rule is a clearly nonsense.

Huh? Well, this all makes sense when Baggini concludes

These further reasons seem to me to be in short supply for almost all animals. To be on the safe side, I’d rather avoid killing primates, pigs, whales, elephants and the like. But cows, sheep, poultry and most fish seem to live entirely in the moment, and the only harm I could do to them would be to cause them distress while alive. So I continue to try to find liveable rules of thumb that help me to avoid this.

And if I fail, I really do not think that’s so bad. If I hammer my own thumb while doing some DIY, it’s not nice, but it’s not the end of the world. To care obsessively about similar levels of discomfort in animals seems to be a case of mistaken moral priorities.

Mistaken moral priorities? Hammering my own thumb is not nice? Cows live in the moment but pigs don’t? Huh? And double huh?

Can we have a translation, please?

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