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Puppies, Pigs, and People: Eating Meat and Marginal Cases
Alastair J. Norcross, Associate Professor, Philosophy Department, Rice University
date:4:00PM   to   5:00PM   US Central (GMT −0500)
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
length:1 hour, 0 minutes
location:McMurtry Auditorium, Duncan Hall
sponsor:SCIENTIA: an Institute for the History of Science and Culture

Suppose that in order to enjoy the taste of chocolate you had to torture puppies. Despite the undeniable significance of gustatory pleasure, you would not be morally justified in torturing puppies to pursue it. In this lecture, I argue that those who purchase and consume factory-raised meat are in the same moral position as someone who tortures puppies merely for the pleasure of chocolate. I consider and reject several attempts to show that the puppy torturer's actions are morally worse than those of the meat eater. I also argue that any attempt to justify the claim that humans have a higher moral status than other animals by appealing to some version of rationality as the morally relevant difference between humans and animals will fail on at least two counts. It will fail to give an adequate answer to the argument from marginal cases, and, more importantly, it will fail to make the case that such a difference is morally relevant to the status of animals as moral patients as opposed to their status as moral agents.

Hanoch Sheinman, Assistant Professor, Philosophy Dept., Rice University
Joan E. Strassmann, Professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Dept., Rice University

(reception after colloquium)
Lecture is free and open to the public.

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