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COGS 3750 (3)

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York University
Cognitive Science
COGS 3750
Rebecca Jubis

1 Modes of Reasoning – Lecture 16 I – Animal Rights: Further Examination • We’ve begun our examination of moral issues with a discussion of the topic of animal rights. -What sorts of rights, if any, do non-human animals have in the way of treatment? • The first two philosophers we discussed, Feinberg and Singer, settled on the animal rights side of this debate: animals have the full (i.e., Singer) or at least a core (i.e., Feinberg) set of rights, including the right to be treated with basic respect and consideration. • This week we will continue our examination of the issue of animal rights by discussing two more philosophers’ positions on the issue, Crisp and Harrison. • These two philosophers, unlike Feinberg and Singer, settle mostly on the anti-animal rights side of the animal rights debate (with some important qualifications): animals do not have a full or even necessarily core set of rights in the way of treatment. 2 II – Crisp on Animal Rights • Crisp is a well-known and highly respected Oxford philosopher who has written in the area of theoretical and applied ethics. • He advances a highly sophisticated argument in favour of a position he calls ‘the compromise requirement view’: one is morally required both to abstain from eating the flesh of intensively reared animals and to eat the flesh of certain non-intensively-reared animals. • Crisp starts with utilitarian premises, that some version or another of utilitarianism is the preferred moral theory, and then tries to establish the correctness of the compromise requirement view. • Crisp’s compromise requirement view opposes, in some ways, the view endorsed by Singer– the view according to which animals have a full set of rights (equal to humans) – and the view which was starting to take hold in the public debate. • Crisp thus faced a significant obstacle in defending his view. 3 • Crisp lays out the main positions in the animal rights debate. • It may be helpful to review these. (1) Vegetarianism (V): one is morally required to abstain from eating meat (i.e., the flesh of any animals). (2) The Compromise Permission View (CP): one is morally required to abstain from eating the flesh of intensively reared animals, but permitted to eat the flesh of certain non-intensively-reared animals. (3) The Compromise Requirement View (CR): one is morally required both to abstain from eating the flesh of intensively reared animals and to eat the flesh of certain non-intensively-reared animals. (4) The Raymond Frey View (RF): one is morally permitted to eat all kinds of meat, but required to campaign against intensive farming, by means such as political lobbying. (5) The Full Meat-eating Requirement View (FR): one is morally required to eat all kinds of meat. 4 • As mentioned, Crisp defends (CR). • This is a unique view, and Crisp defends it in a unique way. -What’s unique about Crisp’s defense of (CR) is that he doesn’t take the usual route of trying to refute the sentience of animals (the fact that they are conscious). -On the contrary, Crisp claims that once we start with utilitarian principles, reason dictates that we should reject the vegetarian position in favour of (CR), even assuming animals are sentient. -Moreover, he thinks that (RF), (CP) and (FR) can be rejected. 5 • How does Crisp’s argument go? -First of all, Crisp thinks (RF) and (FR) are precluded by the fact that animals have sentience; his grounds for thinking animals are sentient are similar to those of Feinberg and Singer – empirical grounds. -Insofar as animals are sentient they can experience pain and suffering. -This means that any intensive farming practices, e.g., living in close quarters, being caged, not being fed properly, etc., lead to the pain and suffering of animals who are subjected to them. -Since avoiding intensive farming practices would incur relatively minor costs in comparison with the suffering it leads to, we have a moral obligation to avoid such practices. -Thus, according to Crisp, any position which permits the eating of animals reared in such ways, such as (RF), (CP) and (FR) is illegitimate and should be rejected. 6 • Secondly, there is (V): why should we reject (V) in favour of (CR)? -According to Crisp, contra (V) and in accord with (CR), we should be required to eat the meat of certain animals not intensively reared. -The reason is that such animals endure relatively little suffering or loss. -The main loss they experience is the loss of pleasure,
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