The Ethics of Ideal Animal Farming



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Industrial animal farming has been rejected in academic as well as non-academic spheres for several reasons, in particular its negative impact on animal welfare and the environment. As an alternative, people have turned to “organic,” “small scale,” and “local” animal farming, treating it as an ethical solution to many, or perhaps all, of the problems caused by industrial animal farming. However, Tom Regan’s paper, “The Case for Animal Rights,” and Christine Korsgaard’s paper, “Getting Animals in View,” note that there is something morally wrong that happens when we use animals—both human and non-human—as resources. Therefore, Regan and Korsgaard’s arguments seem to ultimately reject any kind of animal farming, including “organic,” “small scale,” and “local” animal farming. In this thesis, I use these two papers by Regan and Korsgaard as well as Peter Singer’s paper, “All Animals Are Equal,” as the foundation of my own argument. I introduce the ideal animal farm as the perfect animal farm which is ethical and ideal in every way we might want it to be, and I argue that even ideal animal farms can be unethical because of what Regan and Korsgaard note in their papers. I identify exploitation as a necessary part of many cases of animal farming, and I argue that exploiting non-human animals is always morally wrong. I am additionally interested in the stark contrast between our treatment of humans and non-human animals, even in ideal farms, which implies that exploiting a human is morally worse than exploiting a non-human animal. This thesis looks closely at what I think are the strongest arguments and explanations in defense of this contrast in treatment, and I ultimately conclude that the defenses are not strong enough to justify systemically treating non-human animals, and not humans, as resources.



Animal and food ethics