In a 2-3 page essay please write a Deontological (Kantian) and Utilitarian analysis of the Ethics of What We Eat. As always, be specific in your analysis! Use specific examples from the text and a direct application of the normative principles. Lastly, apply Virtue Ethics to the Dan Barber videos.

To make it very clear, there should be an introduction, conclusion, and in the body there should be three sections as listed above.

Ethics of Food and Kant

File:Francisco de Goya - Still Life with Golden Bream - Google Art Project.jpgFrancisco de Goya, Still Life with Golden Bream (1808)

Goals:

  1. Consider the Western world’s relationship with animals, food production, and global regulations
  2. Apply Kantian ethics to every day decision making about food

To Do:

  1. Read the required texts
  2. 2-3 page paper on the ethics of food from a Kantian, Utilitarian, and Virtue Ethics perspective

Kant’s moral philosophy, beginning with a consideration of his understanding of the role of duty in the moral life. His ethical theory rests on four central insights. The first two of these insights state the conditions for a morally good act:

  • An action has moral worth if it is done for the sake of duty.
  • An action is morally correct if its maxim can be willed as a universal law.

Actions that have both moral worth and moral correctness are morally good actions. In addition to these two insights, Kant develops a third and fourth claim about the way in which we ought to act in order to respect both ourselves and other people:

  • We should always treat humanity. whether in ourselves or other people. always as an end in itself and never merely as a means to an end.
  • Kant’s concept of the Kingdom of Ends requires that people act as if the principles of their actions establish a law for a hypothetical kingdom. (Would you be willing to act as a citizen in this society which you created?)

These are the three pillars on which Kant’s ethics rests: duty, universalizability, and respect. Kant also distinguished between perfect and imperfect duties. A perfect duty, such as the duty not to lie, always holds true; an imperfect duty, such as the duty to give to charity, can be made flexible and applied in particular time and place.

This theory is called deontology which means the study of duty. It is also a non-consequentialist theory which means that it does not depend upon the conclusion but on the right acts. An act’s moral worth depends on the reason for which it is done. It is not enough that an act conforms to duty; it must also be done for the sake of duty. It must be done out of concern for what is morally right, not out of some self-serving motive. Within deontology, one can never claim, the ends justify the means. The means are always important.

From Kant, we go back to Singer, a utilitarian writer on the Ethics of What We Eat. Singer became popular with his 1975 ground breaking book Animal Liberation… note that it was not titled “Animal Rights” since he is a good utilitarian a Bentham called “rights” nonsense on stilts. Animal Liberation gave a utilitarian argument for the humane treatment of animals and ultimately the abolition of the meat industry. In Singer’s 2006 Ethics of What We Eat, he takes a middle path approach to meat consumption. Animal agriculture and meat consumption are significant contributors to global warming. One of the main ways in which the livestock sector contributes to global warming is through deforestation caused by expansion of pasture land and arable land used to grow feed crops. Animal agriculture is also a significant source of other greenhouse gases. For example, ruminant animals like cattle produce methane, which is a greenhouse gas about 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The livestock sector is responsible for about 37% of human-caused methane emissions, and about 65% of human nitrous oxide emissions (mainly from manure), globally (UN FAO). In addition to the greenhouse gases are the diminishing species worldwide, the destruction of the coral reefs, and the cost to human health. The proper use of nature for human use is not simply a matter of being good but necessary for the survival of the human race.

 
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