Ethics Factory Farming

Grade 12 TOK
3, December, 2016
Ethics  Factory Farming

Paula Joanne Stenseth

If you eat meat, there is a very high chance that what you’re eating was born and raised inside a factory, while the truck ride to the butchery is the most fresh air they are allowed to have. Humans have been eating meat for an estimated 2.5 million years, unnecessary but completely natural, according to One Green Planet and several other sources, “99.9 percent of chickens used for meat, 99 percent of turkeys, 95 percent of pigs, and 78 percent of cattle come from factory farms” (How Undercover Investigations are Changing Public Perception of the Meat Industry, 2014). So where does the different variation of ethics play a role in this moral issue?

Consequentialism is the theory that if something causes more good than any other action, then it is morally good. In the case of factory farming, the negatives outweigh the positives by far. For example, a free range farm that is owned by a smaller business is more likely to have treated the animals more humanely, allowing them to live a natural, happy life until they were butchered, while a factory farm was to cram thousands of animals into tight enclosures, which is completely unnatural and distressing, making the animals short life miserable.
It is strongly argued that meat from factory farms are possibly making people obese and sick due to the hormones pumped into the animals, antibiotics and unnatural feed they eat. To expand on the unnatural food factory farm animals eat, it is full of pesticides which continue to build up within your body, potentially becoming a serious health hazard. “Each year 76 million Americans become ill from food borne illness, and thousands die.” (Factory Farming and Human Health, 2016) so according to consequentialism, it is morally wrong to support factory farming. Factory farming provides a considerable amount of jobs, which is necessary for a 21st century human. Sometimes people are forced to resort to working in these types of conditions in order to provide for their family or themselves even though factory farming is a job that could become deadly. It is possible people could lose their jobs if factory farming did not exist, they could find a better, safer job and put their time and energy into work that would improve the world instead of destroying it.

Humans often consider themselves the “dominant species” because we think we are at the top of the food chain due to our large mental capacity. We put our species before any other which of course is understandable, but since we are the smarter species, is it our responsibility to know well enough to treat others with respect including ourselves? We are animals, but the only species that managed to do so severe damage to planet earth.
Those who have duty based ethics focus on what people are doing, not really paying attention to the consequences of this action. The matter of factory farming is strongly constructed on whether a person believes hurting animals is right or wrong. There is no argument on the negative effects of producing and consuming meat, those who follow these ethics live in the moment, not considering that the long term effects doesn’t just hurt animals but our planet and the people living on it.  Within this ethic, it’s hard to determine what their views are on it, since it is based on their morals and there isn’t a universal moral to not torture and kill an animal for food. Some may argue factory farming is justified, seeing that meat feeds people, while others may argue it is wrong considering it’s against their morals to hurt a living thing. It really depends on personal belief. Which begins to tie into Supernaturalism, ethics which heavily rely on your personal beliefs.
Supernaturalism (God based ethics) is based on whether something is religiously correct or not. There is a variety of religions that have specific rules on animals and consuming meat. In the Christian religion there are several verses mentioning the farming of animals within the bible

“For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 3:19  
This one verse out of many, states that animals should never be taken advantage of for we are all equal. God created animals, allowing humans to consume their meat but must be treated with respect. Factory farming goes completely against this verse since God never intended for humans to force these animals into such miserable conditions. Hinduism is also a religion that has specific views on the treatment towards animals. Hinduism does not have a strict diet of vegetarianism but the Hindu holy books have several verses explaining that to slaughter and kill an animal is wrong.
“Those who permit slaying of animals, those who bring animals for slaughter, those who slaughter, those who sell meat, those who purchase meat, those who prepare dish out of it, those who serve that meat and those who eat are all murderers.” Manusmrithi 5.51 (Vedas)
Hinduism and Christianity are just two out of many religions that are not in support of animals abuse, but many people also argue that animals do not have souls, making their moral rights completely invalid even though it is not possible to know what creatures have a soul and which do not. Coming from someone who follows the Christian belief, I do not eat meat and avoid hurting animals as much as possible, not only do I believe it is wrong, I also consider it a sin.

In most countries, humans do not eat animals which are considered “domestic pets” such as cats and dogs. If you were to eat a dog in the United States or other westernized countries, it is extremely frowned upon to eat a pet, you could even go to jail for several years. During the Yulin dog meat festival based in China, thousands of people protest against the mass consumption of dogs; though this is a way of life for many chinese citizens, it’s wrong because it is a dog.
Humans have deemed ourselves the dominant species that can choose what is right and wrong to eat and what animals have rights and which do not. Pigs have a greater mental capacity than dogs do, they have a wider range of emotions and can outsmart a dog any day. I always question what the difference between a dog and pig is apart from their features. People who eat meat would often respond with something along the lines of “pigs taste good”, but how do you know dog doesn’t taste good? The thing is, we don’t, because of the situation.

Views on factory farming vary depending on all of these ethics. It seems that most of these ethics would disagree with but what I personally believe is that people try to protect themselves from anything that would stop them from doing something they enjoy, such as eating meat. This is the individual’s choice and everyone has the right to believe what they would like.

Work Cited
“Animal Rights.” BBC. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2016.
“Eating Meat in Hinduism and Buddhism.” N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Dec. 2016.
“Farm Sanctuary.” Farm Sanctuary. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2016.

“How Undercover Investigations Are Changing Public Perception of the Meat Industry.” One Green Planet. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2016.