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Killing Happy Animals: Explorations in Utilitarian Ethics

Overview

Is it acceptable to kill an animal that has been granted a pleasant life? This book rigorously explores the moral basis of the ideal of animal-friendly animal husbandry. Utilitarianism is recognised as being the moral theory that, historically, has contributed most to the recognition of animal suffering as an evil. This book sheds new light on utilitarian moral theory by pointing out the assumptions and implications of two different versions of utilitarianism. One version, total utilitarianism, can indeed morally...

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Killing Happy Animals: Explorations in Utilitarian Ethics

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Overview

Is it acceptable to kill an animal that has been granted a pleasant life? This book rigorously explores the moral basis of the ideal of animal-friendly animal husbandry. Utilitarianism is recognised as being the moral theory that, historically, has contributed most to the recognition of animal suffering as an evil. This book sheds new light on utilitarian moral theory by pointing out the assumptions and implications of two different versions of utilitarianism. One version, total utilitarianism, can indeed morally justify the routine killing of animals, provided that they have been granted pleasant lives. The other version, prior existence utilitarianism, implies a much stronger protection for animals, both human and non-human. Hence, in opposition to what is typically brought forward in the classrooms and in the literature, the utilitarian concern with animals need not be restricted to the avoidance of suffering. Utilitarianism has the resources to oppose the routine killing of animals, as practiced in animal husbandry and many other common practices of animal use.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In Killing Happy Animals, Tatjana Visak probes a question that is crucial to the ethical evaluation of eating meat: whether bringing animals into existence benefits them, and can compensate for killing other animals. Those who believe it justifiable to kill one happy animal if it will be replaced by another will be challenged by Visak's clearly argued case against this view. This book makes a major contribution to a philosophical debate with important practical implications." - Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University

"Our relationships with other animals are extremely challenging and all too often contradictory. For example, the broadly accepted moral ideal of animal-friendly animal husbandry holds that it is okay to keep and routinely kill animals for food, provided that they are granted "pleasant" lives. Along these lines, Tatjana Visak asks, 'How can it be justified that we are not allowed to kick them, while we are allowed to kill them?' Is animal-friendly animal husbandry a contradiction in terms? In Killing Happy Animals Visak explores possible answers to this pressing question. She provides necessary resources for re-thinking animal ethics, public policy, and our daily consumption of other animals. This timely book is highly recommended for those who are willing to re-think ethics and our relationship to other animals." - Marc Bekoff, Professor Emeritus, University of Colorado, USA
 
"It is increasingly the conventional wisdom among right-minded people that it is permissible to eat meat so long as the animals have happy lives and are painlessly slaughtered. Tatjana Visak digs deep into the utilitarian foundations of this comfortable philosophy and concludes that it is wrong: most of us are morally obliged to live a vegan life-style. Visak's arguments must be confronted by anyone who claims to be a conscientious consumer." - Prof. Dale Jamieson, Director of Center for Bioethics, New York University, USA
 
From the Publisher

"In Killing Happy Animals, Tatjana Visak probes a question that is crucial to the ethical evaluation of eating meat: whether bringing animals into existence benefits them, and can compensate for killing other animals. Those who believe it justifiable to kill one happy animal if it will be replaced by another will be challenged by Visak's clearly argued case against this view. This book makes a major contribution to a philosophical debate with important practical implications." - Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University

"Our relationships with other animals are extremely challenging and all too often contradictory. For example, the broadly accepted moral ideal of animal-friendly animal husbandry holds that it is okay to keep and routinely kill animals for food, provided that they are granted "pleasant" lives. Along these lines, Tatjana Visak asks, 'How can it be justified that we are not allowed to kick them, while we are allowed to kill them?' Is animal-friendly animal husbandry a contradiction in terms? In Killing Happy Animals Visak explores possible answers to this pressing question. She provides necessary resources for re-thinking animal ethics, public policy, and our daily consumption of other animals. This timely book is highly recommended for those who are willing to re-think ethics and our relationship to other animals." - Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado, USA
 
"It is increasingly the conventional wisdom among right-minded people that it is permissible to eat meat so long as the animals have happy lives and are painlessly slaughtered. Tatjana Visak digs deep into the utilitarian foundations of this comfortable philosophy and concludes that it is wrong: most of us are morally obliged to live a vegan life-style. Visak's arguments must be confronted by anyone who claims to be a conscientious consumer." - Prof. Dale Jamieson, Director Center for Bioethics, New York University, USA
 

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Tatjana ViĊĦak is a lecturer at the Centre for Human Bioethics at Monash University, Australia. Previously she has worked as a lecturer/researcher in ethics at various Dutch universities. Her special interests are Animal Ethics, Bioethics, Utilitarianism and Value Theory.

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Table of Contents

Series Editors' Preface
Introduction
1. Utilitarianism and Animal Husbandry
2. Animals and the Harm of Death
3. The Replaceability Argument
4. Total View versus Prior Existence View
5. Can Existence be Better for a Being than Non-Existence?
6. Person-Affecting Restriction and Non-Identity Problem
7. Repugnant Conclusion and Expected Misery Argument
8. Veganism versus Animal-Friendly Animal Husbandry
Conclusions
Appendices
Bibliography
Index

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