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Social Theory and Practice, 49, no. 2 (April 2023): 287-312. https://doi.org/10.5840/soctheorpract2023424189
Humanely raised farm animals have lives worth living, and their existence is contingent upon human actions. Do these facts render the act of humanely slaughtering such animals permissible? I identify two ethical principles that may seem to connect these facts to the permissibility of humane animal slaughter. The first principle, inspired by the non-identity problem, exonerates some actions that maximize an individual’s well-being, but it is often inapplicable to animal slaughter. The second principle, which exonerates actions that are part of a practice that makes the animal better off, does apply to animal slaughter; but this principle is false.
The Journal of Value Inquiry (2022), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10790-021-09867-1
In this paper, I criticize the view that non-conscious entities—such as plants and bacteria—have well-being. Plausible sources of well-being include pleasure, the satisfaction of strongly and consciously held desires, and achievement. Since non-conscious entities cannot obtain well-being from these sources, the most plausible source of well-being for them is the exercise of natural capacities. Plants and bacteria, for example, certainly do exercise natural capacities. But I argue that exercising natural capacities does not in fact contribute (in a non-instrumental way) to well-being. I do so by presenting cases in which human beings exercise natural capacities that they do not enjoy exercising and do not desire (non-instrumentally) to exercise. I also argue that plausible views about fortune—how one’s well-being ranks on an appropriate scale—do not support the claim that exercising natural capacities contributes to well-being.
Public Affairs Quarterly 35, no. 4 (2021): 315–37. https://scholarlypublishingcollective.org/uip/paq/article-abstract/35/4/315/294309/Buying-Humane-Animal-Products-Is-Wrong-Because-It?redirectedFrom=fulltext
Humanely raised farm animals have lives worth living, and they would not exist if consumers did not purchase humane animal products. In this article, I acknowledge that these facts may imply that such purchases do not wrong the animals who are thereby caused to exist. But I argue that these purchases are nevertheless wrong because they wrong farmers. Unlike a consumer’s purchase of humane animal products, a farmer’s act of slaughter is not exonerated by the animals’ worthwhile and contingent lives. I argue further that committing moral wrongs, such as animal slaughter, makes one worse off. The consumer’s purchase causes the farmer to be worse off in this way. Thus, purchasing humane animal products wrongs the farmer and is wrong for that reason.
Journal of Animal Ethics 9, no. 2 (2019): 143–57. https://doi.org/10.5406/janimalethics.9.2.0143
In this article, I will identify an argument for the conclusion that all human moral agents have stronger moral reasons regarding other human beings than they do regarding nonhuman animals, and I will explain why I think this argument is unsound. The argument employs an empirical claim, that all human beings are more closely genealogically related to all other humans than they are to any nonhuman animals, and a moral claim, that one’s genealogical relationship to an individual is a morally relevant consideration. The moral claim is supported by a comparison between genealogically related individuals and a family.