Affected Ignorance And Animal Suffering: Why Our Failure To Debate Factory Farming Puts Us At Moral Risk
- 3.9k Downloads
It is widely recognized that our social and moral environments influence our actions and belief formations. We are never fully immune to the effects of cultural membership. What is not clear, however, is whether these influences excuse average moral agents who fail to scrutinize conventional norms. In this paper, I argue that the lack of extensive public debate about factory farming and, its corollary, extreme animal suffering, is probably due, in part, to affected ignorance. Although a complex phenomenon because of its many manifestations, affected ignorance is morally culpable because it involves a choice not to investigate whether some practice in which one participates in might be immoral. I contend further that James Montmarquet’s set of intellectual virtues can provide a positive account of what it means to act as a responsible moral agent while immersed in a meat eating culture; they also represent the moral and epistemic framework for the kind of public discourse that should be taking place.
Keywordsaffected ignorance animal suffering cultural membership factory farming intellectual virtues meat eating moral ignorance responsibility
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to Wofford College for awarding me a summer research grant in order to complete this project. I would also like to thank the six anonymous referees for providing me with extensive and helpful comments and suggestions on earlier versions of the manuscript.
- Adams C. (2004), The Sexual Politics of Meat, New York: Continuum PressGoogle Scholar
- Amnesty International, Report on Torture (Duckworth, London, 1973)Google Scholar
- Appleby M. C., J. A. Mench, B. O. Hughes (2004), Poultry Behavior and Welfare. Wallingford: CABI PublishingGoogle Scholar
- Bauston G., Battered Birds, Crated Herds: How We Treat the Animals We Eat (Farm Sanctuary, 1996)Google Scholar
- Eisnitz G. (1997), Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry. New York: Prometheus BooksGoogle Scholar
- Fischer J., M. Ravizza (eds.) (1993), Perspectives on Moral Responsibility. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University PressGoogle Scholar
- Hoagland S. (1993). Femininity, Resistance, and Sabotage. In M. Pearsall (ed.), Women and Values: Readings in Recent Feminist Philosophy. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing CompanyGoogle Scholar
- Ikuenobe P. (2004), Culture of Racism, Self-Respect, and Blameworthiness. Public Affairs Quarterly 18(1), 27–55Google Scholar
- Kaufman, M., “Ex-Pig Farm Manager Charged With Cruelty.” The Washington Post, 9 September (2001)Google Scholar
- Levy N. (2003), Cultural Membership and Moral Responsibility. The Monist 86(2), 145–163Google Scholar
- Lugones M. (1990), Structure/Antistructure and Agency Under Oppression. The Journal of Philosophy 87(10), 502–515Google Scholar
- Montmarquet J. (1993), Epistemic Virtue and Doxastic Responsibility. Lanham: Rowan & LittlefieldGoogle Scholar
- Regan T. (2004), Empty Cages: Facing the Challenge of Animal Rights. Maryland: Rowan & Littlefield PublishersGoogle Scholar
- Schonfeld, V. and M. Alaux, The Animals’ Film (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, 1981)Google Scholar
- Singer P. (2001), Animal Liberation. New York: Harper PerennialGoogle Scholar
- Singer P., J. Mason (2006), The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter. USA: Rodale BooksGoogle Scholar
- Speigel M. (1996), The Dreaded Comparison: Human and Animal Slavery. New York: Mirror BooksGoogle Scholar
- Weeks C. A., A. Butterworth (2004), Measuring and Auditing Broiler Welfare. Wallingford: CABI PublishingGoogle Scholar