The Pig’s Squeak: Towards a Renewed Aesthetic Argument for Veganism

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In 1906, Henry Stephens Salt published a short collection of essays that presented several rhetorically powerful, if formally deficient arguments for the vegetarian position. By interpreting Salt as a moral sentimentalist with ties to Aristotelian virtue ethics, I propose that his aesthetic argument deserves contemporary consideration. First, I connect ethics and aesthetics with the Greek concepts of kalon and kalokagathia that depend equally on beauty and morality before presenting Salt’s assertion: slaughterhouses are disgusting, therefore they should not be promoted. I suggest three areas of development since Salt’s death that could be fruitfully plumbed to rebuild this assertion into a contemporary argument: an updated analysis of factory farm conditions, insights from moral psychologists on the adaptive socio-biological benefits of disgust as a source of cognitive information, and hermeneutical considerations about the role of the audience that allow blameworthiness for slaughterhouse atrocities to be laid upon the meat-eater.
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Archival date: 2018-03-23
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