Veganism, Animal Welfare, and Causal Impotence

Journal of Animal Ethics 10 (2):161 (2020)
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Proponents of the utilitarian animal welfare argument (AWA) for veganism maintain that it is reasonable to expect that adopting a vegan diet will decrease animal suffering. In this paper I argue otherwise. I maintain that (i) there are plausible scenarios in which refraining from meat-consumption will not decrease animal suffering; (ii) the utilitarian AWA rests on a false dilemma; and (iii) there are no reasonable grounds for the expectation that adopting a vegan diet will decrease animal suffering. The paper is divided into four sections. In the first, I set out the utilitarian AWA in its original form. I give some background and I distinguish it from other, related arguments. In the second, I discuss the causal impotence objection, a popular objection to the utilitarian AWA. I explain how the objection works by means of a conceptual distinction between consumers and producers. In the third, I explain how proponents of the utilitarian AWA respond to this objection. In particular, I set out in some detail what I call the expected utility response. In the fourth and final section, I use the three objections noted above to explain why I do not find this response convincing.
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First archival date: 2020-02-27
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