A Kantian Response to Futility Worries?

In Anne Barnhill, Mark Budolfson & Tyler Doggett (eds.), Food, Ethics, and Society: An Introductory Text with Readings. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 215-218 (2016)
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Due in no small part to Kant's own seemingly dim views on the value of animals, Kantian ethics has traditionally been understood to be rather unfriendly ground for arguments in favor of vegetarianism. This has started to change recently, which raises the question: do Kantian approaches offer a way of defending vegetarianism that doesn't run afoul of the sorts of futility worries that afflict consequentialist arguments for vegetarianism? I argue that Kantian approaches in fact face an analogous worry, due to their need to explain why eating meat ought to be understood as a disrespectful act simpliciter, rather than only in certain circumstances.

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Eliot Michaelson
King's College London


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