On a Failed Defense of Factory Farming

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 30 (2):311-323 (2017)
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Timothy Hsiao attempts to defend industrial animal farming by arguing that it is not inherently cruel. We raise three main objections to his defense. First, his argument rests on a misunderstanding of the nature of cruelty. Second, his conclusion, though technically true, is so weak as to be of virtually no moral significance or interest. Third, his contention that animals lack moral standing, and thus that mistreating them is wrong only insofar as it makes one more disposed to mistreat other humans, is untenable on both philosophical and biological grounds.

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Stephen Puryear
North Carolina State University


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