Emerging profiles for cultured meat; ethics through and as design

Animals 3 (3):647-662 (2013)
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Abstract
The development of cultured meat has gained urgency through the increasing problems associated with meat, but what it might become is still open in many respects. In existing debates, two main moral profiles can be distinguished. Vegetarians and vegans who embrace cultured meat emphasize how it could contribute to the diminishment of animal suffering and exploitation, while in a more mainstream profile cultured meat helps to keep meat eating sustainable and affordable. In this paper we argue that these profiles do not exhaust the options and that feelings as well as imagination are needed to explore possible future options. On the basis of workshops, we present a third moral profile, “the pig in the backyard”. Here cultured meat is imagined as an element of a hybrid community of humans and animals that would allow for both the consumption of animal protein and meaningful relations with domestic animals. Experience in the workshops and elsewhere also illustrates that thinking about cultured meat inspires new thoughts on “normal” meat. In short, the idea of cultured meat opens up new search space in various ways. We suggest that ethics can take an active part in these searches, by fostering a process that integrates feelings, imagination and rational thought and that expands the range of our moral identities.
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