Is “Humane Slaughter” Possible?
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Is “Humane Slaughter” Possible?

Some people argue that it is “humane” to kill young, healthy animals, as long as there is no pain or suffering leading up to and including slaughter. However, animals have an intense desire to live. Does this desire deserve moral consideration?
Those who deny that this desire to live is morally important (hereafter “deniers”) argue that it is “instinct.” True, there is probably a genetic basis for this desire, but are not many of our own desires (including a desire to live) ingrained, with a presumably genetic basis? Whether the desire derives from genetic factors, early childhood experiences, or other sources does not seem morally relevant for either humans or nonhumans. We should respect the needs and desires of others, and discounting desires of others on the grounds of their presumed sources seems arbitrary and is, often, self-serving.
Deniers sometimes assert that farmed animals have humans to thank for their very existence, and a premature death is better than no life at all. However, a nonbeing cannot be wronged, so it is fallacious to claim that an animal who never existed has been harmed by not being offered the gift of life. In contrast, once an animal becomes a living, feeling being with needs and desires, addressing these needs and desires become morally relevant.
Next week, I will discuss how it is difficult to trust producers of “humane meat,” and how those who claim to eat only “humane meat” find it socially difficult to avoid consuming the products of factory farms. 

Go on to: Can We Trust Producers of “Humane Meat”?
Return to: Reflection on the Lectionary, Table of Contents 

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