Given that that most people would agree with 1 and 2 that: 1. Causing great suffering is wickedness if done in the absence of qualifying conditions. For example bombing a city is generally wrong since it causes suffering but if bombing that city ends a war then that is a qualifying condition which may absolve the wrongness of that act. and 2. Eating animals causes great suffering. How can meat eaters see themselves as anything other than wicked people? Certainly eating meat causes great suffering so the only thing that would keep it from being wicked would be the presence of a qualifying condition. What is the qualifying condition in the case of meat eating? That is tastes SO YUMMY?

I agree that all other things being equal, carnivorous diets are morally inferior to vegetarian diets. Those who defend carnivorous diets, however, would cite qualifying conditions of the sort you're asking about such as the following: (a) the limited cognitive capacities of those eaten and/or their limited capacities to engage in the sort of "projects" that indicate moral standing; (b) the absence of suitable alternatives to meat; © conditions that render your second premise (that eating animals causes great suffering) false or at least weak. To elaborate: while animals like cattle and birds may have highly developed capacities to experience pain, the case is less clear with, say, oysters and squid, perhaps other fish; even plants exhibit "distress" when harvested. In short, the line is difficult to draw with regard to the experience of pain, let alone pain itself. Here empirical science is likely to improve our understanding of pain and the experience of pain. Nevertheless, the ability to suffer is likely to present a continuum and even a multiplicity of variable dimensions to consider. In any case, even those animals that have robust capacities to suffer arguably don't seem capable of engaging in projects such as law, art, science, religion, politics, etc. that some would argue are necessary conditions, perhaps in conjunction with the capacity to suffer, for moral consideration. On the other hand, for myself, I think that the social lives of many animals seem rich enough to count on this score--though, again the lives of fish, mollusks, and insects seem perhaps not to meet this condition. Moreover, in some circumstances of human habitation (high mountains and desert, for example) protein is not available in other forms in sufficient quantities. So, for some that, in conjunction with the preceding points, justifies those people's carnivorous practices. Finally, some have argued for practices of "humane slaughter" that will inflict minimal suffering on food animals. Defenders of this view argue that techniques exist that neutralize or at least weaken your second premise sufficiently so that it doesn't trump other considerations.

Many see themselves as in need of protein and or without the time to go vegetarian. They also regard their own lives as much more valuable than the lives of say chickens. Some also argue that animals eat one another and that the food chain is part of a natural process. I do not agree with this logic but that to my mind is how the reasoning goes.

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