Would it be wrong to eat a cow that had been specially bred to WANT to be eaten? (a la Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy)

Great question. Off hand, it seems that this would not make a difference. Presumably, it would be just as wrong to have a human child in order to harvest his organs whether or not the child had been engineered to want this fate. Sometimes wanting or consenting does make a substantial moral difference. Robbery, rape, and the like, crucially depend on a person not consenting to an act; if I want you to take something I own then (in a general sense) I am more or less giving it to you and a robbery (in the straight forward sense) has not taken place. But in the case you present, we do not think the cows are exercising their freedom; it appears they have no choice but to want to be eaten. In this case (unlike the robbery case) it seems their wanting this fate does not make a moral difference. If we assume (for the sake of argument) some form of moral vegetarianism (it is morally wrong to kill cows to eat them), then the presence of the 'want' would not seem to make a moral difference.

However, let us assume there are no compelling moral reasons for being a vegetarian and you have a choice between killing and eating a cow that has been bred to want this fate versus a cow that does not want to be killed and eaten. Although this is a bit of bizarre thought experiment, I suggest that it would be less worse to kill and eat the first, because you would not be directly violating a creature's preference (even if it had been bred to have that preference). Still, we might raise a different question: if cows are so advanced that they can have wants, maybe we should not want to kill and eat any of them.

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