Factory Farming


“Raising animals for mass food consumption has become a competitive business, managed and owned primarily by large corporations, which rely on animal confinement and assembly-line methods of production to maximize profit. Factory farming practices result in some of the lowest prices in the world for meat, eggs, and dairy products, but at a huge cost to the animals (as well as to the environment and human health) (Williams 374-375)".

In general, as human being there are two issues which must be considered when presenting the case against the factory farming of animals. Firstly, we must understand the way in which society as a whole views the moral status animals. And secondly, we must consider the self-inflicted harm that surmounts from the current practices of factory farming. This first issue deals with humankind’s perception of animals. As displayed through such practices as factory farming, it can be concluded that certain animals are perceived as biological entities containing no moral worth. Such a claim can be supported by the fact that nearly “90% of all pigs raised for food are confined at some point in their lives”1. Thus the challenge that arises is two-fold:

1.) Convincing humanity that animal's deserve a level of moral consideration where animal exploitation is impermissable.

2.) That since factory farming is a form of animal exploitation, such practices must cease.

Pragmatic Perspective

In her article Pragmatism and the Production of Livestock, Erin McKenna explores a pragmatist’s view on the factory farming and experimentation of animals. McKenna’s main argument applies pragmatic philosophy as means to condemn the mass-production and experimentation of animals, while avoiding the popular theories of deontology, feminism and utilitarianism that “fail to have a sense of the problems and needs that lead to how we are currently situated”. McKenna argues that the pragmatic perspective provides a more applicable and compelling argument against animal cruelty and factory farming (McKenna, 170). For McKenna, “altering habits is the key” and is what we as humans must be mindful of as we move towards social progression (165). Additionally, altering our habits are ways in which “different ends-in-view will emerge”. Having “ends-in-view” is what drives us to the “intelligent examination” of our surroundings; thus consequently leading us to question our poor habit of objectifying animals. Having “ends-in-view” is a means to accomplishing a goal, which in this case is the better treatment of animals. Here McKenna provides a compelling argument against the factory farming of animals. She does so successfully by emphasizing the harm factory farming causes to human health. In part, this connects the well-being of humanity to the harmful practice of factory farming.

Moving Forward

What we must not overlook as humans – and what pragmatism ultimately brings to mind – is how our current actions often yield unwanted results. Thus the challenge, which humanity must embrace, is how to commence with change. As it stands now, the international food industry relies heavily upon the use of factory farming. However this means of food production must cease if we as humans desire to improve our current standard of living (not financially, but ethically) While convincing the masses to go vegan seems out of the question, we can start by employing pragmatic mentality to this problem. One way to combat the problem of factory farming is to consider alternatives that provide small steps toward progress. Such alternatives include the buying of organic foods or the purchasing meat that is not consumer-driven.

Although these alternative seem optimistic in practice, the benefits from adopting new alternatives will ultimately encourage us to re-evaluate and re-consider how deleterious life-styles are are towards the environment. Again this is how a pragmatic perspective serves to strengthen relationship with the environment.

Williams, Nancy. "AFFECTED IGNORANCE AND ANIMAL SUFFERING". Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 1.21 (2008): 371-384. Print.
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