Steve Cooke

measuring the boundaries of our nation by the sun


A flow chart for harming animals

I’ve just spent a chunk of my afternoon turning an ethical argument for vegetarianism into a handy flow chart. The structure of the argument is pretty rough and ready, and there are lots of nuances and important discussions and disagreements missing. However, I think the chart captures the essence of what I call the consistency argument against harming animals. Hopefully, it clearly illustrates where our basic intuitions and assumptions about the treatment of non-human animals and humans are inconsistent. If you follow it, and agree with the premises and conclusions then you either end up thinking, a) that it’s permissible to harm both non-human animals and also non-rational humans, or b) that it’s impermissible to harm non-human animals. Faced with that, most people prefer option b); I know I do.

The chart is below, apologies for the size. I should probably turn it into a tick-box quiz at some stage, a la the rather excellent scenarios at:

Arguing about animals

Click to see full size.