This essay attempts to answer age-old questions about how the consumption of animals fits into our moral framework. Do animals suffer, and if so, does their suffering have any moral relevance? Is it immoral to eat meat, or immoral not to? What is the religious significance of butter? Should we be eating other primates?
Perhaps Rene Descartes was right when he made the compelling argument that animals don’t feel pain. After all, he was right about a lot of other stuff.
Descartes was a vegetarian for health reasons. He, did, however, skin dogs and rabbits alive for research purposes. He reasoned that if the animals felt pain then what was done to them would be so horrific that God would never allow it. Since God did, in fact, allow it, then it follows logically that dogs and rabbits don’t feel pain. There is no reason to think any other animals do, either. As Descartes went on to argue, animals don’t have souls, and without a soul, you can’t feel pain. Continue reading