Freedom Center Colloquium: Hannah Tierney
Topic: Veganism and Making a Difference
Abstract: Veganism, the practice of eschewing the consumption of all animal products, is often championed as a way of reducing the amount of animal suffering in the world. But many philosophers (e.g. Budolfson 2015; McPherson 2015, 2018) have put pressure on the claim that individual food choices can have such an impact. These philosophers then go on to build a moral case for veganism and vegetarianism in terms of complicity with wrongdoing (McPherson 2015, 2018) and the essentiality of harm (Budolfson 2015). In this paper, I'd like to grant that individual food choices cannot directly affect the number of animals raised and killed within the factory farming system, but that it can play an important role in making a difference to the amount of animal suffering in the world in other ways. But as we'll see, the ways in which veganism can contribute to the reduction of animal suffering is a highly contingent matter. One can contribute to the reduction of animal suffering without adopting veganism and one can be vegan without contributing to the reduction of animal suffering. By reflecting on how precisely veganism relates to the reduction of animal suffering, I hope to get clear on the better (and worse) ways to be vegan.