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Chewing over in vitro meat: Animal ethics, cannibalism and social progress

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journal contribution
posted on 04.04.2022, 15:37 authored by Josh MilburnJosh Milburn
Despite its potential for radically reducing the harm inflicted on nonhuman animals in the pursuit of food, there are a number of objections grounded in animal ethics to the development of in vitro meat. In this paper, I defend the possibility against three such concerns. I suggest that worries about reinforcing ideas of flesh as food and worries about the use of nonhuman animals in the production of in vitro meat can be overcome through appropriate safeguards and a fuller understanding of the interests that nonhuman animals actually possess. Worries about the technology reifying speciesist hierarchies of value are more troublesome, however. In response to this final challenge, I suggest that we should be open not just to the production of in vitro nonhuman flesh, but also in vitro human flesh. This leads to a consideration of the ethics of cannibalism. The paper ultimately defends the position that cannibalism simpliciter is not morally problematic, though a great many practices typically associated with it are. The consumption of in vitro human flesh, however, is able to avoid these problematic practices, and so should be considered permissible. I conclude that animal ethicists and vegans should be willing to cautiously embrace the production of in vitro flesh.

Funding

Department of Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland

History

School

  • Social Sciences and Humanities

Department

  • International Relations, Politics and History

Published in

Res Publica

Volume

22

Issue

3

Pages

249 - 265

Publisher

Springer

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Rights holder

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

Publisher statement

This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review (when applicable) and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11158-016-9331-4

Publication date

2016-09-05

Copyright date

2016

ISSN

1356-4765

eISSN

1572-8692

Language

en

Depositor

Dr Josh Milburn. Deposit date: 28 March 2022