(Original post by minimarshmallow)
Imagine this. You're wondering what you want to have for your dinner, and a genetically modified or selectively bred pig walks up to you and tells you that you should eat it for dinner. In fact, not only should you, the pig actively wants you to. Do you eat the pig?
(This is very similar in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
, a part of the Hitchhiker's Guide
series - there is is a cow like creature offering the best cuts of steak).
Two lines of thought come out of this thought experiment as I look at it. The pig wants you to eat it, so really you'd be doing it a disservice by not eating it. Even if you've spent years as a vegetarian for moral reasons, does the pig's attitude of wanting to be eaten override what you think is right concerning if you should eat it's bacon?
However, as Arthur Dent thought in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
, if the animal is smart enough to be able to communicate that it wants to be eaten, does this somehow put it into a category of 'too intelligent for us to eat'
- in other words, what makes this pig then morally different to a human that would allow you to eat that pig, but send a human that wanted to be eaten to see a psychiatrist?
What would your response be to a pig that wanted to be eaten?
There is no difference at all. I'd send both to a psychiatrist. It's an insane thing to desire for oneself regardless of what species you are or what level of intellect you have.
I'd question the sanity of any
creature who 'wanted
' to be butchered and eaten. No sane being wants that for themselves. It's morally wrong to carry out their request even if they are intelligent
since you can be very intelligent and yet completely insane.
Also, if you hold a knife to pigs throat and press it - the pig will try to escape, it does not desire pain but it cannot verbalize
that to you. The ability to verbalize doesn't demonstrate intellect e.g. parrots, and the inability to verbalize doesn't demonstrate lack of intellect e.g. Prof Stephen Hawking. So just because the pig can verbalize doesn't necessarily mean it's 'intelligent' and just because some animals can't doesn't necessarily mean that they are unintelligent.
A 'normal' pig communicates it's unhappiness in others ways (e.g. frantically trying to escape/squealing). You'd probably get a very similar response from a small child or a dog etc. If a child doesn't want to be harmed then why should any other creature which is as 'intelligent' as say, an average 3 year old?
It's insane to carry out the act regardless of the intellect of the animal (or the sanity) and just because it can verbalize doesn't indicate intellect. Even if we could prove lack of intellect in a creature, intellect would not be a sensible measure against which we could justify killing it.
To be honest, there are different topics within this question:
1. How do we measure intelligence?
2. Can we eat unintelligent
animals? If 'yes' then what makes unintelligent humans so special that we don't eat them?
3. If we don't use intelligence as our measure for whether to kill and eat then what else, if anything, can we use?
4. Can we eat insane
animals? If 'yes', why not insane humans?