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Dependence on Wrongdoing in the Consumption of Meat: A Kantian Analysis

Journal of Applied Philosophy

Published online on


Kant's ethics is used by some as a defence of the exploitation of animals and is criticised by others for not recognising any moral relevance of the plight of animals. These appeals overlook the broad applicability of Kant's principles. In this article, I argue that Kant's ethics implies a duty to abstain from most meat and some other animal products derived from farming. I argue that there is a Kantian principle not to choose goods that have been derived from wrongdoing, with certain qualifications. This principle isolates the wrong of using others to commit wrongdoing on one's behalf. As has been argued by others, Kant's ethics implies that animal farming as we know it in our society almost universally involves wrongdoing and the slaughter of animals is especially tied to wrongdoing. I argue for a broad sense in which these ideas together imply that choosing farmed meat, and probably other animal products, is treating animal industry workers as mere means. Thus, we have a Kantian duty to abstain from these products.