Human treatment of animals has been on my mind a lot lately, particularly how different cultures seem to have internal contradictions. Western culture tends to put a lot of stock in logic and reason, but when it comes to animals there is a bit of cultural relativism. We see what we do as moral and others as immoral, even when the two things are very similar. If you ask someone from the United States what they think of eating dog they will probably act disgusted and even claim that eating dogs is “wrong” or “immoral”, but we eat pig all the time. Not only is there cross-cultural views on what is right or wrong, there are also seeming contradictions within our society. Take dog-fighting, for example.
Most people think dog-fighting should be illegal. They see the act of raising animals simply so that they can fight, suffer, and die for human entertainment and profit to be deplorable. Human entertainment, at its core, is simply pleasure we achieve through the use of our eyes. Humans watch dogs fighting and the thrill of the fight and the potential for gaining money through gambling gives them a thrill, it gives them pleasure.
Many people see this as wrong, but at the same time eat bacon. Bacon, and generally all meat, is consumed because it gives the person eating it pleasure. It is pleasure derived from taste and the satisfaction from a full stomach. Bacon has no nutritional value that is necessary for survival, but people enjoy it. While some people may need animal protein for survival (I’m not sure how common that medical necessity really is) there are other sources that it can come from other than pigs.
If you are against dog-fighting and abusing pets, but support eating bacon then I can only come up with three reasons: This is a hypocritical stance, morality and ethics are relative to a particular society, or there is some sort of important difference between pleasure that comes from sight and pleasure that comes from taste with taste allowing you to perform acts of violence (or pay someone to) that sight doesn’t allow. If morality and ethics with regards to animals are relative to a particular society than we shouldn’t be using the state to enforce them, particularly at the federal level. This means that laws against dog fighting are unjustly targeting a particular sub-culture in the United States.
Personally, I think it is a hypocritical stance. If a dog shouldn’t be abused for pleasure or profit, than neither should pigs (and pigs in our society are treated terribly before being killed for human pleasure). If harm must be done for survival, if meat must be consumed, we should attempt to minimize that harm and only eat the amount of meat necessary and make sure it comes from sources that are raised in a way to minimize harm.
I think most people are fine with being hypocrites. Challenging the consumption of bacon is almost a sacrilegious act and is commonly defended with “but it tastes so good”. The argument is basically, I derive pleasure from it therefore it is okay. It is moral hedonism, which I don’t have a problem with if you aren’t harming. Though, if they saw me beating my dog with a bat and I said “but it feels so good to do it” I doubt they would shrug and say “okie dokie, as long as you get pleasure from it”.