THE morality of eating chicken

Oct 2013
6,192
Planet Nine, Oregon
"Once the chickens have attained slaughter weight, they are loaded into crowded trucks that offer no protection from extreme temperatures, and many birds die as they are shipped to processing facilities. The most efficient of these facilities kill some 8,400 birds per hour, the result of a high degree of automation. Machines run by humans automatically stun the birds, cut their throats, and scald and pluck them. First, human workers strap the live chickens into leg shackles on a moving rail, from which the birds hang upside-down as they move on to baths of electrified water, which stuns them. This is ostensibly for humane purposes, in order to render them insensible before their throats are cut, but some observers believe it is done merely to immobilize them to a degree sufficient to make further processing easier, not to desensitize them. The stunned birds move on to a mechanical blade that cuts their throats. After the chickens bleed out, they are plunged into a scalding bath that removes feathers. Unfortunately, this high-speed assembly-line process contains potential missteps. The voltage in the electrified bath may be too low, resulting in the rapid recovery of the chickens, who are then well aware of the throat-cutting machine as they approach it. The blade misses many chickens, so they consequently are boiled alive in the scalding bath."
Factory-Farmed Chickens: Their Difficult Lives and Deaths – Advocacy for Animals
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,837
US
"Once the chickens have attained slaughter weight, they are loaded into crowded trucks that offer no protection from extreme temperatures, and many birds die as they are shipped to processing facilities. The most efficient of these facilities kill some 8,400 birds per hour, the result of a high degree of automation. Machines run by humans automatically stun the birds, cut their throats, and scald and pluck them. First, human workers strap the live chickens into leg shackles on a moving rail, from which the birds hang upside-down as they move on to baths of electrified water, which stuns them. This is ostensibly for humane purposes, in order to render them insensible before their throats are cut, but some observers believe it is done merely to immobilize them to a degree sufficient to make further processing easier, not to desensitize them. The stunned birds move on to a mechanical blade that cuts their throats. After the chickens bleed out, they are plunged into a scalding bath that removes feathers. Unfortunately, this high-speed assembly-line process contains potential missteps. The voltage in the electrified bath may be too low, resulting in the rapid recovery of the chickens, who are then well aware of the throat-cutting machine as they approach it. The blade misses many chickens, so they consequently are boiled alive in the scalding bath."
Factory-Farmed Chickens: Their Difficult Lives and Deaths – Advocacy for Animals
Has this stopped you from eating chicken?
 
Oct 2013
6,192
Planet Nine, Oregon
Has this stopped you from eating chicken?
I've tried, but I am allergic to certain vegetarian foods, and still eat meat. No excuse really --I can eat tofu and other things; I'm striving to be a vegetarian. I feed my dog chicken, but it is all free range. When I cook I use "free range" chickens, though there is a range of "free range" I think.. I am crazy busy just taking care of my dog and working full time to say nothing of trying to make art, etc., so I eat what is convenient for me, as I make each meal for my dog from all organic ingredients. BUT, I want to become a vegetarian --and I've done it before.
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,837
US
I've tried, but I am allergic to certain vegetarian foods, and still eat meat. No excuse really --I can eat tofu and other things; I'm striving to be a vegetarian. I feed my dog chicken, but it is all free range. When I cook I use "free range" chickens, though there is a range of "free range" I think.. I am crazy busy just taking care of my dog and working full time to say nothing of trying to make art, etc., so I eat what is convenient for me, as I make each meal for my dog from all organic ingredients. BUT, I want to become a vegetarian --and I've done it before.
It's ironic that you mention your dog. As I was feeding my dog today, I looked thought about the main ingredient in her food, which is chicken. I doubt it is free range. I supplement her dog food with chicken itself. Dogs need to eat. They are not vegetarians. I don't wish to be one either and will continue to eat meat. I don't think free range chickens are killed in a manner much more humanely though. I have watched people who have farms butcher. For a chicken it is usually a cleaver to decapitate. In the old days they literally rung the chicken's neck. Speaking of scolding, anybody who has ever enjoyed lobster or crabs knows how they are cooked.
 

Fox

Ad Honorem
Oct 2011
3,905
Korea
So, given that there are no valid objections to the assertion that raising chickens in battery farms is immoral, presumably there should be a law that compels that they all be made free range.
There are certainly valid potential objections to the assertion that raising chickens in battery farms is immoral. One example: the proposition that utilitarianism is flatly wrong on account of being an entirely construed system which is in no way self evident or necessarily self justifying, that pain and pleasure are not the first order objects of moral reasoning, and that the objections to this practice all devolve to expressions of emotion masked as moral reasoning. If one considers the possibility of such an objection, attacking factory farming on moral grounds becomes much, much more difficult. Part of the problem with the attacks on factory farming in this thread is that they all really amount to begging the question: they assume that the suffering of chickens on factory farms is wrong in order to prove that the suffering of chickens on factory farms is wrong. Yes, if one assumes what one wishes to prove, one can be confident that one will reach the desired conclusions, but that means little. That's not to detract from the value provided by criticizing justifications provided for eating meat, of course; that sort of scrutiny is beneficial, so long as one doesn't imagine that scrutinizing the motives of one's interlocutors, on its own, provides meaningful justification for one's own position. Well, and so long as one doesn't begin to disparage one's interlocutors, which from a psychological perspective is likely to cause them to reflexively dismiss what one has to say, meaning one is no longer reasoning with others, but rather, using others as props to reinforce one's own beliefs and values in one's own mind, which might feel good, but is not particularly productive.

Note that I'm not saying your proposal for a law compelling the free-range raising of chickens is necessarily a bad one (though free range chicken raising is probably not the optimally hedonistic form of chicken-rearing given free range chickens experience wounds, disease, and death at a higher rate; a more moderate form of caged breeding which provided cages large enough for chickens to live their lives in a fairly comfortable fashion while still being protected would likely produce better results). Assuming these price differences are roughly correct for the United States on average, the cost of chicken would still be very affordable for the average middle class family to eat regularly; it would be primarily the poor (as usual) who felt the sting, which is perhaps fine.
 
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Feb 2011
6,379
Unless you adhere to particular religions, all morality are made-up abstract concepts made by human beings. It is already highly favorable to humans over non-humans by the nature of its source: Humans.

Morality being an abstract concept made up by humans, then of course it needs to rely on a set of assumptions that cannot be scientifically proven. Morality isn't physics. 'Not causing undue pain' is as basic as moral assumptions go. Morality needs to rely on SOME underlying assumption. 'A small amount of human pleasure is worth a large amount of non-human pain' is a very, very specific assumption, not basic at all in comparison to 'don't cause undue pain'. It should be the more specific assumptions that needs to be proven, not the basic ones. The basic assumptions are the ones you use to justify the more specific assumption. Motive needs to be scrutinized as well, many moral systems don't just look at what you do, but why you do. That's why most cultures see a difference between honest mistake and malevolent harm.
 
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Fox

Ad Honorem
Oct 2011
3,905
Korea
Unless you adhere to particular religions, all morality are made-up abstract concepts made by human beings.
If you genuinely believe this -- if you genuinely believe that there is no moral truth which can be discovered, but rather, that all morality is simply "made up" -- then why should anyone take your arguments regarding it seriously? If morality is simply "an abstract concept made up by humans," then an adequate response to any suggestion that eating chickens is immoral is, "No, it's not." Indeed, if anything, the blunt response holds more force, as it contains no arguments which can be shown to be internally inconsistent, and no details which can be attacked. It is unassailable, and to deny its unassailability is to deny that morality is really the simply "made-up" thing which you suggest it to be.

Morality needs to rely on SOME underlying assumption.
Perhaps so, insofar as if nothing else certain "laws of thought" like non-contraction are in some sense assumptions, and at the very least those would be required, but not all assumptions are equal. "You and I agree regarding assumptions X, Y, and Z, and assumptions X, Y, and Z naturally lead to conclusion R," or, "You and I agree with the law of non-contradiction, and you've assumed both X and not X, so your position disproves itself," is very different than, "I take assumption X for granted, and accordingly, conclude assumption X."

'A small amount of human pleasure is worth a large amount of non-human pain' is a very, very specific assumption, not basic at all in comparison to 'don't cause undue pain'. It should be the more specific assumptions that needs to be proven, not the basic ones.
If so, then in the same sense that, "There is no teapot floating around Pluto," is a more basic assumption than, "There is a teapot floating around Pluto," the more basic assumption is, "Pleasure and pain are not morally relevant," and your more specific assumption that they are relevant in at least some cases is the one that must be proven. How will you go about proving it? Or will you simply refuse to do so while still taking it as an assumption, despite the fact that said assumption is the conclusion you're attempting to defend in this thread? Or will you disavow the suggestion that the more specific assumption is the one which must be proven (which would be reasonable enough; we all misspeak sometimes)?

Motive needs to be scrutinized as well, many moral systems don't just look at what you do, but why you do. That's why most cultures see a difference between honest mistake and malevolent harm.
Scrutiny of motives is potentially beneficial, yes, something with which I already implicitly agreed in my above post. Yet the first and best target of such scrutiny is oneself, as one has first-hand access to one's own motivations, and lacks first-hand access to the motivations of others. Care to give an honest accounting of your own motive behind arguing in a circular fashion in a thread regarding a topic which you suggest defies characterization in terms of truth and falsity on account of dealing in "made-up" notions?
 
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Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,837
US
Note that I'm not saying your proposal for a law compelling the free-range raising of chickens is necessarily a bad one (though free range chicken raising is probably not the optimally hedonistic form of chicken-rearing given free range chickens experience wounds, disease, and death at a higher rate; a more moderate form of caged breeding which provided cages large enough for chickens to live their lives in a fairly comfortable fashion while still being protected would likely produce better results).
This comment reminded me that about two years ago my one relative had about 10 chickens decapitated by an unknown perpetrator. They live on an 8 acre farm and had let the chickens roam in the day and put them in the coop at night. They came out in the morning and found all the chickens decapitated. Some may have been missing, as I can't recall. They thought a hawk or owl was the cause, although some speculated it may have been a raccoon or the proverbial fox. I am surprised something has not chased down my neighbor's chickens yet, as they are out in the open throughout the day. It is not uncommon to see several hawks circling in the meadow adjacent to our properties. There are some neighbors who let their dogs run free and plenty of outdoor cats, although I can't see the latter taking on a chicken.
 
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