Welcome to the Pleasure Dome

Correlation and causation is a tricky issue. Does eating processed meats (e.g. bacon, ham and salami) increase the risk of bowel cancer? The latest World Health Organisation report (published 26/10/2015) is unequivocal (it does cause cancer) but will this new information make much difference to the general public? Perfectly intelligent individuals will respond with all the usual cliches such as: “It’s all about moderation, a bacon sandwich every other day won’t kill you.” So is there a correlation between IQ and acting intelligently? Stupid people do very stupid things, but this applies to everybody. The idea of linking any moral compass with intelligence doesn’t seem to work either, as ‘super bright’ scientists defend vivisection without any apparent ethical qualms. Perhaps their brains simply don’t have any of the required ‘sensitivity cells’? For them (and many others) it’s a ‘non-issue’: they just don’t think about it. To them it’s a complete waste of time to consider the pain and suffering that a rat, cat, or monkey might experience as different procedures are performed on these non-human animals. Even those academics and philosophers who have genuinely considered the ethical issues surrounding the use of animals for food, in experiments and so on can present a highly confused personal position. Despite a clear understanding that eating meat is morally indefensible they still do it. Why? Because they enjoy the taste, and it gives them pleasure. So are they incapable of changing their behaviour because those powerful endorphins overwhelm rational thought and any perceived moral problem?

If you want to hear all the arguments (and bizarre contradictions) please listen to BBC Radio 4’s Analysis programme Killing Cows first broadcast on 26/10/2015 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06kbm04). Contributors include Peter Singer, Jeff MacMahon and Tom Regan.

Paul Freestone

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Oxfordshire's local veggie group

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