Ethics and meat consumption | DW Documentary

Are we really so different from the farm animals we eat? Philosophical thought experiments elucidate this question, bringing together the differing perspectives of philosophers and researchers, along with entertaining animations.

Peter Singer, Professor of Ethics at Princeton University, is seen as the philosophical father of the contemporary animal rights movement. Based on the philosophy of utilitarianism, the doctrine that sees the basis of moral behavior in the utilitarian, he convincingly explains why we need to consider the interests and feelings of animals in our views on meat consumption just as much as those of other humans.

But what do animals really feel? Sara Hintze is an animal welfare researcher at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna. She studies the emotions of farm animals. Touching footage from her lab shows young fattening pigs displaying astonishingly human-like behavior in psychological experiments.

How do we know that animals feel, but that plants do not? Evolutionary biologist Jon Mallatt is concerned with precisely this boundary between the conscious and the unconscious world. He takes viewers on a journey 500 million years back in time, and explains why animals began to develop the first feelings.

Finally, we hear from Dan Shahar, one of the few philosophers to present an ethical defense of the consumption of meat. His arguments don’t gloss over the realities of livestock farming, but pose the question: what moral demands do we want to make on ourselves?

‘The Great Meat Debate’ (5-part documentary series):
Part 1: Factory farming, animal welfare and the future of modern agriculture –
Part 2: Do we need to eat meat? –
Part 3: Ethics and meat consumption –
Part 4: The world of meat substitutes – [Coming soon]
Part 5: A vegan lifestyle: Is it the future? – [Coming soon]

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