Neganimalic Limit-Value

In his book “Responsibility for Future Generations” Dieter Birnbacher gives expression to the idea that it would be, as regards the wellbeing of the entirety of beings capable of suffering, better if mankind were to die out in the case in which it would “transform itself into a gang of animal-tormenting sadists” (Birnbacher, Verantwortung für zukünftige Generationen, Reclam, Stuttgart 1988, p. 86). Now, mankind has in fact long since been, essentially, a community which jointly commissions the torture of animals. This is true in the sense that the animal-tormenting consequences of the consumption of meat have long since been known – either through directly witnessing them, through participating in this torture, or via the media – to almost all human beings. We live in the Information Age and many media report at least at intervals of once a fortnight or so on the sufferings of livestock.

Nonetheless, the globally ever-increasing community of meat-eaters tends to adopt a mocking attitude to vegetarians, justifying their persistence in the eating of meat with the ephemeral pleasures of the palate that it affords, while all along knowing that the price of these pleasures is the suffering of living beings. If the value of these taste-experiences is questioned they will invariably be confirmed (although sufficient nourishment of equal nutritive value is available). This indirect sadism (human beings act, as consumers, consciously in such a way that unnecessary suffering is inflicted on other animals so that they themselves can enjoy meat) fulfils the conditions of Birnbacher’s judgment on the human race and is thus sufficient cause for the emergence of >Species Shame. At the same time it must be supposed that this indirect sadism is not limited to non-human animals.

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