Ethics vs Morals

People question the ethics of eating meat all the time, and it invariably leads to some raucous debate. That often leads to some raucous name-calling, but we’ll be avoiding that here… 🙂

First of all, there’s a difference between ethics and morals, and so by extension, between ethical and moral behavior. I believe that most of the arguments are really about morals, which is why so many of those discussions end badly. Let me explain.

Ethics are rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human action or a specific group or culture. Morals, on the other hand, are principles or habits with respect to right or wrong conduct. Morality is, by definition, a personal compass for right and wrong.

To take that one step further, ethics have an external source, that being our social system. By extension, that means that ethics are dependent on others for their definition.

Morals have an internal source, that being us as individuals. That means they are not dependent on others, but are an intensely personal thing.

Now, think about the way intensively farmed animals are treated in this country, and in pretty much every other country you can think of. If ethics are defined externally and come from our social system, then intensive farming is actually ethical. We condone it as a society every time we order that pulpy, shitty pork from Coles or Woollies. We give our implicit permission for it every time we buy battery-farmed eggs, or those ridiculous 7 week old fatty chickens that are peddled as a healthy option. By society’s very actions, be they driven by ignorance or apathy, we are making intensive farming ethically acceptable.

However, I found intensive farming morally reprehensible. I really can’t express just how angry it gets me, and I’ll save that rant for another post. For now, suffice it to say that while intensive farming may be accepted by society, and so be ethically acceptable to a lot of people, it should be questioned morally.

I firmly believe that ethics and morals should be constantly challenged, as they’re worth nothing unless they can stand up to scrutiny. May aim is to show people an alternative way to source their meat. By connecting people to where their meat comes from, I hope to challenge their moral stand-point on intensive farming. If you can influence enough individuals, then you can start influencing the society of which they are part. If you can do that, you can swing the ethical compass. If you can do that, you can affect true and lasting change.



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