I ran into this Philosophical ramble – and, I am sorry to say, I lost the link – and thought I would pass it on.
Suppose that you are a cow philosopher contemplating the welfare of cows. In the world today there are about 1.3 billion of your compatriots. It would be a fine thing for cows if all cows were well treated and if none were slaughtered for food. Nevertheless, being a clever cow, you understand that it’s the demand for beef that brings cows to life. How do you regard such a trade off?
If each cow brought to life adds even some small bit of cow utility to the grand total of cow welfare must not beef eaters be lauded, at least if they are hungry enough? Or is the pro beef-eater argument simply repugnant.
Should a cow behind a haystack of ignorance choose the world with the highest expectation of utility? In which case, a world of many cows each destined for slaughter could well be preferable to one with many fewer but happier cows.
Or is it wrong to compare the zero of non-existence with existence? Should a cow philosopher focus on making
cows happy or on making happy cows? If the former, would one (or two) supremely happy cows not be best?
I think these questions are important both for thinking about cows and animal rights and for human beings.
I have never though about this for cows, but I have thought about it in regard to Ducks Unlimited1; but I am very glad that somebody is thinking about it. The world a better place.
1Who spend a lot of time and money on duck habitat so they can kill them (the ducks) and, of course, duck art for duck stamps.