In this week’s reading, particularly focusing on Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation in chapter ten titled “Global Realization”, Schlosser discusses the global presence that many fast food chains began to have in the early 90’s, ranging from nations such as Germany all the way to countries like China. The particular part that caught my interest in this chapter was the section where Schlosser explained that McDonald’s opened up approximately five new restaurants each day, including four somewhere overseas (pg. 82). What strikes me as upsetting is that this book was written and published back in 2002, meaning that I could only surmise as to how high the number of newly built fast food restaurants there are now and how many there are built each day. In highlighting this point, it is significantly telling of just how tight the fast food industry has its grip over the United States, but also over other countries of the world as well. In fact comprehending this notion is in itself exhausting because fast food industries are widely understood as terrible places to consistently go to eat and yet even so, they are able to expand their reach without any effort at all it seems. However, one particular way that I think would work in contributing to the crippling of fast food industries, at least beginning in western societies, is the spreading awareness and allowing transparency of slaughterhouses that fast food industries utilize in order to make and sell their products. As I have stated in my other posts, I believe that if the doors were to be blown off, sort of speak, of the ways in which we are acquiring our foods, then it would set forth a snow ball effect that would allow more and more people from across the globe to be aware of what they are actually eating. And by that I mean showing people the process in which animals are first bred to become our meals all the way to point that they are served at fast food chains as kids’ meals or other marketable products.
In this week’s reading, particularly addressing Peter Singer’s chapter titled, “Speciesism Today…”, it discusses the topic of the arguments that are made in support of remaining a speciest, how many people come to believe and use such notions of thought to support their rationale in continuing to eat meat, and it also includes examples about how there has been development in countering many of the arguments made that defend the slaughtering of animals and support mass animal liberation. One particular point that stood out for me in this chapter was where Singer mentioned how our mentality towards eating meat has been instilled in us at a young age and it has made us, in a sense, self disciplined into not questioning the fact of our animal flesh eating habits (pg. 213-214). I find this point exceptionally interesting, because it is fundamentally true. When looking back at the earlier years of schooling, it was (and still is) widely taught that eating meat and drinking milk was essentially good for you, so you could grow up healthy. However, what of course wasn’t taught was the process in how those meats and dairy products came about. If such a thing were implemented in school teachings, it would offer many children the opportunity to be able to have a choice in deciding if they wanted to continue to eat meat or not, instead of just automatically following the customs. In addition, it would encourage the parents of those children to seek out alternative and diverse diets rather than just strictly maintaining a meat-based diet.
In this weeks’ reading, specifically focusing on Thomas Nagal’s writings of “What is it like to be a bat?”, Nagal dives into this piece by exploring the realm of the possibility of knowing or at least having an idea of thinking to know of what it would be like to be a bat, however, he promptly states the fact that this discussion is different from imagining how a bat behaves and as such should not be confused with the former question.
In reading this piece, I particularly enjoyed his view on objectivity of perspective, as I would hold the same or at least a similar argument. This is because, while humans are able to use their imagination to try and put themselves in other people’s perspective, it is relatively difficult even though we are all of the same species. However, in regards to other species such as a bat, the idea of what it would be like to be a bat, as Nagal argues, seems to be inaccessible to us as humans in regards to our language. In other words it’s indescribable. As the only plausible way such a perspective could prevail is if we were objectively similar to the thing that we were attempting to ascribe to, as is again the example of a human trying to put themselves in the shoes, metaphorically speaking, of another human being because one can deduce that while the subjective experiences may differ dramatically in certain instances, the objective experience of a human overall, not including those with disabilities, would be fairly similar if not the same. Still, trying to come up with an objective idea of what it would be like to be a bat, or any other animal is still fairly interesting even though it would technically be impossible to be able to accurately describe.
For this weeks’ reading of Bekoff’s book titled, “The Animal Manifesto”, particularly addressing the chapter of “Our World Is Not Compassionate To Animals” it goes into depth about the many ways in which the world that humans have created for themselves, essentially has little to no compassionate nor empathy in regards to the animals that also occupy our world. One particular part in his chapter that caught my interest was where Bekoff mentioned how far-reaching animal use is in our society and yet how little we actually are aware of it and as a result of this, it has led to little compassion being shown for animals, as how could one show compassion and emphasize with animals when we never see what is being done to them (Pg. 136)? In regards to this point, I feel as though it is one that needs to be constantly asserted and then reasserted, so that it can finally stick in people’s heads that there are things that are happening in our society that are very much affecting us without our knowledge of it doing so. In this case, I am of course talking about how we treat animals overall. This is why I think it should be mandatory for there to be full transparency in any animal related institution, whether it be zoos, slaughterhouses, circuses, etc, in how animals are being treated. The importance of this is that if there was more transparency, more people would be aware of the inhumane suffering that animals go through and thus could prevent many more animals from suffering the same fate.
In a hypothetical sense, if there were a way that I could easily convert people to a vegetarian or vegan diet, I would first start with the plan of making it mandatory for schools to provide lessons about where meat comes from, how it is transformed into what we see at the stores and what is the overall effects in producing meat as food. I believe by doing this, it would not only spread awareness about the negative effects of meat production, but it would also offer the younger generation a chance to choose the dietary lifestyle that they want to live from a younger age. In addition to this, I would also make it so where legislation in government supported full transparency of animal factory farms and slaughterhouses. The importance of this is that it would allow people in general to know and stay aware of how animals are treated up to the point of their death but it would also show how the workers in such places are being significantly mistreated. Lastly, if all else failed and there was still a decline in vegetarian and vegan dietary switching then I would create an army of Dylan clones, in which we would make it our mission that whenever we saw people eating anything meat-related, such as a hamburger, we would run up to said people and throw a bucket of cow’s blood (which would only be acquired from cows that died of natural causes) on them and shout “Murderer!” and “Viva la revolución!” and then run away to safe hidden spot. I believe this particular method would make a large number of people reconsider their dietary options and thus go vegetarian and or vegan, as I would think that no one would enjoy having cow’s blood thrown all over them and their burger that they spent $1.50 on plus tax. Of course, this is all hypothetical and it is unclear if such tactic would work.
In this week’s reading, particularly addressing Peter Singer’s chapter titled, “Down on the Factory Farms” of his book Animal Liberation, he discusses the issue of factory farming, as well as the inhumane process that nonhuman animals typically go through in becoming our supply of consumption. In addition, he also speaks about the cruel living conditions that many of the animals have been forced to be born, raised, and then killed in, all for the purpose of becoming our meal for the day.
In discussing this topic, I would particularly like to focus on one of Singer’s sentences in this chapter. He states that, “By using the more general “meat” we avoid the fact that what we are eating is really flesh” (pg 96). In going back to our last discussion about transparency and how if there was more of it, in relation to factory farms, then more likely than not, less people would contribute to the eating of animal flesh, and in this regard I agree, but part of my conscious disagrees with that same notion. This is because I feel that with that same argument, it could potentially lead to an initial shock of the consciousness, if more people became aware of the process of factory farms, however, in that same right, it could also reveal something else about what the lack of transparency of factory farms has done to people. It could simply be the fact that because we are sheltered off from seeing the truth that goes on behind closed doors of factory farms, that that is why there would be a dramatic result in the decline of people eating animal flesh, rather than if the process of factory farms were already out in the open for everyone to have the opportunity in seeing, it may be that we wouldn’t be so emotionally scarred and shocked from the process and thus we wouldn’t even consider not eating animal flesh.
In this week’s reading, specifically discussing Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, of chapter eight, titled “The Most Dangerous Job”, Schlosser provides a detailed mixture of his own observational account of a slaughterhouse, the history of workers rights in regards to slaughterhouses, as well as a variety of different experiences that were told to him by previous workers of slaughterhouses.
In reading this chapter, I remembered our most recent class discussion about how if there was more transparency of slaughterhouses and how animals are truly handled up until their death, would it lead to less mistreatment of animals and less people eating meat? The interesting part about this question is that it doesn’t include how such possible transparency could impact workers of slaughterhouses. In my opinion, if there was more transparency of slaughterhouses to the general public, It would not only offer an opportunity for animals to be possibly treated more fairly (up until their death that is), but it would also offer the same kind of opportunity for workers in slaughterhouses to be treated better while they are working. I couldn’t help but feel a mixture of frustration in reading how the workers were treated and a sense of relief that I am so privileged that I don’t have to suffer in such a manner that the slaughterhouse workers most undoubtedly do. This, of course, would signify to me, at the very least, that not only should transparency be a requirement of slaughterhouses, but so to should education for the workers of slaughterhouses be provided in them knowing their rights as workers, so that at least they aren’t treated like just another body of meat, as the animals unfortunately are.
In this weeks reading, particularly focusing on Peter Singer’s chapter titled “Man’s Dominion”, Singer provides a detailed historical account of the different systems of thought that have generally contributed to the presumption of human superiority over animals and what has also led to a world governed by speciesist ideology.
In the chapter, Singer provides a historical discussion about the three components that have largely had an affect on western thought, which are: Pre-Christian, Christian, and the Enlightenment and after. The interesting and yet unfortunate realization that came to my mind after going through the chapter was that, even with systems of thought that are and have been frequently hailed as a moral compass for humans to follow, their theological doctrines have historically discounted the significance of treating animals with respect. In other words, the argument could be made (as I’m sure it has already) that because science focuses on the concepts of that which aligns with logic, facts and evidence, it would be more obvious and in a sense expected that science, as a system of thought in its own right, to be indifferent to such things as animal emotions and suffering. However, it seems unusual that a moral dogma, such as Christianity, that is supposed to guide humans in being kind and humble creatures, in fact teaches them and prescribes to them that animals are theirs to use and abuse as they please. Frankly, this highlights just how deeply speciesism is ingrained into our society. Furthermore, it also brings to the light the question of how difficult would it be to make people aware of their specisist mentality through the use of moral arguments, when many people’s morals are directly derived from theology practices that does not value animals. To put it bluntly, there is a huge disconnect that must be bridged before the majority of people can truly comprehend their specisist ideologies on a grand scale.
For this weeks’ readings, specifically addressing two of Masson’s chapters, one titled “Fear, Hope, And The Terrors of Dreams” and the other titled “Love and Friendship”, Masson goes into great detail and explanation about the many emotions of nonhuman animals. Furthermore, he also goes on to highlight the strong reluctance and stubbornness of scientist not wanting to prescribe such emotions to animal behavior and reprimanding those who do.
One of the reasons for this is the fact that scientist largely attribute animal behavior with that of instinct and thus make great efforts to avoid giving “human characteristics” to animals. However, this type of thinking seems to be misplaced, since the way many animals tend to act, whether in their natural habitat or in captivity, display certain behavioral characteristics that many people would commonly and easily identify as emotions. As Masson points out, one common emotion that scientist tend to reject from animals is love and yet there are countless examples of animals displaying such an emotion. For instance, specifically speaking about parental love, Masson illustrated an example of how a male chimpanzee’s mother had died and the male made great efforts at trying to wake his mother up by tugging at her hand. However, with the death of his mother, the male chimpanzee grew depressed and eventually died a month later from a disease. In other words, the male chimpanzee died from the grief it felt about the loss of its mother. Explaining the event as instinctive does not make much sense, however, classifying it as an emotional response seems to illustrate perfectly the cause of what killed the male chimpanzee. Lastly, as Masson highlights that while many would still classify such behavior as instinctive, people have also succumb to illnesses and disease through their lack of emotional well-being. Therefore, if a person can grieve from the loss of a loved one and it is recognized as an emotion, why can’t a chimpanzee feel the same way?
In this weeks’ reading of Beckoff’s “Animals Think and Feel” and Masson’s “In Defense of Emotion”, both authors go into great depth of supporting the controversial question of whether animals can think logically and feel emotions, such as humans do. In their stance, both authors not only address the issue of anecdotal evidence within scientific explorations, but they also question and highlight the conservative nature that science and scientific research has taken up specifically in regards to animals.
I believe both authors make a good point about the subject of anecdotal evidence. Anecdotal evidence is often times discounted and ignored within the scientific community particularly when it comes to the studying of animals. While I acknowledge why this is largely the case, because it is most likely easier and more effective to study the pattern of behaviors that are understandable and transparent, opposed to studying rare and thought to be unexplainable emotional animal behavior, however, assuming this is the case, it can be argued that it is those seldom moments and extraordinarily rare emotional behaviors that animals portray, that should be the primary focus of research. One could easily make the argument that a fact is a fact because all evidence (at that given time) that supports it being a fact is accounted for. However, how can we strongly make the claim that what we have come to know about animals are all indeed facts when all the evidence is not being accounted for because it is considered anecdotal evidence?