Rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
first edition of Animal Farm
In his essay on our “carninormative”society “More equal
than others” (TLS, 7/22/16), it only
takes Julian Baggini one throw of the dice to disarm utilitarianism in
general. The title, ofcourse, refers to
Orwell’s famous quote from Animal Farm, “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal then others," but the
idea is that meat eating, like a lot of activities is a complex matter, as is any
attempt to determine the consciousness of animals, particularly as they are
slaughtered. Baggini says, “Everyone else knows that complicity in
wrongdoing—or right-doing for that matter—does not require that your
contribution makes a measurable difference. The suicide bomber whose explosives
fail to detonate is not let off the hook. And if ten people give what turns out
to be more than enough food to someone who has none, the first nine are no more
praiseworthy than the last one. If utilitarian thinking cannot make sense of
that so much for utilitarianism.” Of course a classic utilitarian issue is the
famous Trolley problem and what's Baggini’s solution to that? The decision to
turn the trolley in the direction where it will kill only one person instead of
say 5 is a no brainer and ultimately utilitarian in its quality—though the
problem is talked about so often since it is a perfect illustration of the
intersection between ethical and utilitarian judgment. Kant for instance would
probably not have sanctioned the sacrifice of one for many since the killing of
one is wrong, in and of itself. Baggini concludes his essay thusly, “To live
honestly, as creatures of flesh and blood, we need to face these facts
squarely. Such realism is often missing in ethical theories that see any kind
of human hand in animal death as unacceptable…This isn’t Disneyland and living
authentically, as an adult, requires us to embrace fully the bitter-sweet
nature of many of our most profound pleasures.” Amen.
Francis Levy's debut novel, Erotomania: A Romance, was released in August 2008 by Two Dollar Radio.
His short stories, criticism, humor, and poetry have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Village Voice, The East Hampton Star, The Quarterly, Penthouse, Architectural Digest, TV Guide, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, and other publications. One of his Voice humor pieces was anthologized in The Big Book of New American Humor (HarperCollins). He is presently the Co-Director of The Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination (philoctetes.org), where he supervises roundtable discussions on topics as varied as “The Psychology of the Modern Nation State” and “Modern Traffic Theory, Behavior, and Imagination”.