The morality of eating foie gras

Michael LeBossiere, at The Philosophers’ Magazine Online, looks at the morality of eating foie gras.

“The debate over the morality of mistreating animals and eating them is clearly philosophically interesting. However, this situation also raises another matter of concern: this debate has clearly revealed that philosophical ignorance is rather widespread among those discussing the matter. This ignorance, one may safely assume, probably extends beyond this issue. A May 2, 2005 article, ‘A Flap Over Foie Gras,’ in Newsweek nicely reveals the nature of the ignorance-all quotes below are taken from that article (page 58).

First, consider the position of American-French chef Rick Tramonto. In response to chef Charlie Trotter’s decision to stop serving foie gras (but to keep serving other meat dishes), chef Tramonto said ‘Either you eat animals or you don’t eat animals.’ While this is a good example of a tautology (a claim that is true in virtue of its logical structure), it also nicely expresses the fallacy known as false dilemma. The idea is that a person present two alternatives, rejects one and then asserts that the remaining one must be correct. This reasoning is fallacious when there are, in fact, more than two alternatives-both of the presented alternatives could be incorrect/false, while a third (or twentieth) alternative is correct/true.

While it is true that one either does or does not eat animals, there certainly are many alternatives lying between not eating animals at all and eating any animal.”