Two interesting essays were posted on Rationally Speaking that take an outsider’s look at issues surrounding the welfare vs abolition schism.
in Vegetarianism: moral stance or mere preference? Michael De Dora writes about how vegetarianism as a moral stance devolves into a preference when welfare improvements make it hard to justify a moral high ground. He can find no ethical reason not to kill well-treated animals for food for Kant-inspired lack of cognitive abilities that humans are capable.
Scott Berjot-Stafiej counters that post with Is a Humane Killing Ethical? (ignore that poor image choice). In it he expounds on the myriad of ways animals have demonstrated similar cognitive abilities as humans. He comes up with an equation that goes like this:
Reason (R) + Enjoyment/Happiness (E) + Suffering (S) + Projection (P) = Value of Life/Rights attributed to Life (V)
R+E+S+P = V
He also introduces a new variable and that is the will to live. Does that mean we shouldn’t even kill cockroaches? Well, practical application of the equation may enter the picture which he describes further.
Check them both out, great stuff!