The Meat Paradox, Omnivore’s Akrasia, and Animal Ethics
Department of Philosophy, Contemporary History and Political Science, University of Turku, 20014 Turku, Finland
Received: 20 September 2019 / Revised: 28 October 2019 / Accepted: 9 December 2019 / Published: 12 December 2019
Psychologists have used the term “meat paradox” to explain why people may emphasize their concern for animal welfare and yet eat meat, the production of which has caused suffering to nonhuman creatures. This paper explores the meat paradox through the philosophical concept “akrasia”. Akrasia refers to a situation, where one believes in a fact or value x, and yet acts against that fact or value. The paper uses the term “omnivore’s akrasia” to denote a state where one believes in the value of animal wellbeing and nonetheless consumes products which have caused animal suffering. The claim of the paper is that understanding of the meat paradox can be significantly broadened with the use of philosophical takes on akrasia, which underline notions such as moral reason and virtue. Another claim is that it is through enhancing one’s moral ability that both the meat paradox and omnivore’s akrasia may be reduced. Specific factors included in such enhancement are introduced and compared with “nudging”. In the conflicting era when the meat industry is rapidly growing on a global scale whilst attitudes toward other animals are becoming increasingly positive, exploring the phenomenon of both eating and caring for animals is of clear societal, political, and moral significance.