Question: Dog Meat
Answer: Dylan Schlaak ’14
There are many approaches to this problem that stem from that fact that we are intuitively uncomfortable with the idea of a family eating their own pet. But what we need to examine is the foundation of such arguments, and question their soundness. I believe that the reason people become so attached to domestic pets is that we, as humans, have a tendency to anthropomorphize other animate (and even in animate) things. We are familiar with domestic pets because we spend a lot of time around them. We are used to their habits and their normal reactions to situations. From these observations, we commonly infer a sort of personality to the pet – an aggregation of certain characteristics that would account for the behavior we observe in the pet. There are other reasons for why we have a propensity to personify animals, but I believe this to be chief among them. That said, the situation illustrated in this blog post is much like the last one in that it provides the most benign scenario possible for the actors. They didn’t kill the dog, nor did they have any intentions to do so. Given the evident lack of malintent on the part of the family, I find it hard to characterize their actions as anything other than the matter of some living organisms integrating the matter of a dead one. We could object to this cold, emotionless view of this situation, but what would be our grounds for doing so? We could say that, though the personhood of the animal may have been artifice, the relationship between the pet and family was real, and that to eat the dead body of the dog violates some principle of relationship, but I don’t see this as a persuasive argument. There need not follow from this action any psychological repercussions on the part of the family, because in reality, no one is being harmed. Furthermore, we don’t even need to establish the necessity of the action itself. This might help us conclude that this specific action was justified given the fact that eating pets as a general rule is immoral, but as I’ve outlined already, the simple act of consuming the dead flesh of another animal (pet or not) cannot have intrinsic moral implications.