Talk: “Confronting carnivory: The ethics and politics of animals eating animals”


Josh Milburn (Postdoctoral Fellow in Animal Ethics, Department of Philosophy, Queen’s University) will be presenting a talk on “Confronting carnivory: The ethics and politics of animals eating animals” at the Philosophy colloquium on Thursday, Nov. 3rd at 4:00 pm (Watson Hall, room 521).


Questions about the diets of nonhuman animals have been almost entirely absent from both animal ethics and the philosophy of food. Nonetheless, they raise a range of distinctive normative problems of both theoretical and practical significance. One of the most pressing issues concerns feeding meat to our companions, especially those, like cats, who are carnivorous. Companion diets – especially carnivore diets – must be analysed separately from human diets; indeed, depending on the arguments used to defend the consumption of animal products, even committed meat-eaters may have reasons to worry about feeding meat to companions. In this paper, I will first diagnose what I call the problem of carnivory and then canvass a range of possible solutions. Both the status quo and the possibility of somehow ending our relationships with carnivores are deeply undesirable, but the best alternative depends on whether carnivory is framed as a moral problem or a political problem. Guardians today, if unable to feed their companion a vegan diet, could scavenge meat or rely on the eggs of rescued chickens, and non- or plausibly-sentient animals could provide an ethically-justifiable source of meat. As societies, we can seek more permanent solutions through research, including research to develop vegan diets appropriate for particular carnivores and research to develop lab-grown meat.

Everyone welcome. If you have accessibility requirements, please contact Judy Vanhooser (