PHIL 1100 -- Ethics
Fall 2014
Prof. Chris Heathwood

T.A. Alex Wolf-Root
University of Colorado Boulder


Homework Assignment: Benjamin Franklin's Argument against Vegetarianism

5 points

Due in class on Friday, Nov. 7, 2014, at the beginning of class

emailed homework will NOT be accepted


In his autobiography (1791), Benjamin Franklin wrote:

... in my first voyage from Boston ... our people set about catching cod, and hauled up a great many.  Hitherto I had stuck to my resolution of not eating animal food, and on this occasion consider'd ... the taking every fish as a kind of unprovoked murder, since none of them had, or ever could do us any injury that might justify the slaughter.  All this seemed very reasonable.  But I had formerly been a great lover of fish, and, when this came hot out of the frying-pan, it smelt admirably well.  I balanc'd some time between principle and inclination, till I recollected that, when the fish were opened, I saw smaller fish taken out of their stomachs; then thought I, "If you eat one another, I don't see why we mayn't eat you."  So I din'd upon cod very heartily, and continued to eat with other people, returning only now and then occasionally to a vegetable diet.  So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.

(See another relevant passages here, if you are interested.)

Your homework assignment is to extract Benjamin Franklin's argument for the permissibility of killing and eating fish.

Your answer, which can be handwritten, should consist of just three sentences: two premises and a conclusion.  (Do also include your name, the date, and "PHIL 1100 Homework Assignment: Benjamin Franklin's Argument").

Here are some tips:

In class, we'll evaluate Franklin's argument together.