PHIL 1100 -- Ethics
Prof. Chris Heathwood
University of Colorado Boulder
Homework Assignment: Benjamin Franklin's Argument against Vegetarianism
Due in class on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, 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.
Your homework assignment is (1) to extract Benjamin Franklin's argument for the permissibility of killing and eating fish, and then (2) to come up with an objection to his argument (e.g., in the form of a counterexample to the moral principle he appeals to). Your answer can be handwritten. Be sure to include your name, the date, and "PHIL 1100 Homework Assignment: Ben Franklin's Argument."
Your answer to part (1) should consist of just three sentences: two premises and a conclusion. Your answer to part (2) will probably be anywhere from a sentence to a paragraph long.
Here are some tips in coming up with the argument: