Possibly the guiding principle of modernity is that any problem can be solved if people just put their minds to it. Science and liberalism have been astonishing successes in raising the standard of living, in an objective sense, for more people than at any other time in history. People like Steven Pinker love to wax optimistic about how Enlightenment values and scientific progress have made the world an objectively better place to live than ever before, with the implication that things will only get better. But is this really true?
I have made no secret about the fact that I am a philosophical pessimist. Hell, my blog, the one you are reading right now, is called the cynical philosopher. My general disposition is one of nihilism and general misanthropy. This grim view of things is often considered one for the weak. For those who can’t hack it and have given up. I couldn’t agree more with this assessment. But I think there is a case to be made that giving up is a sensible position to take.
I am not a vegan, or even a vegetarian, but I recognize my own cognitive dissonance on the issue. That’s not to award myself any brownie points or anything, just a statement of fact. Indeed, it likely only makes my own cognitive dissonance on the issue even worse.
I think even the most avid hunter or advocate of the carnivore diet would decline to offer any defense of the factory farming industry, which is an important subcategory of the overarching animal rights issue in general. But there is more hypocrisy involved than just the overt acceptance of factory farming imposed by law and the tacit acceptance of factory farming in everyday people as they turn a blind eye to it and continue consuming animal products, thereby maintaining the very demand that resulted in the invention of factory farming.