The Consequences of Individual Consumption by Ben Almassi

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In “The Consequences of Individual Consumption: A Defense of Threshold Arguments for Vegetarians and Consumer Ethics,” Ben Almassi defends act-consequentialism from threshold arguments. This review will summarize the arguments he uses to defend act-consequentialism, as well as arguments he modifies, and will then interact with his views on an act-consequentialism approach to vegetarianism.
Threshold arguments are based on the gap between an individual’s choice and the resulting moral progress. In the case of vegetarianism, the threshold argument against act-consequentialism is that if an individual chooses to adhere to vegetarianism, this does not guarantee that there will be a decrease in unnecessary suffering, thus rendering choices that promote vegetarianism useless. In argument form this states that:
1. If a threshold of x cannot be realized, then consequentialist theories of vegetarianism are moot.
2. A threshold of x cannot be realized.
3. Therefore, consequentialist theories of vegetarianism are moot.
However, in his article, Almassi challenges premise two of this argument using a modified Bayesian probability theory. The Bayesian probability theory states that as new evidences develop, the degree of belief in a hypothesis increases. Almassi modifies this theory by adding role modeling into it. Using the probability theory with role modeling plugged in, Almassi shows that the threshold of x can be reached. Because of the ripple effects that our actions and choices have, there is an increase in the probability that the threshold of x has been realized. Almassi expands on role modeling by stating that role modeling affects, not only those around the individual, but also the individual himself. The more often an individual p...

... middle of paper ... of act-consequentialism because he uses the probability theory and employs role modeling in order to do so.

Works Cited

Almassi, Ben. "The Consequences of Individual Consumption: A Defence of Threshold
Arguments for Vegetarianism and Consumer Ethics." Journal Of Applied Philosophy 28, no. 4 (November 1, 2011): 396-411. Philosopher's Index, EBSCOhost (accessed February 15, 2014).

Blackburn, Simon. The Oxford dictionary of philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.

"Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada: vegetarian diets."
Canadian Journal Of Dietetic Practice And Research: A Publication Of Dietitians Of Canada = Revue Canadienne De La Pratique Et De La Recherche En Diététique: Une Publication Des Diététistes Du Canada 64, no. 2 (2003 Summer 2003): 62-81. MEDLINE with Full Text, EBSCOhost (accessed February 16, 2014).

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