Knowing Animals Reading Group May 28 - 'Chewing Over In Vitro Meat'

This reading group we continue our thematic focus on flesh/meat/morality, considering some of the implications of in vitro meat/lab grown flesh.

The reading is 'Chewing Over In Vitro Meat: Animal Ethics, Cannibalism and Social Progress', by Josh Milburn, Res Publica (2016) 22: 249-265.

Where: The Linkway, Level 4, John Medley (Building 191), The University of Melbourne

When: 5.30-6.30pm, Monday 28th April 2018

All welcome, please join us for the discussion.


Despite its potential for radically reducing the harm inflicted on nonhuman animals in the pursuit of food, there are a number of objections grounded in animal ethics to the development of in vitro meat. In this paper, I defend the possibility against three such concerns. I suggest that worries about reinforcing ideas of flesh as food and worries about the use of nonhuman animals in the production of in vitro meat can be overcome through appropriate safeguards and a fuller understanding of the interests that nonhuman animals actually possess. Worries about the technology reifying speciesist hierarchies of value are more troublesome, however. In response to this final challenge, I suggest that we should be open not just to the production of in vitro nonhuman flesh, but also in vitro human flesh. This leads to a consideration of the ethics of cannibalism. The paper ultimately defends the position that cannibalism simpliciter is not morally problematic, though a great many practices typically associated with it are. The consumption of in vitro human flesh, however, is able to avoid these problematic practices, and so should be considered permissible. I conclude that animal ethicists and vegans should be willing to cautiously embrace the production of in vitro flesh