ABSTRACT

Jewish shechitah or ritual slaughtering and Islamic halal slaughtering forbid the pre-stunning of animals. This leads to a factual conflict with legal prescriptions to the contrary. The conflict is a factual, rather than a principled, one, since neither religion disregards animal welfare and the minimization of animal suffering. In contemporary pluralist societies, many different ethical standards and conceptions of a good life have to live elbow-to-elbow and find political solutions to moral conflicts. Such moral pluralism and necessity for conciliation and compromise is clearly exemplified by the case of religious practitioners asking for ritual slaughter coexisting with people who include the concern for animal welfare among their ethical priorities. The form of hedonistic utilitarianism that is advocated here seems well suited to provide a common ground for discussion. Utilitarianism would prescribe vegetarianism as the only ethical option regarding human nutrition.