Faculty Research at Morehead State University


Unnecessary Pain, Nutrition, and Vegetarianism


Jack Weir

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 1991


This paper is an analysis of one of the main moral arguments for vegetarianism, the vegetarian argument from unnecessary pain. This argument is derived from the moral principle that unnecessary pain is wrong, and obviously the soundness of any argument using the principle depends on what is meant by the terms 'unnecessary' and 'pain.' The term 'unnecessary' can refer to either: (a) an end that is itself unnecessary (and, therefore, whatever pain is endured in gaining the end is a fortiori unnecessary); or (b) an unnecessary means to a necessary end (namely, the means is unnecessary because another means is available). My concern in this paper is with the second interpretation, and so I can make only a few brief remarks about the first. Although the term pain' functions in both, its analysis is best undertaken as part of the longer, fuller analysis.