Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Our Blinders

Love to pick on economists:

Here's Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution:
"Animal rights will be the big social revolution of the 21st century. Most people have a vague feeling that factory farms aren’t quite ethical."
 I want to point out the blindness--the "most people".  With my background I don't really buy the argument, or maybe it's better to say the issue is more complex for me than the average brown bear. Anyhow, when I read it, I resisted the concept a bit.  But when you think about it--who are the people who Prof. Tabarrok has in his head?  They're likely people like him, members of the urban elite. I venture to say that most members of American society don't think about the ethics of factory farming at all. And I venture to say that most people in foreign countries have no opinion on the issue.

My point is it's easy to slip into a generalization which isn't true, particularly when it's a binary issue: is factory farming ethical or not? IMHO it's more accurate to talk about gradations and percentages: a majority of the urban elite (especially native white elites) who have an opinion would likely have questions about the ethics of factory farming.

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