Can animals ever feel disgusted?

Ethicists on cruelty-free nutrition: "People can eat animals"

Defense of livestock farming: animals do not have the same right to life as humans, says ethicist Norbert Hoerster.

No pig - but maybe these piglets will at least end up as organic sausage Photo: dpa

taz: Mr. Hoerster, many vegans think that people should forego animal foods. What do you mean?

Norbert Hoerster: People are allowed to eat animals. Because most of the animals we eat were created by humans to be eaten. As early as the 19th century, the British writer Leslie Stephen wrote: "The pig itself has the greatest interest in the demand for bacon". If humans were not interested in eating meat, most farm animals would not even be alive.

According to this logic, one could also specifically create people in order to exploit them.

No, humans are naturally equipped differently than animals. Animals do not have this interest in survival that is typical for humans. Animals simply live in the here and now. But people have a strong need to be alive tomorrow or in a year's time - people have goals and plans that reach far into the future.

But don't animals also have an instinct for survival?

Naturally. For example, some animals collect food as early as autumn in order to have enough to eat in winter. But there is a big difference whether this is only determined by evolution or whether it is purposeful action, as is the case with humans.

Many mammals and birds also have long memories. Does that speak against the fact that animals only live in the here and now?

That doesn't speak against it as far as the future is concerned. Only in the case of great apes is this different. You can argue whether you should give them a right to life. But this does not apply to farm animals such as pigs or chickens.

The 79-year-old ethicist is a professor emeritus for legal and social philosophy at the University of Mainz. He is the author of the book “Do animals have dignity? Basic questions of animal ethics ”(Verlag C. H. Beck 2004).

There are also people who cannot act in the long term. An example of this are infants. In your opinion, should they be locked up or even killed?

No, of course I would refuse. On the one hand, everyone has a strong interest at least in their own children so that they continue to live. Therefore, he must accept that he must not kill other children either. On the other hand, it is true that children develop this human survival interest very slowly. But they just develop it - unlike animals.

Why is a human life worth more than an animal life from a human point of view?

Simply because we humans have a greater interest in our own welfare than in the welfare of animals. One also has a greater interest in one's own well-being than in the well-being of one's neighbor. This does not mean that you are completely indifferent to the welfare of your neighbor or that you are not willing to spend anything on it. But when it comes to deciding between one or the other, then instinctively, out of natural needs, one prefers one's own well-being.

Under what conditions can we humans cause pain to animals?

At most, if it is a necessary condition to prevent greater pain in people. For example, if the doctor can only save a person's life by beating the horse that is supposed to bring him to the person so that it runs as quickly as possible.

Can humans kill animals and thus inflict pain on them in order to feed themselves?

I only consider animal husbandry to be legitimate if, firstly, the animals are kept in a species-appropriate manner and, secondly, are killed painlessly - i.e. under anesthesia.

Then animal rights activists say: "Only freedom is species-appropriate."

If you have five chickens on your property, I don't know what the problem is. The animals have a lot of space, they can live out their needs.

But five chickens are not enough to feed an entire city. Is it even possible with animal welfare to provide a people with enough animal food?

Most people need to eat less meat. Not only from an ethical point of view, but also in your own interest from a health perspective. But even if you have 1,000 animals instead of 100, for example, it is possible to keep them species-appropriate if the area is animal-friendly, i.e. especially large enough.

Is the animal husbandry that prevails in Germany appropriate to the species?

Our animal welfare law is pretty good. But it is one thing what the law looks like in theory and another how it is put into practice. There are still clear shortcomings.

Collaboration: Jonas Achorner