Using Of Living Animals According to Consider the Lobster Essay

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

The Novelist and essayist David Foster Wallace, in the title essay “Consider the Lobster,” finds it curious that lobster is the one creature that is usually cooked while still alive. His observations leads to question our justifications for eating lobster and any other animals we eat altogether. Wallace mentions his claims and arguments on how he feels that cooking a live lobster to be unethical. In the essay, he mentions many reasons why this is an unethical practice. He personifies the lobster, he mentions how no one life is more important than another and he believes all life should be created equal. He argues that people should feel some form of empathy over these lobsters.

Wallace makes very clear that he forbids the act of harming any animal. He strictly enforces how we should feel empathy for the lobsters being cooked alive because people simply don’t understand anyone else’s pain but your own:

“Since pain is a totally subjective mental experience, we do not have direct access to anyone or anything’s pain but our own; and even just the principles by which we can infer that other human beings experience pain and have a legitimate interest in not feeling pain involve hard core philosophy.”

Wallace informs the readers that we have no idea if other animals/lobsters feel pain so why exactly is it right to make a lobster suffer in a boiling hot pot of water? Wallace does a great job arguing on how he personifies lobsters. He personifies the lobsters because they act similar in way when they are being cooked and ready to be eaten: “The lobster will sometimes try to cling to the container’s sides or even hook its claws over the kettle’s rim like a person trying to keep from going over the edge of a roof.” Wallace is informing the reader that we act in similar ways than lobsters, we would do a similar thing to try and stay alive if we were being dropped in a pot ready to be cooked alive.

Wallace also argues that no one life is more important than another. In this instance he is basically saying that human lives are not any more important than animals lives. Wallace names the whole animal-cruelty-and-eating-issue as an “uncomfortable” thing to do because some animals suffer. There are two main points that most ethics agree on for whether a living animal has the capacity to suffer. “One is how much of the neurological hardware required for pain-experience the animal comes equipped with. And the other criterion is whether the animal demonstrates behavior associated with pain.” And according to Wallace and the many of people that may have witnessed this, but lobsters act in both of those main points.

Wallace is correct when he states that animal cruelty is really not right. Wallace is also partially correct when he states that eating lobster is unethical because of reasons toward empathy. My reasoning for partially agreeing with Wallace is that I don’t agree with how making lobsters suffer and them eating them is right. I am in full support for eating lobster because it can be a very enjoyable meal. But thinking deeper after hearing Wallace’s arguments makes me think differently about preparing a lobster dinner. To some readers this appeal can persuade people’s opinions on the fact that eating lobster is unethical. The big factor of why people might change their opinions on how eating lobster is unethical is because of empathy. Some people, like David Foster Wallace, believe that a lobster’s life should be no more important than another human. The readers that have the ability to empathize with Wallace’s arguments are the ones that will be persuaded to think again before eating lobster.

On the other hand, maybe some readers can be persuaded about eating lobster because of empathy but in the world we live in there will always be those people that will disagree with the argument Wallace makes. Which also makes me think deeper about it and partially disagree with Wallace’s thinking. One reason why I would disagree with his argument because humans have been eating lobster their entire life. There are not many people like David Foster Wallace that disagrees with the people eating lobster. It makes me think of how humans eat meat like steak, chicken and pork. Those three foods come from an animal and we barely stop to think about how those animals might feel. Most people might argue that “all life eventually dies” and I can agree with that and by eating meats and eating lobster that to some people may be a ethical practice to stay alive and in shape.

To support why I would disagree with Wallace’s argument is because of an article from a New York Times magazine by the author Jay Bost who wrote “Sometimes It’s More Ethical To Eat Meat than Vegetables.” Bost wrote primarily about how eating meat is more ethical than eating vegetables and Bost has a few arguments to support his thinking:

“For me, eating meat is ethical when one does three things. First, you accept the biological reality that death begets life on this planet and that all life (including us!) is really just solar energy temporarily stored in an impermanent form. Second, you combine this realization with that cherished human trait of compassion and choose ethically raised food, vegetable, grain and/or meat. And third, you give thanks.”

To sum that up his arguments basically say that one, all life is basically “solar energy” in a form that will eventually die at sometime, second because they will eventually die and it’s just ethically how humans get their protein intake in this world. And lastly, because we give thanks to all the meat. The real reason why this evidence complicates Wallace’s appeal is that eating food that biologically comes from animals is a really ethical thing that humans do.

When you come to realize this topic, people like Jay Bost and many other people make a good argument. To think all life dies at some point in time, it makes a lot of people think that eating meats and any food that comes from living animals not seem too unethical. The principle that Wallace describes is that animals like lobsters have to suffer by being cooked alive in a boiling pot of water. Some may empathize with his thinking but it is not a universal value that everyone shares. Before reading his essay I never really understood what kind of wrong I was doing by making a nice lobster bake with family members over the summer. But after reading the essay, Wallace made me think more deeply about how this principle may be an unethical practice. I think the ultimate goal that came out of this essay was not to persuade people to believe that eating lobster is unethical, I believe this essay was written to make reader think more deeply about eating lobster.


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