South African Journal of Philosophy

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Tony Yengeni’s ritual slaughter: Animal anti-cruelty vs. Culture

K Behrens


I address the question: ‘Are acts of the ritual slaughter of animals, of the kind recently engaged in by the Yengeni family, morally justifiable?’ Using the
Yengeni incident as a springboard for my discussion, I focus on the moral
question of the relative weight of two competing ethical claims. I weigh the
claim that we have an obligation not to cause animals pain without good reason against the claim by cultures that traditional practices, such as the one
under discussion, are morally justifiable on the basis of the moral goods obtained through cultural identification and participation. I attempt to show that claims justifying practices on the basis of culture are not strong enough to outweigh the prima facie wrong of causing non-human animals unnecessary pain.
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