Factory Farming Animals is Immoral
Definition of factory farming:
"a system of rearing livestock using intensive methods, by which poultry, pigs, or cattle are confined indoors under strictly controlled conditions."
Good luck! (:
I will accept that we know what "factory farming" is, so I won't quibble over its definition. However, there are a few parametric considerations. One is that a position specifically against factory farming probably doesn't object to farming of animals for use as food in general. Otherwise, it would argue this broader position. Another is the question of who or what can be a moral agent, and who or what can enjoy rights. Then there is the philisophical framework to be adopted: Kant, Mills, Rawls, etc.
Since you're proving, you get to choose these parameters of course. After you've adopted an ethics arena, I'll assume that you plan to stick with it and not switch to an alternative arena. I may have to consult at a library since I don't have a philosophy background, so bear with me if it takes me up to two days to answer.
My argument went past the 10,000 character limit. I will therefore be unable to post my paper on debate.org. However, have no fear, because my entire paper can be read here:
Just click on the link that I have just provided in order to read my opening argument.
That 10 kilobyte limit (≈ 1400 words) is there for a reason. Looking at your document, the major premise is that “it’s immoral to inflict unnecessary suffering on nonhuman animals,” and because factory farms inflict unnecessary suffering, this kind of farming is therefore immoral in a just society. There is a side argument concerning the propriety and healthfulness of a vegan diet which I won’t contest, but which is peripheral to the issue at hand: one need not advocate a particular dietary lifestyle to answer our question about factory farms.
Given the hunting sports codes and animal cruelty laws on the books in every state, I think we agree on your major premise. It is inhumane to inflict needless suffering on animals. Hence I will take exception to your minor premise, that factory farming techniques cannot avoid causing excessive suffering in the animals raised. Subjective experience is of course difficult to evaluate in creatures that don’t talk. We can never be certain that another living thing even has subjective experience to begin with, but generally accept that higher animals, especially birds and mammals, probably do have emotions and feel pain. For brevity, I will look only at pigs and pork production here.
Much of the suffering alleged in connection with gestation crates for sows, or indeed with any confinement indoors, is from deprivation. The pigs can’t move around much and their environment offers little stimulation. They then become bored and exhibit stress symptoms as a result. But do they? Michael Domjan (Essentials of Learning & Conditioning, 3rd ed., pp. 29-34) discusses the phenomenon of habituation, seen in all mammals including humans. Key here is the effect of stimulus change, that is, an animal’s responses vary from baselines only when a new stimulatory environment is presented to them. In short, we don’t miss what we have never had. While it might be cruel to take an adult free-range pig and put it in a crate—because that represents a change of its habitual environment—a pig raised from birth in a crate won’t know the difference because it has never experienced the free-range condition.
Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation (1975), is a well-known activist. In a 2002 book, The Ethics of What We Eat (pp. 42-68), Singer investigates an actual pork factory operation in Iowa, the Wayne Bradley farm, which raises about 12,000 pigs each year indoors. The owner informs him of the ways conditions in the building are better than those outdoors—when it’s 30 below, the pigs relax at 70 degrees. They are much cleaner because earth, straw, and feces are not near the animals, which are bathed frequently. They appear to spend much of their time sleeping and make little noise, where you might expect squealing were they distressed. The frozen ears and blizzard deaths of earlier farming are a thing of the past. Diseases are detected sooner and treated by veterinarians. Free-range pigs instinctively engage in combats to establish social hierarchy. This involves at best the biting off of tails, and at worst broken hips that mean having to euthanize. The Bradley farm sows do live most of their lives in the crates, but they are let out for several weeks between each litter.
Although their motive—profit—is less noble than yours, factory farmers have an interest in the comfort of their animals, because stressed pigs suffer high mortality and produce inferior meat (Jodi Sterle, “The Frequency of Porcine Stress Syndrome in Texas Show Pigs,” white paper, Texas A&M, 2002). In fact, this paper states that the leading cause of stress in pigs is actually a gene, PSS, that causes the syndrome in homozygous individuals. The pork industry educates youth entering the business on ethics and good management practices: “The use of an electric prod is a stressful event and it should be avoided…Complete withholding or severe restriction of feed or water as a weight management tool is not acceptable,” says Jodi Searle again (“Handling/Management to Prevent Stress in Show Pigs,” white paper, Texas A&M, n.d.).
Factory farming, along with nearly everything wild or domestic going on in the animal world at large, looks brutal to people. Yet we must remember that people are used to much different standards of living than animals are, and have more intellect and foresight with which to anguish over things that seem wrong to us. In a way, animals are braver and sturdier than modern people. They accept life as it is without demanding the personal increases we feel entitled to. For these reasons, and because you haven’t demonstrated inherent cruelty in factory farming itself (at least for pigs), I must reject your syllogism as unsound.
Sources used and available online. Catalog entry can be verified for the print sources.
Frequency of PSS: http://animalscience.tamu.edu...
Thanks Con, now onto my rebuttals.
I'm glad to hear that Con agrees with the major premise of my argument against factory farming animals. If you forgot, the first and main premise of my argument was:
"It's immoral to inflict unnecessary suffering on nonhuman animals."
While my opponent accepts the first premise of my argument, he disagrees with the second premise. Namely, that factory farms inflict unnecessary suffering on nonhuman animals. Con claims that mother pigs kept in gestation crates don't actually suffer from being confined, because they don't know of any other way of living. However, if you were to take a pig on a free range farm and confine it in a gestation crate, it would indeed suffer. This is because it would be a change in the pig's habitual environment. In other words, the free range pig knows of a better life outside the cage. Much like a prison inmate knows of a better life outside his jail sail.
The idea that mother pigs don't suffer in gestation crates is absurd. Of course they suffer in these cages. However, Con says they don't because the pigs know of no better life outside their confined area. While this may be true, it doesn't justify treating them like this. Let me provide a thought experiment to show why Con's argument is unconvincing.
Imagine a small child named Emily who has been brought up in an abusive home. This little girl has been completely isolated from the rest of the world her whole life, and she has never been allowed to leave her house. On a daily basis her father sexually abuses her, hits her with a whip, abuses her emotionally, and pushes her down the stairs. This little girl knows of no better life whatsoever. She has never lived in any other way. Her whole life has been like this.
Now, under my opponent's line of reasoning, this little girl isn't actually suffering. This is because she knows of no better life outside her house. But surely this is absurd to believe. Just because the little girl knows of no better life, doesn't mean she doesn't suffer from her abusive father. In the same way, the mother pig still suffers from being confined in a small crate, even if she knows of no better life outside of it. We should therefore reject Con's completely insane argument for the moral permissibility of gestation crates.
Con also brings up the Wayne Bradley farm, which raises 12,000 pigs each year inside. He says that Peter Singer a well known animal liberation activist visited this farm to see how the pigs were treated. Bradley, the owner of this farm, says that his pigs spend much of their time sleeping and make little noise, where you might expect squealing were they distressed.
I'm not really sure how I'm supposed to interpret this. I could be wrong, but I think Bradley is trying to hint that because his pigs weren't squealing while Singer was there, it therefore shows that the pigs don't suffer in their crate. However, this is clearly untrue. It could be the case that when the pigs were first put in the crate they squealed and exhibited behaviors that represent stress and frustration. But after awhile of living like that, the pigs gave up hope of trying to free themselves, and now just accept their reality. Bradley also said that while it's true his pigs spend most of their lives in a cage, they are let out for several weeks between each litter. However, does this really justify confining them? I don't believe it does. Pigs are very social and curious animals, and so to confine them for most of their life is a serious injustice. As Edmond A. Pajor an Associate Professor ofAnimal Behavior and Welfare pointed out:
"In gestation stalls, sows are prevented from performing many of the behavior patterns that pigs would perform in more natural or less restricted conditions resulting in a negative impact on sow welfare." 
Out of all the farm animals who suffer on factory farms, Con only decides to attack my claim that mother pigs suffer on factory farms. While completely ignoring the suffering of beef and dairy cows, meat chickens and egg laying hens, turkeys, and baby piglets who don't grow quickly enough. Indeed, what about their suffering? Shouldn't that be addressed? Apparently Con doesn't think so, since he didn't even say anything about it. So even if we were to accept his ridiculous claim that mother pigs don't suffer in gestation crates, it would still be the case that factory farming all the other farm animals would be immoral, since they are forced to suffer and live miserable lives.
Con's claim that mother pigs don't suffer in gestation crates is false, and should therefore be rejected. Not only that, but Con's case against me is incomplete, and he hasn't even responded to the pain and suffering that is inflicted on all the other farm animals.
Your point taken over the plight of young persons like Emily who are abused by their parents, yet I suspect weak analogy to farm animals here. Emily has a special relationship with her father where she expects emotional nurturance, yet her father beats her every day, or at least frequently, a thing that didn’t happen to my porkers, who endure only a few procedures capable of inducing pain during the whole of their much shorter life. And despite the effort to isolate her, Emily is probably aware of the outside world—a knowledge very difficult to keep from a human child. One real case of a girl kept totally locked away has become famous: that of Genie. When Genie was rescued in 1970 at age 13, the psychological damage, and the interest of caretakers, centered almost entirely on language development issues. The published study was by linguists who found her speech acquisition permanently impaired, so that she was reduced to learning rudimentary signing.
Susan Curtiss et. al., 1975. An Update on the Linguistic Development of Genie. In Developmental Psycholinguistics: Theory and Applications, Daniel Dato, ed.
Needless to say, the Bradley Farm doesn’t have this problem with its pigs. As for your speculation about whether they showed distress when introduced into quarters, Singer doesn’t say—and we shouldn’t infer. Space limited my round 2 arguments, but I’ll touch on chickens below.
The welfare of people, aside that they can’t quickly be persuaded to switch en masse to vegan diets, depends on the efficiency of food production and delivery. As farming has improved, food costs have dropped. In 1970, an American household purchased 194 lbs. of meat and poultry annually at a cost of 4.2% of gross income. By 2005, consumption of 221 lbs. cost only 2.1% of income.
Carlton Gyles, 2010. Industrial farm animal production. Can. Vet J. 51(2), 125–128. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...
And these levels of human comfort probably influence the degree to which the general public thinks about animal welfare. Contented people show magnanimity to other beings. Let’s note that in the good old days when the term factory farm was not in the vocabulary, ethics did not even consider the viewpoint of the animal, beyond its physical integrity: “Before the emergence of industrial farm animal production systems, the ethic of animal husbandry held that good care of animals was wholly consistent with the interests of the farmer.” (ref. below, p. 31). Now it does.
Public concern has led to promulgation of ideals for care. None of these are legally binding on U.S. farms; however the public has become informed of them, which has resulted in reputational pressures on industry. Such standards include, for instance from the British government’s Farm Animal Welfare Council, a “Five Freedoms” listing undesirable conditions animals should not be subjected to: hunger or thirst, discomfort, pain or disease, fear, and restriction of normal behavior (p. 35). In response, the industry has begun to make changes: “Smithfield…announced recently that it would eliminate the use of gestation crates in its hog-rearing operations, and the United Egg Producers have published standards for the treatment of laying hens” (p. 31).
Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, 2008. Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America, pp.31, 35. http://www.ncifap.org...
The compromises aren’t always trouble-free, though: “In the case of laying hens, noncage systems have been advocated, so that the birds might live more according to their nature and thus avoid the frustration of close confinement in barren cages. However, cannibalism is common in noncage systems, perhaps because hens are not adapted to living in the large groups involved in noncage systems. These systems can also carry a greater risk of disease…”
C.J. Hewson, 2003. What is animal welfare? Common definitions and their practical consequences. Can Vet J. 44(6), 496-499. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...
Ethics does evolve with time, and what we allow as humane today may come under proscription tomorrow. Still, I believe steady progress is made and that treatment of animals is in main as decent as available resources and needs permits. My burden of proof is only to show that factory farming is moral in this sense, not that it is ideal. Now I will suggest that misguided labeling of factory farming as “immoral” may backfire, especially if it runs ahead of generally accepted thinking on what humane treatment of animals should entail. The farming practices themselves are unlikely to halt anytime soon, as they are driven by market demand. Improving the comfort and respect offered creatures of whom we ask life sacrifice is indeed a project we should incline toward—it was important to Native Americans who hunted game. This goal is best advanced by constructive dialog between the industries and the animal advocacy, not by what must amount to name calling.
Thanks Con. Now onto my final rebuttals and concluding remarks.
If you remember correctly, you will know that earlier my opponent claimed that mother pigs don't suffer from being confined in gestation crates, since they know of no better life outside their cage. However, I viewed his claim as absurd and provided a thought experiment to show why. In Con's response back to me he said that my thought experiment was weak, and had disanalogous factors. I will now quote some of the things he said in reply to my thought experiment and respond to them.
"Emily has a special relationship with her father where she expects emotional nurturance, yet her father beats her every day, or at least frequently, a thing that didn’t happen to my porkers, who endure only a few procedures capable of inducing pain during the whole of their much shorter life." -Con
This is irrelevant. The only thing I was trying to prove in my thought experiment was that a sentient being can still suffer even if they know of no better life of their own. The fact that Emily might have expected emotional nurturance from her father, or that pigs only endure a few procedures capable of inducing pain, is neither here nor there. I wasn't talking about those things. Again, I was only trying to show that you can suffer from a bad life, even if you know of no better one outside your own. It's not that complicated.
"And despite the effort to isolate her, Emily is probably aware of the outside world—a knowledge very difficult to keep from a human child." -Con
The fact that it might be difficult to hide the outside world from someone is again neither here nor there. It's a hypothetical situation. In my thought experiment Emily was not aware of the outside world. I didn't say she is probably aware of it or might be aware of it, I quite plainly said she is not. You don’t need to add unnecessary extra details to my thought experiment.
Con states that I shouldn't speculate about whether the pigs on Bradley's farm showed distress when introduced into their cage, since Singer doesn't say anything about that. However, I think it's quite fair to say that the pigs do stress out when they are first put into these crates. As I have stated earlier, many experts think gestation crates provide very poor animal welfare. At the University of Wageningen, in the Netherlands, G. Cronin obtained a Ph.D. for a study of the behavior of confined sows. Here is his description of how they behave when first put in a stall with a tether:
The sows threw themselves violently backwards, straining against the tether. Sows thrashed their heads about as they twisted and turned in their struggle to free themselves. Often loud screams were emitted and occasionally individuals crashed bodily against the side boards of the tether stalls. This is sometimes resulted in sows collapsing to the floor. 
The British Farm Animal Welfare Council is also a critic of these confinement systems:
Both stall and tether systems fail to meet certain welfare criteria to which we attach particular importance. As a result of their design the animals housed in them are prevented from exercising and from displaying most natural behavior patterns; in the wide range of systems seen by members there was little scope to reduce the continuing stress which can be caused by confinement in these systems…. We recommend... that the Government should introduce legislation as a matter of urgency to prevent all further installations of units of these designs. 
In this video you can see how these mother pigs are made to suffer by being in these cages I have been talking about:
Later on in his paper Con informs us that pork producers like Smithfield are eliminating the use of gestation crates on their farms, and that United Egg Producers have published standards for the treatment of laying hens. However, it’s still the case that most of pigs raised for meat are kept in gestation crates. Only three states in the U.S. make gestation crates illegal. Con also states that egg produces have published standards for the treatment for egg laying hens. However, it's unclear about what this "standard" is. How exactly are these hens being treated better? What are their living conditions like? Are the birds debeaked with a hot blade? Are they thrown into small cages when it's time to transport them to the slaughterhouse? What about the actual slaughter itself? All these questions remain unanswered, and the public is again left ignorant of how their food was produced.
In this debate I pointed out the many cruel practices that factory farms subject animals to, and then argued why such practices are immoral. However, Con only challenged my claim that gestation crates were immoral, and did not even try to defend and morally justify the other practices. For that reason, as I sated earlier, his case against me is incomplete. Lets take a quick run threw of all these practices that have yet to challenged by Con.
Cows raised for beef have pain inflicted on them by being castrated, dehorned, and branded with a hot iron. Like I stated earlier, this is done without painkillers. Con has not yet tried to morally justify this treatment.
Baby piglets who don't grow quickly enough are killed by being slammed head first onto the ground. Con has not yet tried to morally justify this treatment.
Debeaked and put into dirty sheds chickens live by the thousands. Some of these birds have heart attacks and collapse to the ground due to their massive weight. Once the birds hit market weight they are thrown into small cages and sent to the slaughterhouse where they are then killed in extremely pain ways. Con has not yet tried to morally justify this treatment.
These birds are handled violently and the females are forcefully held down by workers who artificial inseminate them. Con has not yet tried to morally justify this treatment.
These female cows are kept pregnant through artificial insemination. Once they give birth, their calf is taken away from them which causes stress and sadness both for the mother and her baby. Con has not yet tried to morally justify this treatment.
Once he is taken away from his mother, the male calf is tide up to a small box where he is unable to turn around and move freely. Con has not yet tried to morally justify this treatment.
Egg Laying Hens
At the hatchery male chicks who are of no use to the egg industry are killed in painful and cruel ways. The chicks that are female are debeaked and crammed into small cages for their whole life. Con has not yet tried to morally justify this treatment.
As we can see, much of these practices have not been responed to by Con. The only claim of mine he objected to was the fact that mother pigs suffer in gestation crates. That’s it. Moreover, his claim that they don’t suffer in those crates is false. So even then he fails.
My BOP of this debate was to demonstrate that factory farming animals is immoral. I explained the practices and treatment that these animals have to go through, and then I put forth an ethical argument against treating animals like that. My argument against this kind of farming was sound, and I defended each premise of it successfully. The job of my opponent was to demonstrate that the treatment of these animals is not immoral, and that my ethical argument against this type of farming is bad. However, his arguments against me were unsuccessful, and he failed to debunk my ethical argument. Not only that, but he failed to defend and morally justify most of the practices that factory farms use to produce food. His case against me is bad on many levels. We therefore ought to reject his arguments, and accept that I fulfilled my BOB that factory farming animals is immoral.
Animal Liberation by Peter Singer: pp. 127-128.
Dookieman is undoubtedly a sincere exponent for good relations between humankind and the world of animal life we are embedded in. The human being was first, in our planet's long history of creating new species, to seek conscious control of animals through domestication, and the first to consider the ethical consequences of doing so. That my opponent recoils in horror when confronted with the frank realities involved should be admired. Yet throughout this debate, my opponent has strayed from the path of reason as well as from acknowledging limitations on the scope of debate that the DDO format imposes.
His rebuttal and summary appeals to pathos: we're reminded again of an abused human child I've already shown is weak analogy to a farm animal, and ability to feel pain is conflated with desires for freedom I've shown the animals cannot harbor without having experienced freedom. He tells us that animals are sentient, without defining this term or attempting to prove this assertion, in an effort to convince us that farm animals are essentially human beings in furry guise. I never claimed that habituation means inability to sense pain when injured. Nor have I said it creates "good mood." My opponent assumes I have done so, however, asking us to watch YouTube footage of suffering pigs for good measure.
Then comes the roster of the animals, as if we'll see a revolt akin to George Orwell's Animal Farm, in a cycle of accusations unsupported by references, expecting me to undertake a tedious, point by point refutation which DDO simply doesn't allow for. Perhaps all my opponent's statements are true, yet it's much easier to make unsupported claims than it is to rebut them, and I am not obligated to respond to every one of his individual cases.
In farming, the counterintuitive often holds true. My round 2 showed that the leading cause of stress in pigs is not what the farmer does to them, but a genetic disorder, Porcine Stress Syndrome. While Greg Cronin, a researcher my opponent does cite, was wrestling with screaming sows, he was also doing an experiment in Australia which demonstrated lower survival for piglets and their mothers in an open nesting condition with straw . The YouTube video, by the Humane Society, becomes part of my opponent's arguments by extension. Yet if its allegations of lack of individual veterinary care, also not given citation support, really hold, then why are vaccinations and heat lamp treatments for newborn piglets found in a leading national handbook for farm animal veterinarians? 
It looks like my opponent is taking the Rawlsian position of initial ignorance and asking us if we would be willing to roll a die that determined whether we were born as pig or human. My contention is that this comparison is wrong. No human would prefer a farm sow's life. But we should compare domestic pig to wild pig instead: In the wild, sows become objects of predation by lions and suffer untreated diseases, situations they don't face on the farm. Food is often scarce in the wild. It's hard to find a place on earth where animals don't suffer.
Except perhaps a pig kept as a household pet. My opponent's impossible position on factory farming simply doesn't reflect the variables operating in the real world. The radical economic changes required for implementing an animal liberation agenda are unlikely. I have already generously conceded that farming practice should improve and that new laws should pass from time to time. Yet what is moral must always be what is realistic; the morality of an ideal and fictitious world can never be imposed. Therefore, my opponent's arguments should be rejected in favor of a conclusion that factory farming lies beneath the ethical umbrellas of the society we currently live in.
 Cronin, G. The effects of farrowing nest size and width on sow and piglet behaviour and piglet survival. Appl. Animal Behavior Sci. 60, 331-345. pdf summary and preview, http://www.animalwelfare.net.au...
 Barbara Straw, Jeff Zimmerman et. al., Diseases of Swine, 9th ed., 2006, Wiley-Blackwell, p. 1006.
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