Rationalizing the Many Uses of Animals: Application of the 4N Justifications Beyond Meat

Jared Piazza, Lucy Cooper, and Shannon Slater-Johnson

Lancaster University, Department of Psychology

Past research has uncovered four common justifications for using animals as food—the 4Ns—that eating meat is Natural, Normal, Necessary, and Nice. The current research investigated the extent to which the 4Ns might apply more generally to other animal uses. Two studies examined the moral justifications people spontaneously offered for various animal uses, including household products, clothing, culling, and horse racing (Study1), and in zoos, TV/film, as pets, and for medical testing (Study 2). Participants offered reasons for why it is okay to use animals and the responses were coded by independent raters. The 4N categories accounted for the majority of justifications across most uses. There was great variability in justification categories offered for each use, and some uses generated justification categories not covered within the 4N scheme, including humane treatment, prioritization of human lives, and sustainability arguments. This research provides a large-scope investigation of animal-use justifications that moves beyond meat consumption.

Keywords: animal use; rationalization; moral justification; 4Ns; humane treatment