My Independent Study thesis is an exploration of the arguments given supporting veganism in the United States and in Germany. As this is a philosophy and a German studies project, I will be looking at this question through the lenses of both philosophy and cultural analysis. The first chapter, ‘Philosophical History and Cultural Perspective,’ delves separately into the philosophical and cultural histories that both nations have developed with veganism. Germany is associated with Kant, Schopenhauer’s morality of compassion, and with a sense of the value of the whole over the individual. The United States has been more influenced by Bentham’s utilitarianism and Locke’s individualism, with a more current inclination towards talk of moral rights and desert in the past forty years. This chapter also includes a survey of the current state of affairs for animal rights advocates in both nations, as well as what it is like to be a vegan living in both places.

The second and third chapters take a closer look at the philosophical arguments that are supposedly being made and assesses them for correctness and commensurability with other parts of the theory. Carruthers, Singer, Regan, Wolf and the Ecofeminist gang are all under scrutiny, as well as Schopenhauer and his take on Buddhism.

The fourth chapter takes the distance between the second and third chapters as its focus, especially which presuppositions are informing all of the theories, making them either attractive or repulsive based on subconscious beliefs we do not even know that we are holding on to. I then try to take an unbiased look at the world as it pertains to animal agriculture and try to identify if any of the presented theories fits in nicely with the facts as they are.

The last chapter focuses on issues of commensurability involved in this project, and what it means to do comparative philosophy at all. I end with a discussion of the idea that ice picked my brain open and was the motivating ‘why’ of this project for me.


Schiltz, Elizabeth


German Studies; Philosophy


Arts and Humanities

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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