Anonymous: To what extent might lack of knowledge be an excuse for unethical conduct?
To what extent does the possession of knowledge carry a moral obligation of sharing it?
I think these are really good questions anon.
WIth regards to your second question, I believe that it is not necessarily the knowledge that somebody has that brings up an issue of morals, but what they do with it. For example, if somebody becomes aware of something that will save lives, help the environment, etc, then I believe they do have an ethical responsibility to share this knowledge. I’m not sure if this is the spin you wanted on your questions, but this is a blog about veganism and animal rights, so I’ll try to apply it to that.
For example, your first question: a lack of knowledge can be seen as an excuse for unethical conduct - in the way that all of us, each one of us, grew up as decent people but who may do problematic things - either holding problematic views and beliefs, or doing problematic things, or I guess if we’re strictly talking from an animal rights view, one example could be that almost every vegan first grew up and got used to eating meat/wearing leather/ going to the zoo. Before we gained knowledge about how harmful these practices actually are, or in some cases weren’t aware in the slightest that these things were harmful, we carried on doing them. So I’d say, for many things that are ingrained into society, such as the activities I mentioned above, a lack of knowledge, our ignorance, really sucked. Did it make us unethical, bad people? I don’t believe so. I believe that partaking in the activities is obviously wrong, but I believe that using new-found knowledge, such as researching by ourselves or learning from others that such industries/practices are harmful, in order to change for the better - well I see that as a result. However if after knowing the truth we did not change… yes, that is unethical.
I feel that anyone who knows about these industries, has the moral obligation to do something about it. Even if, for example, someone can’t go vegan, then I believe that they still have the obligation to do other actions, such as reducing their harm in the non-food industries.
I hope this was the sort of answer you were looking for, anyway. That’s my take on these questions.