This article explores the cultural and philosophical foundations of factory farming. Modes of capitalist production play a role: Marx’s analysis of the fourfold alienation of labor can be applied to animal-laborers. However, the harshness with which animals are treated exceeds the harshness directed toward human workers. At root is a cultural anthropocentrism that prohibits viewing animals as moral subjects, removing ethical restraints. Ultimately, the modernist ways in which animals are treated as both like and unlike human workers are related to the rise of Cartesian mechanism. The categories of “human” and “animal” are reconfigured by the image of the “machine.”

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