Animal Welfare and Animal Rights Based on Kernohan,
Animal Welfare and Animal Rights Based on Kernohan, A. (2012). Environmental ethics: An interactive introduction. Buffalo, NY: Broadview Press, Chapters 11 & 12. Prepared by D. G. Ross, Auburn University. Images copyright D. G. Ross, unless otherwise noted. How does our understanding of the moral status of animals affect our perceptions of global environmental policies? How does it change the way weve been conceptualizing ethics? Virtue of? Obligation to? Consequences of?
Virtue of? Obligation to? D. G. Ross, Auburn University Consequences of? Features Required for Moral Standing by Ethical Theory (Adapted from Kernohan (2012, p. 141) Type of Ethical Theory Feature required for moral standing Ethical egoism Self
Hedonistic utilitarianism Preference-satisfaction utilitarianism Psychological experiences and sensations Wants and desires Teleological consequentialism Natural purposes, mode of flourishing Common good consequentialism Organized community Will theory of rights
Autonomy Subjective interest rights Capacity for psychological benefit Objective interest rights Capacity for non-psychological benefit D. G. Ross, Auburn University Sentience is generally defined as the an ability to feel sensations, which differs from reasoning (the ability to think). Is sentience enough to offer moral standing, or is moral agency (the ability to reason, to reflect on moral principles, the capacity to understand anothers
interests, etc.) required? Is there a morally relevant distinction between humans and non-human animals? ? D. G. Ross, Auburn University Speciesism: The denial of ethical/moral standing based on species. If I give a horse a hard slap across its rump with my open hand, the horse may start, but it presumably feels little pain. Its skin is thick enough to protect it against a mere slap. If I slap a baby in the same way, however, the baby will cry and presumably feel pain, for its skin is more sensitive. So it is worse to slap a baby than a horse, if both slaps are administered with equal force. But there must be some kind of blowI dont know exactly what it would be, but perhaps a blow with a heavy stickthat would cause the horse as much pain as we cause a baby by slapping it with our hand.
That is what I mean by the same amount of pain, and if we consider it wrong to inflict that much pain on a baby for no good reason then we must, unless we are speciesists, consider it equally wrong to inflict the same amount of pain on a horse for no good reason. Peter Singer Singer, P. (2009). Animal liberation. New York: NY, Harper Perennial. D. G. Ross, Auburn University Kernohan (2012) writes: A biocentric view [of ethics] extends moral standing to all living beings, not just humans and animals. It implies that we may need to trade off the interests of animals with the interests of plants. For example, we may have to cull elephants to protect their habitat from over-grazing, or we may need to shoot a porcupine to protect a majestic tree from the porcupine eating all its bark. An ecocentric view of moral standing extends moral standing to ecosystems. It implies that we may need to subordinate the interests of individual animals to the health of the ecosystem. For example, we may need to shoot white-tailed deer in order to save the forest
ecosystem to which they belong, or introduce a disease to rabbits in order to save D. G. Ross, Auburn University native Australian ecosystems (p. 147). If we accept that (some?) animals should be granted moral standing, do we then move to the conclusion that (some?) animals have rights? Kant argues that animals cannot have rights because humans cannot owe them direct duties, only indirect duties. Thus, while cruelty to animals is a vice, not a virtue (and therefor unethical), the question of rights is off the table. Thoughts? Are animals, as Regan claims, experiencing subjects of life (Kernohan 2012, p. 154)? Do they, as he argues, have a subjective interest in continuing to live? D. G. Ross, Auburn University
Kernohan points out that even the most rigid of vegans must cause environmental/animal/vegetable damage in order to survive (p. 157). How to we work this out ethically? Justice requires that we treat beings as moral equals, not treat them equally. Interspecies justice extends this concept to animals. Must we also consider animal interests? I am interested in living. D. G. Ross, Auburn University
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