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Attfield, Robin, Rebekah Humphreys. Justice and Non-Human Animals – Part I
2017, Bangladesh Journal of Bioethics 7:(3): 1-11.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Rebekah Humphreys

Abstract: It is widely held that moral obligations to non-human beings do not involve considerations of justice. For such a view, nonhuman interests are always prone to be trumped by human interests. Rawlsian contractarianism comprises an example of such a view. Through analysis of such theories, this essay highlights the problem of reconciling the claim that humans have obligations to non-humans with the claim that our treatment of the latter is not a matter of justice. We argue that if it is granted that the basic interests of non-human beings sometimes count for more than the peripheral interests of humans, then our understandings of obligation and of justice must be aligned, so that what we say about obligation is not countered by assumptions about the invariable priority of humans in matters of justice. We further consider whether such a conclusion can be endorsed by those who adopt certain alternative theories to contractarianism. We conclude that adherents of a range of theories including sentientism and biocentrism must accept that human interests can sometimes be superseded by animal interests, and that this applies not least in matters of justice.

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Attfield, Robin, Rebekah Humphreys. Justice and Non-Human Animals – Part II
2017, Bangladesh Journal of Bioethics 8(1): 44-57.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Rebekah Humphreys

Abstract: It is widely held that moral obligations to non-human beings do not involve considerations of justice. For such a view, nonhuman interests are always prone to be trumped by human interests. Rawlsian contractarianism comprises an example of such a view. Through analysis of such theories, this essay highlights the problem of reconciling the claim that humans have obligations to non-humans with the claim that our treatment of the latter is not a matter of justice. We argue that if it is granted that the basic interests of non-human beings sometimes count for more than the peripheral interests of humans, then our understandings of obligation and of justice must be aligned, so that what we say about obligation is not countered by assumptions about the invariable priority of humans in matters of justice. We further consider whether such a conclusion can be endorsed by those who adopt certain alternative theories to contractarianism. We conclude that adherents of a range of theories including sentientism and biocentrism must accept that human interests can sometimes be superseded by animal interests, and that this applies not least in matters of justice.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Figdor, Carrie. The Psychological Speciesism of Humanism
2020, Philosophical Studies 178: 1545–1569
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Carrie Figdor
Abstract: Humanists argue for assigning the highest moral status to all humans over any non-humans directly or indirectly on the basis of uniquely superior human cognitive abilities. They may also claim that humanism is the strongest position from which to combat racism, sexism, and other forms of within-species discrimination. I argue that changing conceptual foundations in comparative research and discoveries of advanced cognition in many non-human species reveal humanism’s psychological speciesism and its similarity with common justifications of within-species discrimination.

Comment: This paper argues against the idea that human cognitive capacities justify higher moral status for humans over nonhuman animals. It also argues that this justification for human moral superiority is structurally the same as a common justification for the superiority (moral and otherwise) of some human groups over others (such as in sexism or racism).

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Galgut, Elisa. A Critique of the Cultural Defense of Animal Cruelty
2019, Journal of Animal Ethics 9 (2):184
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Anonymous
Abstract: I argue that cultural practices that harm animals are not morally defensible: Tradition cannot justify cruelty. My conclusion applies to all such practices, including ones that are long-standing, firmly entrenched, or held sacred by their practitioners. Following Mary Midgley, I argue that cultural practices are open to moral scrutiny, even from outsiders. Because animals have moral status, they may not be harmed without good reason. I argue that the importance of religious or cultural rituals to adherents does not count as a sufficiently good reason to harm or kill animals, since rituals are inherently symbolic, and cultures are able to adapt and change, making adherence to cruel traditions unnecessary.

Comment: This paper can be used in a class on animal ethics / rights. It argues that rituals involving harm or cruelty to animals are not justifiable. The paper can be used in a discussion on animal rights issues and multi-culturalism.

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Galgut, Elisa. Raising the Bar in the Justification of Animal Research
2015, Journal of Animal Ethics 5 (1):5-19
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Anonymous
Abstract: Animal ethics committees (AECs) appeal to utilitarian principles in their justification of animal experiments. Although AECs do not grant rights to animals, they do accept that animals have moral standing and should not be unnecessarily harmed. Although many appeal to utilitarian arguments in the justification of animal experiments, I argue that AECs routinely fall short of the requirements needed for such justification in a variety of ways. I argue that taking the moral status of animals seriously—even if this falls short of granting rights to animals—should lead to a thorough revision or complete elimination of many of the current practices in animal experimentation.

Comment: This paper can be used in a course on animal research ethics.

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Humphreys, Rebekah. Games, Fair-Play and a Sporting-Chance: A Conceptual Analysis of Blood-Sports
2020, Yearbook of the Irish Philosophical Society, 2017/18: Special Edition: Humans and Other Animals, 96-114
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Rebekah Humphreys

Abstract: The killing of Cecil the lion in 2015 by a trophy hunter sparked a global debate regarding the killing of lions for ‘sport’. While many were outraged by Cecil’s killing, Cecil was just one of the millions of animals that have been used in the sports-shooting industry. Cecil’s killing brings with it the question of whether so-called ‘blood sports’ (whether these involve killing big game or smaller animals) are actually ‘sports’ at all, in the ordinary sense. As such, this paper aims to provide an analysis of blood-sport as a concept. The objective will be to examine whether blood-sports are games and to analyse to what extent, if any, blood-sports can be called ‘sports’ properly. Such an analysis will be presented through employing a generalised notion of sport and through a discussion of fair-play. Pace S. P. Morris (2014) who argues that hunting which incorporates a fair-chase code is a game and a sport, this current paper concludes that it is doubtful that blood-sport is a game, and that even if one assumes that it is a game, it cannot be classed as sport, and further that any fair-chase code undermines itself in the context of so-called ‘blood-sports’.

Comment: Basis for a good debate on issues surrounding the ethics of bloodsport and 'bloodsport' as a concept. Is' bloodsport' actually 'sport', for example, in the ordinary sense of the term?

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Humphreys, Rebekah. Philosophy, ecology and elephant equality
2020, Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling, 28 (11), 2020, 1-4
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Rebekah Humphreys

Abstract: The considerable conservation research on environmental problems and climate change tends to focus on species “biodiversity” rather than individuals. Individuals of the same species get categorized as “wild” or “captive”, with the latter often omitted from conservationists’ concerns. But wild and captive animals, although they may require different treatment, have comparable interests as individuals. Equity requires taking this into account in conservation efforts.

Comment: Good for teaching issues concerning animal sentience, equality, conservation, preservation (particularly in relation to elephants), and environmental ethics and animal ethics issues more generally.

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Humphreys, Rebekah. Rights, Interests and Moral Standing: A Critical Examination of Dialogue between Regan and Frey
2011, Issues in Ethics and Animal Rights, Manish Vyas (ed.), Regency Publications
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Rebekah Humphreys

Abstract: This paper aims to assess R. G. Frey’s analysis of Leonard Nelson’s argument (that links interests to rights). Frey argues that claims that animals have rights or interests have not been established. Frey’s contentions that animals have not been shown to have rights nor interests will be discussed in turn, but the main focus will be on Frey’s claim that animals have not been shown to have interests. One way Frey analyses this latter claim is by considering H. J. McCloskey’s denial of the claim and Tom Regan’s criticism of this denial. While Frey’s position on animal interests does not depend on McCloskey’s views, he believes that a consideration of McCloskey’s views will reveal that Nelson’s argument (linking interests to rights) has not been established as sound. My discussion (of Frey’s scrutiny of Nelson’s argument) will centre on the dialogue between Regan and Frey in respect of McCloskey’s argument. I will endeavor to update the dialogue by providing a re-interpretation of ‘rights’ in Nelson’s argument.

Comment: Discusses key arguments in debates in animal ethics through the dialogue of Regan and Frey.

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Palmer, Clare. Killing Animals in Animal Shelters
2006, In: Killing Animals, edited by The Animal Studies Group. Champaign: Illinois University Press.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord
Summary: In this article, Palmer provides a clear survey of positions on killing domestic animals (cats and dogs) in animal shelters. She argues that there are three ways of understanding the killing that occurs in animal shelters: consequentialism, rights based, and relation based. She considers the relationship of humans and domesticated animals that leads to their killing in animal shelters as well as providing an ethical assessment of the practice.

Comment: This text is a clear introduction to the ethical issues involved in keeping 'pets' or 'companion animals.' It would serve as a clear introduction to the problem of 'painless killing' in a course on ethics of killing, environmental ethics, or animal ethics.

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Taylor, Sunaura. Beasts of Burden: Animal and Disability Liberation
2017, The New Press.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner
Publisher’s Note: How much of what we understand of ourselves as “human” depends on our physical and mental abilities—how we move (or cannot move) in and interact with the world? And how much of our definition of “human” depends on its difference from “animal”? Drawing on her own experiences as a disabled person, a disability activist, and an animal advocate, author Sunaura Taylor persuades us to think deeply, and sometimes uncomfortably, about what divides the human from the animal, the disabled from the nondisabled—and what it might mean to break down those divisions, to claim the animal and the vulnerable in ourselves, in a process she calls “cripping animal ethics.” Beasts of Burden suggests that issues of disability and animal justice—which have heretofore primarily been presented in opposition—are in fact deeply entangled. Fusing philosophy, memoir, science, and the radical truths these disciplines can bring—whether about factory farming, disability oppression, or our assumptions of human superiority over animals—Taylor draws attention to new worlds of experience and empathy that can open up important avenues of solidarity across species and ability. Beasts of Burden is a wonderfully engaging and elegantly written work, both philosophical and personal, by a brilliant new voice.

Comment: In this excerpt from her book, Beasts of Burden, Taylor resists the way that animals and intellectual disabled people are often framed in terms of one another. She argues that this does a disservice to both groups. Animals are not voiceless, as they are often constructed. And their comparison to disabled people in the (in)famous argument from marginal cases should not be accepted. Perhaps most importantly, the argument opens for discussion the worth of disabled people’s lives. But this is not something that should be open for discussion, especially given the marginalization of disabled people.

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Warren, Mary Anne. Moral status: obligations to persons and other living things
1997, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Simon Fokt
Publisher’s Note: Publisher's description: Mary Anne Warren investigates a theoretical question that is at the centre of practical and professional ethics: what are the criteria for having moral status? That is: what does it take to be an entity towards which people have moral considerations? Warren argues that no single property will do as a sole criterion, and puts forward seven basic principles which establish moral status. She then applies these principles to three controversial moral issues: voluntary euthanasia, abortion, and the status of non-human animals.

Comment: Particular chapters are useful in teaching on the applied ethics of abortion, euthanasia and obligations towards non-human animals.

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