Between Individualistic Animal Ethics and Holistic Environmental Ethics Blurring the Boundaries

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Due to its emphasis on experiential interests, animal ethics tends to focus on individuals as the sole unit of moral concern. Many issues in animal ethics can be fruitfully analysed in terms of obligations towards individual animals, but some problems require reflection about collective dimensions of animal life in ways that individualist approaches can’t offer. Criticism of the individualist focus in animal ethics is not new; it has been put forward in particular by environmental ethics approaches. However, the latter tend to be so far removed from the concerns of animal ethicists that both groups talk at cross purposes. We think the gap between environmental and animal ethics could be bridged by on the one hand focusing more on the collective dimensions of our concerns with animals - after all, individuals are constituted by the collective of which they are a part - and on the other hand, by showing that moral status can also be attributed to groups in an indirect way, related to the moral status of their individual members. In our paper we explore various (novel) ways of conceptualising the moral relevance of collectiveness in animal life. We draw on insights from public health ethics, as this field of inquiry has also developed - at least partly—in response to individualist approaches in human bioethics, creating more room for recognizing the value of population health, interpersonal relations, solidarity, and ways in which a collective is constituted
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnimal Ethics in the Age of Humans
Subtitle of host publicationBlurring Boundaries in Human-animal Relationships
EditorsB. Bovenkerk, F.W.J. Keulartz
ISBN (Electronic)9783319442068
ISBN (Print)9783319442051
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameThe International Library of Environmental, Agricultural and Food Ethics
ISSN (Print)1570-3010
ISSN (Electronic)2215-1737

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