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Animals 2019, 9(2), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9020052

The Ethics of Human–Animal Relationships and Public Discourse: A Case Study of Lions Bred for Their Bones

1
Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Recanati-Kaplan Centre, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Tubney OX13 5QL, UK
2
School of Animal, Plant & Environmental Science, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg 2000, South Africa
3
School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK
4
School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Forestry and Wood Products Building, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931-1295, USA
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 17 January 2019 / Revised: 1 February 2019 / Accepted: 5 February 2019 / Published: 8 February 2019
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Simple Summary

In South Africa, lions are farmed, and a product of that farming is lion skeletons that form part of an international trade to supply traditional medicine markets in Southeast Asia with felid bones. As a matter of public policy, the practice is a complicated nexus of concerns for entrepreneurial freedom, wildlife conservation, and the fair treatment of animals. We used this case to demonstrate how public discourse about ethically-charged policies can be aided by a technique from the academic field of applied ethics, i.e., formal argument analysis. We showed how the technique can be integrated into existing frameworks for public decision-making. To further facilitate the application of this technique to other cases, we also offered ten general lessons for formal analysis of ethical arguments.

Abstract

Conservation and natural resource management are increasingly attending the ethical elements of public decisions. Ethical considerations are challenging, in part, because they typically require accounting for the moral consideration of various human and nonhuman forms of life, whose interests sometimes conflict (or seem to conflict). A valuable tool for such evaluations is the formal analysis of ethical arguments. An ethical argument is a collection of premises, logically interrelated, to yield a conclusion that can be expressed in the form, “We ought to…” According to the rules of logic, a conclusion is supported by an argument if all its premises are true or appropriate and when it contains no mistaken inferences. We showed how the formal analysis of ethical arguments can be used to engage stakeholders and decision-makers in decision-making processes. We summarised the method with ten specific guidelines that would be applicable to any case. We illustrated the technique using a case study focused on captive-bred lions, the skeletons of which form part of an international trade to supply traditional medicine markets in Southeast Asia with felid bones. As a matter of public policy, the practice is a complicated nexus of concerns for entrepreneurial freedom, wildlife conservation, and the fair treatment of animals. View Full-Text
Keywords: Panthera leo; traditional medicine; cultural value; intrinsic value; conservation ethics; wildlife trade; captive lion hunting; captive lion breeding Panthera leo; traditional medicine; cultural value; intrinsic value; conservation ethics; wildlife trade; captive lion hunting; captive lion breeding
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Coals, P.; Burnham, D.; Loveridge, A.; Macdonald, D.W.; Sas-Rolfes, M.; Williams, V.L.; Vucetich, J.A. The Ethics of Human–Animal Relationships and Public Discourse: A Case Study of Lions Bred for Their Bones. Animals 2019, 9, 52.

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