Special Issue "Animal Ethics: Questioning the Orthodoxy"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Ethics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Herwig Grimm
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Messerli Research Institute, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Veterinärplatz 1, A-1210 Vienna, Austria
Interests: Applied animal ethics; Ethics of farm animal welfare; Veterinary ethics; Pragmatism in applied ethics; Orientation towards practice in ethics; Methods of problem-oriented and applied moral philosophy
Dr. Susana Monsó
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Messerli Research Institute, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Veterinärplatz 1, A-1210 Vienna, Austria
Interests: Animal morality; Animal cognition; Moral psychology; Animal ethics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

It has become commonplace to refer to the success of animal ethics and the animal turn in philosophy. Since Singer and Regan published their ground-breaking works more than forty years ago, animal ethics has become an institutionalised field of research. This is mirrored in the appearance of entire journals, book series, text books, BA, MA and PhD programmes, conferences, research institutes, etc. devoted to it. To use a metaphor, animal ethics is no longer a toddler, but a teenager, full of energy, beginning to question its heritage and its future. This Special Issue aims to channel this rebellious spirit in order to help lay down the foundations for a prosperous adulthood. Therefore, we invite submissions that call into question the orthodoxy in animal ethics.

In particular, we aim to collect a series of papers that question:

  • Classical premises: papers that address key terms and claims that were previously taken for granted, such as speciesism, the dichotomy moral agents/patients, the inherent disvalue of animal pain and suffering, the is/ought gap, etc.
  • Classical theories and methodologies: papers that bring innovations into animal ethics by applying methodologies that until recently were often neglected, such as phenomenology, pragmatism, feminism, interdisciplinary and empirically-informed approaches, etc.
  • Classical topics: papers that pick up topics that were ignored or undertreated in the canonical texts, such as human interventions in nature, the predator–prey problem, companion animals, cognitive enhancement and disenhancement of animals, representation of animals, duties towards invertebrates, meaning in the lives of animals, etc.

We welcome submissions addressing these and further relevant topics. With this Special Issue, we aim to deliver an overview of new solutions to canonical problems and new problems that were previously unseen. We expect to map out new directions in the field of animal ethics and contribute to clarifying the self-understanding of the discipline.

Please kindly note that for submissions to this special issue there is a word limit of 8,000 words (references not included).

Prof. Herwig Grimm
Dr. Susana Monsó
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Animals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • animal ethics
  • human–animal studies
  • animal welfare
  • animal rights
  • human–animal interactions
  • animal minds
  • ethical theory
  • applied ethics
  • moral status
  • applied philosophy

Published Papers (9 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessArticle
If Veganism Is Not a Choice: The Moral Psychology of Possibilities in Animal Ethics
Animals 2020, 10(1), 145; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10010145 - 16 Jan 2020
Abstract
In their daily practices, many ethical vegans choose what to eat, wear, and buy among a range that is limited to the exclusion of animal products. Rather than considering and then rejecting the idea of using such products, doing so often does not [...] Read more.
In their daily practices, many ethical vegans choose what to eat, wear, and buy among a range that is limited to the exclusion of animal products. Rather than considering and then rejecting the idea of using such products, doing so often does not occur to them as a possibility at all. In other cases, when confronted with the possibility of consuming animal products, vegans have claimed to reject it by saying that it would be impossible for them to do so. I refer to this phenomenon as ‘moral impossibility’. An analysis of moral impossibility in animal ethics shows that it arises when one’s conception of ‘what animals are’ shifts—say through encounter with other animals. It also arises when individuals learn more about animals and what happens to them in production facilities. This establishes a link between increased knowledge, understanding, and imaginative exploration on the one hand, and the exclusion of the possibility of using animals as resources on the other. Taking moral impossibility in veganism seriously has two important consequences: one is that the debate around veganism needs to shift from choice and decision, to a prior analysis of concepts and moral framing; the other is that moral psychology is no longer seen as empirical psychology plus ethical analysis, but the contents of psychological findings are understood as being influenced and framed by moral reflection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Ethics: Questioning the Orthodoxy)
Open AccessArticle
From Mice to Monkeys? Beyond Orthodox Approaches to the Ethics of Animal Model Choice
Animals 2020, 10(1), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10010077 - 01 Jan 2020
Abstract
Recent developments in genome editing tools, along with limits in the translational potential of rodent models of human disease, have spurred renewed biomedical research interest in large mammals like nonhuman primates, pigs, and dogs. Such scientific developments raise ethical issues about the use [...] Read more.
Recent developments in genome editing tools, along with limits in the translational potential of rodent models of human disease, have spurred renewed biomedical research interest in large mammals like nonhuman primates, pigs, and dogs. Such scientific developments raise ethical issues about the use of these animals in comparison with smaller mammals, such as mice and rats. To examine these ethical questions, we first consider standard (or “orthodox”) approaches, including ethics oversight within biomedical research communities, and critical theoretical reflections on animal research, including rights-based and utilitarian approaches. We argue that oversight of biomedical research offers guidance on the profession’s permitted uses of animals within a research setting and orthodox approaches to animal ethics questions when and whether animals should be used in biomedicine; however, neither approach sufficiently investigates the nuances of ethical practices within the research setting. To fill this lacuna, we consider a virtue ethical approach to the use of specific animal models in biomedicine. From this perspective, we argued that limitations on flourishing for large mammals in a research setting, as well as potential human-animal bonds, are two sources of likely ethical tensions in animal care and use in the context of larger mammals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Ethics: Questioning the Orthodoxy)
Open AccessArticle
The Meat Paradox, Omnivore’s Akrasia, and Animal Ethics
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1125; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121125 - 12 Dec 2019
Abstract
Western cultures have witnessed an intriguing phenomenon in recent years: People are both more concerned for animal wellbeing and consume more animal products than ever before. This contradiction has been explored in psychology under the term “meat paradox”. However, what has been omitted [...] Read more.
Western cultures have witnessed an intriguing phenomenon in recent years: People are both more concerned for animal wellbeing and consume more animal products than ever before. This contradiction has been explored in psychology under the term “meat paradox”. However, what has been omitted from the explorations is the age-old philosophical notion of “akrasia”, within which one both knows “the good” and acts against it. The paper seeks to address this omission by comparing psychological research on the meat paradox with philosophy of akrasia. Applying Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, and Spinoza, I investigate the underlying factors of and solutions to what is here called “omnivore’s akrasia”. Whilst contemporary research on the meat paradox focuses on various descriptive cognitive errors (such as cognitive dissonance), philosophy of akrasia has tended to focus more prescriptively on moral reason and virtue. After discussing “nudging” as an implication of the descriptive approach, the paper supports the prescriptive perspective and “the cultivation argument”. The claim is that contemporary research on the contradictions concerning attitudes toward other animals would greatly benefit from paying more attention to the value-laden mental factors underlying moral agency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Ethics: Questioning the Orthodoxy)
Open AccessArticle
A Christian Case for Farmed Animal Welfare
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1116; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121116 - 11 Dec 2019
Abstract
It is now common to blame Christianity for broader society’s general inattention to the needs and comfort of animals in general, and farmed animals in particular. This critique of Christianity claims that certain biblical themes and particular biblical passages form the foundation for [...] Read more.
It is now common to blame Christianity for broader society’s general inattention to the needs and comfort of animals in general, and farmed animals in particular. This critique of Christianity claims that certain biblical themes and particular biblical passages form the foundation for an anti-animal position that Christianity has imposed on Christians and on wider Western society. This article concedes that Christianity has often been used to justify exploitation of animals, but argues that it is a mistake to consider Christianity inevitably opposed to concern for animals. After reviewing the views of critics such as Lynn White Jr., Peter Singer, and Tom Regan, the article demonstrates the complexity of interpreting biblical passages and the possibility of readings that affirm the importance of treating animals well. It shows that Christians have indeed been advocates for animals, notably in relation to the first legislation against animal cruelty in the early nineteenth century and the formation of the RSPCA. Finally, it proposes a constructive framework for a Christian ethics of farmed animal welfare that could provide the basis for Christian action to reduce consumption of animals and shift to higher welfare sources of animal products. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Ethics: Questioning the Orthodoxy)
Open AccessArticle
An Alternative to the Orthodoxy in Animal Ethics? Limits and Merits of the Wittgensteinian Critique of Moral Individualism
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1057; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121057 - 01 Dec 2019
Abstract
In this paper, we analyse the Wittgensteinian critique of the orthodoxy in animal ethics that has been championed by Cora Diamond and Alice Crary. While Crary frames it as a critique of “moral individualism”, we show that their criticism applies most prominently to [...] Read more.
In this paper, we analyse the Wittgensteinian critique of the orthodoxy in animal ethics that has been championed by Cora Diamond and Alice Crary. While Crary frames it as a critique of “moral individualism”, we show that their criticism applies most prominently to certain forms of moral individualism (namely, those that follow hedonistic or preference-satisfaction axiologies), and not to moral individualism in itself. Indeed, there is a concrete sense in which the moral individualistic stance cannot be escaped, and we believe that it is this particular limitation that justified Crary’s later move to a qualified version of moral individualism. At the same time, we also argue that there are significant merits to the Wittgensteinian critique of moral individualism, which pertain to its attack on the rationalism, naturalism, and reductionism that characterise orthodox approaches to animal ethics. We show that there is much of value in the Wittgensteinians’ call for an ethics that is more human; an ethics that fully embraces the capacities we are endowed with and one that pays heed to the richness and complexity of our moral lives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Ethics: Questioning the Orthodoxy)
Open AccessArticle
The Speciesism Debate: Intuition, Method, and Empirical Advances
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1054; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121054 - 01 Dec 2019
Abstract
This article identifies empirical, conceptual and normative avenues to advance the speciesism debate. First, I highlight the application of Evolutionary Debunking Arguments (EDAs) as one such avenue: especially where (anti-)speciesist positions heavily rely on appeals to moral intuition, and EDAs have potential to [...] Read more.
This article identifies empirical, conceptual and normative avenues to advance the speciesism debate. First, I highlight the application of Evolutionary Debunking Arguments (EDAs) as one such avenue: especially where (anti-)speciesist positions heavily rely on appeals to moral intuition, and EDAs have potential to move the debate forward. Second, an avenue for conceptual progress is the delineation of speciesism from other views in its vicinity, specifically from the view that biological differences between species are sometimes morally relevant (‘species-relativism’). Third, if we adopt Singer’s definition of speciesism, then a limitation of the current debate is that it is not obvious whether the core ethical principle that underlies anti-speciesist positions—the Principle of Equal Consideration of Interests—is widely applicable. Arguably, the interests of animals are often too dissimilar to establish what equal consideration amounts to. I underscore the need for integrating philosophical and empirical research, to come to terms with the extent to which the interests of members of different species are alike, and with the question of whether any dissimilarities might be morally relevant. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Ethics: Questioning the Orthodoxy)
Open AccessArticle
Misadventures of Sentience: Animals and the Basis of Equality
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1044; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121044 - 29 Nov 2019
Abstract
This paper aims to put in question the all-purposes function that sentience has come to play in animal ethics. In particular, I criticize the idea that sentience can provide a sound basis of equality, as has been recently proposed by Alasdair Cochrane. Sentience [...] Read more.
This paper aims to put in question the all-purposes function that sentience has come to play in animal ethics. In particular, I criticize the idea that sentience can provide a sound basis of equality, as has been recently proposed by Alasdair Cochrane. Sentience seems to eschew the standard problems of egalitarian accounts that are based on range properties. By analysing the nature of range properties, I will show that sentience cannot provide such a solution because it is constructed as a sui generis range property. After criticizing the approaches seeking to ground animals’ equal status, I turn to Singer’s principle of equal consideration of interests. Despite its seeming non-controversiality, I argue that it cannot do without referring to the moral status of a being in order to determine the weight of a being’s interests. Moreover, it outlines a weak egalitarian basis because it relies on the presumption of equality of interests in virtue of our lack of knowledge of the weight of individuals’ interests. I conclude in a more positive tone by arguing that, irrespective of the troubles of range property egalitarianism, animal ethics can rely on other normative resources to defend the cause of animals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Ethics: Questioning the Orthodoxy)
Open AccessArticle
Don’t Demean “Invasives”: Conservation and Wrongful Species Discrimination
Animals 2019, 9(11), 871; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9110871 - 27 Oct 2019
Abstract
It is common for conservationists to refer to non-native species that have undesirable impacts on humans as “invasive”. We argue that the classification of any species as “invasive” constitutes wrongful discrimination. Moreover, we argue that its being wrong to categorize a species as [...] Read more.
It is common for conservationists to refer to non-native species that have undesirable impacts on humans as “invasive”. We argue that the classification of any species as “invasive” constitutes wrongful discrimination. Moreover, we argue that its being wrong to categorize a species as invasive is perfectly compatible with it being morally permissible to kill animals—assuming that conservationists “kill equally”. It simply is not compatible with the double standard that conservationists tend to employ in their decisions about who lives and who dies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Ethics: Questioning the Orthodoxy)

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview
Ethics and Care: For Animals, Not Just Mammals
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1018; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121018 - 22 Nov 2019
Abstract
In the last few decades, we have made great strides in recognizing ethics and providing care for animals, but the focus has been mainly on mammals. This stems from a bias of attention not only in research but predominantly in non-scientists’ attention (to [...] Read more.
In the last few decades, we have made great strides in recognizing ethics and providing care for animals, but the focus has been mainly on mammals. This stems from a bias of attention not only in research but predominantly in non-scientists’ attention (to ‘popular’ animals), resulting partly from discussion about and depiction of animals in publications addressed to the public. This is somewhat due to political pressure, and can result in uneven conservation efforts and biases in targets for welfare concerns. As a result, there has been a huge backlash again, with concerns about pain sensitivity and welfare in fish, and a less focused but more pervasive omission of consideration of all invertebrates. That means welfare efforts are focused on 0.2% of the animal species on the planet, and education about non-mammals, particularly addressed to children, is necessary to broaden this focus and care more fully for the inhabitants of the planet. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Ethics: Questioning the Orthodoxy)
Back to TopTop