Ethical Implications of Animal Personhood and the Role for Science
Personhood is a normative concept applied to beings who are due moral consideration given their agential and social properties. While the concept is a normative one, knowing how to appropriately apply the concept is a descriptive project, requiring guidance from scientists who can help to uncover whether or not a being has the relevant properties. If our current science attributes properties sufficient for personhood to a nonhuman animal, then we can directly conclude that the individual is morally considerable. However, from the mere fact that an animal is a person, we cannot draw any specific conclusions about appropriate treatment for captive animals. I will argue that from the premise that an animal is a person we cannot directly conclude that the animal should be released from captivity, should not participate in research, should not participate in ecotourist schemes, or engage in other work; further descriptive premises would be needed. Such premises can only be supplied by experts who know the animal and the animal’s context. With respect to the descriptive project, animal ethicists need to defer to folk experts and scientists who are able to make informed judgements about what is best for a particular animal. This requires a collaborative relationship of trust between scientists and ethicists in order to best respect animal persons.
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Kristin Andrews, "Ethical Implications of Animal Personhood and the Role for Science" in: "Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics (2020) XXII/1", EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, Trieste, 2020, pp. 13-32
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