The Ethics of Domestication; a new, contextualist perspective on problems encountered in the human-animal relationship
01 / 2013 - 12 / 2016
Veel mensen hebben bezwaar tegen ingrepen bij dieren, zoals genetische modificatie. Traditionele ethische theorieën kunnen deze bezwaren niet rechtvaardigen. Dit onderzoek gaat na of een theorie gericht op de soort, en niet alleen individuele dieren, genoemde bezwaren wél kan onderbouwen.
The philosophical discourse on animal ethics that has been ongoing since 1975 is at risk of reaching a deadlock. This discourse centeres on the opposition between considerations of welfare versus intrinsic value (e.g. Dutch law) of individual animals. Due to this focus on individuals, many problems encountered in animal domestication cannot be satisfactorily addressed (for example: breeding animals for aesthetic characteristics often leads to the creation of whole breeds of unhealthy animals. Also, many people object to changing fundamental biological characteristics of animals for our purposes: we should change the farm to fit the animal, not the other way around). Objections to "tampering" with animals seem to focus on the level of the species rather than the individual. However, it is not self-evident that species have independent moral relevance. I propose to examine whether and how considerations at the level of species could nevertheless play a role in solving above-mentioned problems. My hypothesis is that species could have dependent moral relevance, because other species are intertwined with our own practical self-understanding. Each definition of what it means to be human has implications for our views on what we owe each other and other species; each defines our views about how we should relate to the non-human world. In order to solve these problems, then, we need to reconsider our relationship to other species. To this end, I will further develop the novel, still underdetermined "contextual approach" in animal ethics, integrate this with perspectives from philosophical anthropology and philosophy of biology, and combine insights from these fields with empirical research of stakeholder opinions. The study aims to address problems in practices like veterinary medicine, animal breeding, and the management of animals in the wild, and will provide input for societal and political debates regarding the human-animal relationship and even biodiversity preservation.