Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

What duties do we have to animals, and why?

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • What duties do we have to animals, and why?

    I am a birdwatcher, who loves nature. According to Aristotelian and Thomistic perspectives, humans are superior to animals by virtue of their rationality. This I see as problematic for the simple reason that it would also deny moral duties towards the mentally inferior (I think Aristotle would bite the bullet here), and because some animals (e.g. Dolphins and Great Apes) very likely do have some degree of rationality.

    However, from the perspective of an Aristotelian virtue ethicist, like myself, animals would not be part of the polis, since our relationships with animals are not the same as our relationships to humans. In theory, then, they are outside of the ethical sphere.

    However, though we may not have any direct duties to animals, we should, like St Thomas said, avoid unnecessary cruelty to animals to avoid cruelty towards people, especially since it has been shown scientifically that he was right.

  • #2
    According to Aristotelian and Thomistic perspectives, humans are superior to animals by virtue of their rationality. This I see as problematic for the simple reason that it would also deny moral duties towards the mentally inferior (I think Aristotle would bite the bullet here), and because some animals (e.g. Dolphins and Great Apes) very likely do have some degree of rationality.
    This is a non-sequitar. Although Einstein was superior to me, this doesn´t mean that the moral duties from the natural law somehow are different for him. Our rationality is the ability to recognize universals ( mathematics, logic, geometry, essences) and its according to Thomism the only immaterial process in thought. It is claimed that only humans have the particular ability to recognize universals. But this is not required to show learning skills the animals have you mentioned. At least I don´t see in which way that would be the case.
    This all doesn´t free us of any moral duty toward the lesser animals. Bringing unnecessary pain is still immoral, be it toward a human or towards a dog. The A-T perspective just means that it was morally right to kill Harambe before he could have harmed the kid.
    In theory, then, they are outside of the ethical sphere.
    Not outside. Just lesser in comparison.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Kwlsk View Post
      Not outside. Just lesser in comparison.
      I was taught in school that Aristotle's virtue ethics was agent centred, though also focused on the flourishing of the polis, which animals don't belong to.

      Comment


      • #4
        I have some sympathy for Aristotle's Anthropocentrism (since unlike that of the Stoics, Paul, Augustine or Descartes, Aristotle's does not preclude some compassion), full study of nature is only possible if we desacralise (but not desecrate) nature. The view that nature exists for the sake of man helps to stimulate science, and it is no coincidence that Aristotle was one of the first to study zoology.

        Comment


        • #5
          It´s also not a free pass to treat non-rational animals any way imaginable. But ultimately when the choice requires it, a human life has to be given a higher value than the animal one (I thought Harambe was a godd example for illustration). I try to imagine us like a responsible farmer, we have to take care of the animals, while sometimes needing one for our own purposes (meat,fiel etc.). The Aristotelian meatphysics is certainly more animal-friendly than the cartesian robot-picture illustrated from them

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by The Spiritual Twitcher View Post

            I was taught in school that Aristotle's virtue ethics was agent centred, though also focused on the flourishing of the polis, which animals don't belong to.
            I´m not too familiar with Aristotle´s position in particular. My main influence is ´currently Alasdair MacIntyre and he is aware that he disagreed with Aristotle on some points. But also admittedly here, I´m not an authority to listen to at all. I haven´t been to far in his books and mainly rely on some of his articles and lectures.

            Comment

            Working...
            X