The Role of Love in Animal Ethics

Hypatia 27 (3):583-600 (2012)
Abstract
Philosophers working on animal ethics have focused, with good reason, on the wrongness of cruelty toward animals and of devaluing their lives. I argue that the theoretical resources of animal ethics are far from exhausted. Moreover, reflection on what makes animals ethically significant is relevant for thinking about the roots of morality and therefore about ethical relationships between human beings. I rely on a normative approach to animal ethics grounded in the importance of meeting needs in general and, in particular, needs for affection and companionship. I draw on testimonies of shared love between people and animals, and on Raimond Gaita's work on the importance of emotional connections between creatures who are similarly needy. The ethics of care, which attaches special importance to meeting needs, provides an integrative theoretical framework
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