Undermining Indirect Duty Theories

Between the Species (6):1 (2006)
There is a class of views about our moral relations with non-human animals that share the idea that animals do not matter directly for ethical purposes: whatever duties or obligations we have with respect to animals are indirect, connected somehow to other duties or obligations – to other human beings, for example – in which the well-being or interests of animals do not figure. Criticisms of indirect duty theories have often focused either upon denying the link that is supposed to exist between how we treat animals and how or whether we discharge other obligations or upon denying that the indirect duty theorist has an adequate account of the animal-related duties we are confident that we have. I shall not pursue either of these options. Instead, I shall argue, first, that there is a tension within the indirect duty theorist’s view that makes it doubtful that anything will enable him to get what he wants from a theory, and second, that even if the necessary link between the way animals and humans are treated is assumed to be present, it will turn out that its best explanation will imply that there are direct duties to animals after all.
Keywords Animal Ethics  Indirect Duties
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