Animal rights within judaism: The nature of the relationship between religion and ethics

Sophia 42 (1):77-84 (2003)
Abstract
The general concern of the paper is to ponder whether religious views inform ethical views? This is explored through the issue of animal rights within Judaism. There is not only a great divergence, even today worldwide, on the realm of freedom that non-humans may enjoy, but historically this group of individuals has been most restricted in their behaviour, and level of value, by the Western religious worldviews. Hence it would be instructive to see to what extent an ethical attitude toward animals is present, or absent, and whether the religious prescriptions are justified by moral reasoning. And where we have found textual basis, as we have here, for taking the moral considerability of animals seriously, the next question is: has our moral sense been informed by a religious tradition? And has this led to changes in our secular understanding of ethical treatment toward animals? Or has there been a moral intuition there all along in humans, which has incidentally been expressed in a religious mode?
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