Harming Some to Benefit Others: Animal Rights and the Moral Imperative of Trap-Neuter-Release Programs

Between the Species 21 (1) (2018)
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Because spaying/neutering animals involves the harming of some animals in order to prevent harm to others, some ethicists, like David Boonin, argue that the philosophy of animal rights is committed to the view that spaying/neutering animals violates the respect principle and that Trap Neuter Release programs are thus impermissible. In response, I demonstrate that the philosophy of animal rights holds that, under certain conditions, it is justified, and sometimes even obligatory, to cause harm to some animals in order to prevent greater harm to others. As I will argue, causing lesser harm to some animals in order to prevent greater harm to others, as TNR programs do, is compatible with the recognition of the inherent value of the ones who are harmed. Indeed, we can, and do, spay/neuter cats while acknowledging that they have value in their own right.

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Author's Profile

Cheryl (C.E.) Abbate
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Citations of this work

The Wrong of Eugenic Sterilization.Aleksy Tarasenko-Struc - forthcoming - Journal of Bioethical Inquiry.
Keep Your Cats Indoors: A Reply to Abbate.Bob Fischer - 2020 - Acta Analytica 35 (3):463-468.

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References found in this work

The case for animal rights.Tom Regan - 1985 - In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Exploring ethics: an introductory anthology. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 425-434.
The Categorical Imperative.Stuart M. Brown & H. J. Paton - 1949 - Philosophical Review 58 (6):599 - 611.
Interspecific justice.Donald VanDeVeer - 1979 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 22 (1-4):55 – 79.
Animal Suffering: Philosophy and Culture.Elisa Aaltola - 2012 - Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave-Macmillan.

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