Betraying Animals

The Journal of Ethics 23 (2):183-200 (2019)
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This paper presents a new way of thinking about the relationship between humans and the nonhuman animals in their care. Most ethical analysis of the treatment of nonhuman animals has focussed on questions of moral status, justice, and the wrongness of harming them. This paper does something different, it examines the role played by trust in interspecies relationships. In both agriculture and laboratory settings, humans deliberately foster trusting relationships with nonhuman animals. An intrinsic feature of the trusting relationship in these settings is that it is created in order to be exploited and betrayed. However, little consideration has been given to asking what a deliberate betrayal of another species says about the character of those who carry out the betrayals. This paper argues that regardless of the moral status of nonhuman animals, a willingness to foster trust in order to exploit the vulnerability of a nonhuman suggests a serious character flaw. Our failure thus far to apprehend systematic forms of betrayal indicates a moral blind-spot when it comes to other species.



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Steve Cooke
University of Leicester

References found in this work

Trust and antitrust.Annette Baier - 1986 - Ethics 96 (2):231-260.
Trust.Carolyn McLeod - 2020 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Deciding to believe.Bernard Williams - 1973 - In Problems of the Self. Cambridge University Press. pp. 136--51.

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