Naturalness: Beyond animal welfare

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 15 (2):171-186 (2002)
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There is an ongoing debate in animalethics on the meaning and scope of animalwelfare. In certain broader views, leading anatural life through the development of naturalcapabilities is also headed under the conceptof animal welfare. I argue that a concern forthe development of natural capabilities of ananimal such as expressed when living freelyshould be distinguished from the preservationof the naturalness of its behavior andappearance. However, it is not always clearwhere a plea for natural living changes overinto a plea for the preservation of theirnaturalness or wildness. In the first part ofthis article, I examine to what extent theconcerns for natural living meet ``theexperience requirement.'' I conclude that someof these concerns go beyond welfare. In thesecond part of the article. I ask whether wehave moral reasons to respect concernsfor the naturalness of an animal's living thattranscend its welfare. I argue that the moralrelevance of such considerations can be graspedwhen we see animals as entities bearingnon-moral intrinsic values. In my view the``natural'' appearance and behavior of an animalmay embody intrinsic values. Caring for ananimal's naturalness should then be understoodas caring for such intrinsic values. Intrinsicvalues provide moral reasons for action iffthey are seen as constitutive of the good lifefor humans. I conclude by reinterpreting,within the framework of a perfectionist ethicaltheory, the notion of indirect dutiesregarding animals, which go beyond andsupplement the direct duties towardsanimals.

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Author's Profile

Bert Musschenga
VU University Amsterdam

Citations of this work

Genetic engineering and the integrity of animals.Rob De Vries - 2006 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 19 (5):469-493.
The wild animal as a research animal.Jac A. A. Swart - 2004 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 17 (2):181-197.
Ethological farm programs and the “market” for animal welfare.Stefan Mann - 2005 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 18 (4):369-382.

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References found in this work

Animal Liberation.Peter Singer (ed.) - 1977 - Avon Books.
What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):323-354.
Taking Animals Seriously: Mental Life and Moral Status.David DeGrazia (ed.) - 1996 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
The View from Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - Ethics 98 (1):137-157.
The Lives of Animals.J. M. Coetzee - 2016 - Princeton University Press.

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