Animal ethics is generating growing interest both within academia and outside it. This book focuses on ethical issues connected to animals who play an extremely important role in human lives: companion animals ("pets"), with a special emphasis on dogs and cats, the animals most often chosen as pets. Companion animals are both vulnerable to and dependent upon us. What responsibilities do we owe to them, especially since we have the power and authority to make literal life-and-death decisions about them? What kinds of relationships should we have with our companion animals? And what might we learn from cats and dogs about the nature and limits of our own morality?
The contributors write from a variety of philosophical perspectives, including utilitarianism, care ethics, feminist ethics, phenomenology, and the genealogy of ideas. The eighteen chapters are divided into two sections, to provide a general background to ethical debate about companion animals, followed by a focus on a number of crucial aspects of human relationships to companion animals. The first section discusses the nature of our relationships to companion animals, the foundations of our moral responsibilities to companion animals, what our relationships with companion animals teach us, and whether animals themselves can act ethically. The second part explores some specific ethical issues related to crucial aspects of companion animals' lives - breeding, reproduction, sterilization, cloning, adoption, feeding, training, working, sexual interactions, longevity, dying, and euthanasia.
Christine Overall is Professor of Philosophy and University Research Chair, Queen's University, Ontario.