Utilitarianism about animals and the moral significance of use

Journal article

Killoren, David and Streiffer, Robert 2020. Utilitarianism about animals and the moral significance of use. Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition. 177 (4), pp. 1043 - 1063. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-018-01229-1
AuthorsKilloren, David and Streiffer, Robert

The Hybrid View endorses utilitarianism about animals and rejects utilitarianism about humans. This view has received relatively little sustained attention in the philosophical literature. Yet, as we show, the Hybrid View underlies many widely held beliefs about zoos, pet ownership, scientific research on animal and human subjects, and agriculture. We develop the Hybrid View in rigorous detail and extract several of its main commitments. Then we examine the Hybrid View in relation to the view that human use of animals constitutes a special relationship. We show that it is intuitively plausible that our use of animals alters our moral obligations to animals. That idea is widely believed to be incompatible with the sort of utilitarian approach in animal ethics that is prescribed by the Hybrid View. To overturn that conventional wisdom, we develop two different principles concerning the moral significance of human use of animals, which we call the Partiality Principle and the Strengthening Principle. We show that the Partiality Principle is consistent with several key commitments of the Hybrid View. And, strikingly, we show that the Strengthening Principle is fully consistent with all of the main commitments of the Hybrid View. Thus we establish the surprising result that utilitarians about animals can coherently offer a robust and intuitively appealing account of the moral significance of animal use.

KeywordsUtilitarianism; Consequentialism; Animal ethics; Special relationships; Use
JournalPhilosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition
Journal citation177 (4), pp. 1043 - 1063
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-018-01229-1
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85058975505
Page range1043 - 1063
Research GroupDianoia Institute of Philosophy
Place of publicationNetherlands
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