Bioethics - Purdue Lectures in Ethics, Policy, and Science

Dr. Gary Varner: Pets, Companion Animals, and Domesticated Partners: Ethics and Animal Companions

September 15 @ 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM - MRGN 121 (1201 West State Street)

Abstract: In this presentation, I first introduce stipulative definitions of the terms “companion animal,” “domesticated partner,” and “mere pet” that I gave in an essay in an anthology titled Ethics for Everyday (McGraw-Hill 2002). I then argue that the institution of pet-keeping is justifiable, but that the justification is stronger (at least “other things equal”) for companion animals than for mere pets, and that it is still stronger (at least “other things equal”) for domesticated partners than for companion animals. I then use a framework that I developed in my book Personhood, Ethics, and Animal Cognition: Situating Animals in Hare’s Two-Level Utilitarianism (Oxford University Press 2012) to categorize various strategies for improving our relationships with pets.

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