JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

[Man and his fellow-creatures under ethical aspects]

G M Teutsch
ALTEX 2000, 17 (4): 163-213
11178553
The attempts to reduce the volume of this report by tightening the areas of ecological ethics and practical animal protection has not been successful. To the contrary, the expansion of philosophical ethics has led to a further increase. In the face of ever growing numbers of publications in book form, attention given to articles in periodicals will have to be reduced drastically in the future. The debate about the moral status of animals continues within the philosophical discussion. Here, the central question deals with the qualities an animal species has to demonstrate in order to be recognised as worthy of protection. This dispute gains particular relevancy in facing a possible killing of animals (chapter 13). Following the still predominant anthropocentric opinion, the killing of an animal is morally questionable only if the respective animal is able to recognise being killed as a loss, even if such killing is conducted without inducing fear or pain. Animals unable to such a recognition - so the logical conclusion - cannot be harmed by any injustice, misfortune or suffering to which they are subjected. At this point, at the latest, our moral sensibility begins to react: Contrary to a rock, an animal"s life can be taken, and the preservation of life is programmed into the nature of "lower animals" as well. The philosophical discussion, though, gives rise to the impression that creatures could be divided up into groups of those where killing is ethically inadmissible, then those where killing would have to be defended and justified and finally those whose killing is ethically irrelevant. Set into practice, any standard of this kind would have to fail due the impossibility of defining these categories. A new development within animal rights (chapter 3.5) could open up if rights would be understood predominantly as the result of the attempt towards justice. Justice (chapter 3.4) far animals can be demanded with most convincing arguments because there are at best obstacles but no objections. Also, movement has reached the discussion concerning anthropocentricity in as much as "non circumventability" of anthropocentricity, supported by epistemological arguments for years, is now clearly being questioned (chapter 3.3). This new agility in ethics stands in clear contrast to the rigidity of factual conditions. Even in cases where there was hope for change, as i.e. the caged chicken decision (chapter 6.3), it now can be expected that the annulled ruling will be replaced by a new one, once again contradicting animal protection laws. Resistance does not only rise against application of morals and the law, resistance is a noticeably appearing in ethics itself. For decades, representatives of animal user organisations have reacted only defensively to ethical demands. Now, a clear change of style can be recognised going towards the development of user acceptable ethics. In this, approachments are observable as well. Thus, many demands of a species-crossing humanitarianism are being basically accepted, while factually remaining neglected. This is because anthropocentricity, in the sense of man taking precedence, has set up a virtually unassailable position: The principle of proximity in the sense that man"s responsibility for his animated environment begins at his immediate surroundings and decreases necessarily with increasing distance from the self or the own family. In this way, proximity still suffices for the family-dog but not for those animals used for dog-food.

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