Intrinsic Value and Direct Duties: From Animal Ethics towards Environmental Ethics?
- Cite this article as:
- Heeger, R. & Brom, F.W. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics (2001) 14: 241. doi:10.1023/A:1011319921159
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Three types of concern for animal welfare are widelyheld: Animals should feel well, they should function well, andthey should lead natural lives. The paper deals with a well-knownanswer to the question of why such concerns are morallyappropriate: Human beings have direct duties towards animals,because animals are beings that can flourish, the flourishing ofanimals is intrinsically or inherently valuable, and that whichis conducive to their flourishing is a legitimate object of moralconcern. Looking for a tenable conception of direct dutiestowards animals, the following questions are discussed: Whatshould we take it to mean that ``animal flourishing isintrinsically or inherently valuable?'' Under what conditions doesa living being's ability to flourish create direct duties towardsthis being? Is awareness or sentience required for there to bedirect duties towards a living being? Does such a requirementimply that moral concerns for animals would be limited to theirfeeling well, or does it also give way to having moral concernsfor their functioning well and leading natural lives? Can onetake into account considered judgements that claim that towardsdifferent animals we have moral duties that differ in kind and/orstrength? If environmental ethics cannot be based on theconception of direct duties here discussed, should one draw adistinction between duties towards ourselves, our fellow humanbeings, or animals, and duties regarding plants, or collectiveentities such as populations, species, and ecosystems?