Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien Forschungsinformationssystem VetDoc

Gewählte Publikation:

Publikationstyp: Originalbeitrag in Sammelwerk

Jahr: 2016

AutorInnen: Grimm, H; Huth, M

Titel: The 'significance of killing' versus the 'death of an animal'.

Quelle: IN: Stassen, EN; Meijboom, FLB [Hrsg.]: The end of animal life: a start for ethical debate. Wageningen, Wageningen Academic Publishers, pp. 79-101. ISBN: 978-90-8686-260-3.

Autor/innen der Vetmeduni Vienna:

Grimm Herwig
Huth Martin

Beteiligte Vetmed-Organisationseinheiten
Messerli Forschungsinstitut, Abteilung für Ethik der Mensch-Tier-Beziehung

Unsurprisingly, the debate on the moral relevance of killing animals is highly influenced by the question whether death matters to animals and in which sense. In this debate, prominent theories - such as Singer's or Regan's - focus on death as an encapsulated phenomenon. In the following we will argue that such approaches, summarized under the category of moral individualism, are not sufficient since they underestimate the role of socio-cultural contexts by neglecting the importance of the human perspective and insinuate an access to the animal per se. As a consequence, these reductionist approaches leads to normative positions which are unconvertible into practices because it hypostatizes particular (supposedly natural) animal characteristics like cognitive abilities and pushes their significance to the margins of understanding anchored in our lifeworld. Therefore, the mentioned theories fall short in providing orientation. As an alternative, we offer arguments that are inspired by a pragmatist view of ethical theory, phenomenological insights and a critique of moral individualism put forward by Cora Diamond and by Alice Crary. Most importantly for this context, John Dewey's account on the nature of moral problems will be applied. He argues that moral conflict and uncertainty stem from three independent and irreducible factors that are reflected in moral theory: (1) individual ends (consequentialism); (2) demands of communal life (deontological theories); and (3) social approbation (virtue ethics). Opposed to the predominant theories that focus on abstract ideas of animals and their properties (moral individualism), this approach promises a step towards a contextual and relational understanding of the moral consideration of killing animals in these specific, socio-cultural contexts. We will start with a brief discussion of Singer's and Regan's viewpoints in order to make their strengths and shortcomings explicit. Subsequently, we will present a pragmatistic and in part phenomenologically inspired approach. Against this background, we aim to describe different practices of killing animals using the examples of animal research, slaughtering, and euthanasia of pet animals. All three examples show a specific normative infrastructure. Finally we will summarize the arguments and draw conclusions.

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