Animal Rights and the Duty to Harm: When to be a Harm Causing Deontologist

Journal for Ethics and Moral Philosophy 3 (1):5-26 (2020)
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An adequate theory of rights ought to forbid the harming of animals (human or nonhuman) to promote trivial interests of humans, as is often done in the animal-user industries. But what should the rights view say about situations in which harming some animals is necessary to prevent intolerable injustices to other animals? I develop an account of respectful treatment on which, under certain conditions, it’s justified to intentionally harm some individuals to prevent serious harm to others. This can be compatible with recognizing the inherent value of the ones who are harmed. My theory has important implications for contemporary moral issues in nonhuman animal ethics, such as the development of cultured meat and animal research.

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Cheryl (C.E.) Abbate
University of Nevada, Las Vegas


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