“I don’t want the responsibility:” The moral implications of avoiding dependency relations with companion animals

In Norlock Kathryn J. (ed.), Pets and People: The Ethics of Our Relationships with Companion Animals. pp. 80-94 (2017)
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I argue that humans have moral relationships with dogs and cats that they could adopt, but do not. The obligations of those of us who refrain from incurring particular relationships with dogs and cats are correlative with the power of persons with what Jean Harvey calls “interactive power,” the power to take the initiative in and direct the course of a relationship. I connect Harvey’s points about interactive power to my application of Eva Kittay’s “dependency critique,” to show that those of us who refrain from incurring particular relationships of dependency rely on caregivers in our communities and regions to fulfill the moral and social demands that an abundance of unowned companionable animals makes on the community.

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Kathryn J. Norlock
Trent University


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