Animals as Stakeholders

In Natalie Thomas (ed.), Animals and Business Ethics. Springer (forthcoming)
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Animals have moral status, and we have corresponding obligations to take their interests into account. I argue that Stakeholder Theory provides a moderate, yet principled way for businesses to do so. Animals ought to be treated as stakeholders given that they affect and are affected by the achievement of the objectives of the businesses in which they are involved. Stakeholder Theory therefore requires taking those interests into account. It does not, however, require that they be given the same weight as human interests. By taking the stakeholder approach, businesses can avoid merely reacting to (rapidly increasing) public outcry over the treatment of animals. Even those who hold extreme positions—that businesses have no obligations to animals, or that animal products and services are inherently immoral—can take the treatment of animals as stakeholders to provide an ethical realpolitik of sorts that is both better for animals and better for business.

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Joshua Smart
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville


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