Neither Owners Nor Guardians: In Search of a Morally Appropriate Model for the Keeping of Companion Animals

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 30 (1):55-66 (2017)
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The institution of owning pets has been subjected to compelling criticism on moral grounds. Yet advocates of a reformed, guardian/dependent model may yet face an abolitionist conclusion. We argue that treating companion animals as dependents entails an indefensible moral priority for them in the face of their guardians’ competing moral demands. An abolitionist dilemma arises as a result: if the property and reformed models fail, a morally acceptable characterization of the moral relationship between humans and their companion animals has yet to be articulated. We close by inviting others to develop plausible alternatives to the ownership and reformed models.



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Kyle Fruh
Duke Kunshan University

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