On the Moral Distinctiveness of Sport Hunting

Environmental Ethics 26 (2):155-169 (2004)
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Although controversy concerning the morality of hunting is generally focused on sport hunting, sport hunting itself is not a morally distinctive kind of hunting. The understanding of hunting in general needs to be supplemented with reference to the goods which hunting seeks. Attempts to draw a moral distinction between sport and subsistence hunting are inadequate and historically suspect. Likewise, trying to establish sport hunting as morally distinctive by emphasizing its similarities to other sports also fails. Nevertheless, there are standards accepted by hunters that support ethical judgments about hunting. Ethical hunting requires reentry into a community of nonhuman beings governed by ecology and evolution, not human constructs, the development of virtues such as tenacity, courage, moderation, and discipline, and the achievement of a heightened respect for the biotic community in which the hunt takes place. By means of such standards, we may yet be able to determine what good hunting is even though we are unable to determine whether sport hunting is good.



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