Contractarianism Animal Ethics Definition

When it comes to animal ethics, one philosophical theory that is often discussed is contractarianism. Contractarianism is a moral theory that argues that moral and political rules are legitimate only when they are agreed upon by all members of a community. Animals, in this theory, are not seen as participants in the community and therefore are not considered equal moral agents.

Contractarianism defines animal ethics as the treatment of animals based on their ability to impact the well-being of humans. The theory states that animals have intrinsic value, but this value is limited to their usefulness in satisfying human needs and desires. This means that contractarianism justifies the use of animals for human purposes such as food, clothing, and scientific testing, as long as it is done in a way that minimizes suffering.

Critics of contractarianism argue that this theory disregards the value of animals beyond their usefulness to humans. They claim that animals have a right to ethical treatment, even if they do not actively participate in human society. They point out that animals are sentient beings that experience pain and suffering, and therefore, should be treated with respect and compassion.

In response to these criticisms, some contractarians have proposed an expanded version of contractarianism called animal contractarianism or critical animal studies. This theory acknowledges the intrinsic value of animals and argues that animals should be included in the moral community. It also believes that humans have a moral obligation to treat animals with respect and compassion, regardless of their usefulness to humans.

In conclusion, contractarianism defines animal ethics as the treatment of animals based on their usefulness to humans. While this theory has been criticized for ignoring the intrinsic value of animals, some proponents have proposed an expanded version that acknowledges the moral worth of animals. When considering animal ethics, it is important to take into account different philosophical theories and their implications.

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