Throw out the dog: are pets expendable?

Little Tiger, big enthusiastic Buddy, and laidback Smokey are some of the furry individuals who share our living rooms, our kitchens, and sometimes our beds. Most people consider their companion
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Little Tiger, big enthusiastic Buddy, and laid-back Smokey are some of the furry individuals who share our living rooms, our kitchens, and sometimes our beds. Most people consider their companion animals—their “pets”—to be friends or members of the family. Despite the depth of many people’s relationships with the cats and dogs who share their lives, many people also assume that these animals are in certain ways expendable: that it matters less that an animal dies than that a human being dies, and that the death of an animal is not as bad as the death of a human being. Philosopher David DeGrazia, for example, imagines the following scenario: “If a lifeboat is sinking with several normal human beings and a dog aboard, where it is clear that all will drown unless someone is thrown overboard, nearly everyone agrees that it is morally right to sacrifice the dog.”  This is because, he says, animals have very little, if any, self-awareness. They lack psychological unity—a connection to. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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