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Pets and PeopleThe Ethics of Companion Animals$
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Christine Overall

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190456085

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190456085.001.0001

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Ethical Behavior in Animals

Ethical Behavior in Animals

Chapter:
(p.95) 7 Ethical Behavior in Animals
Source:
Pets and People
Author(s):

Bernard E. Rollin

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190456085.003.0007

Over the last forty years, companion animals have assumed greater importance in society. Naturally, this has led to their being more closely studied, particularly their mental capacities, including their ability to act morally. While science is at best ambivalent regarding this issue, ordinary common sense is more receptive to it. Utilizing the author’s personal experience, as well as a clear account of what acting morally means, this chapter provides a reasonable argument for animal moral behavior. Specifically, it argues that not only can some animal behavior be described as morally praiseworthy, but also the best explanation for some animal behavior seems to be something like an awareness of right and wrong and a sense of reciprocity with animals of different species, including human beings.

Keywords:   animal moral behavior, mental capacity, moral behavior, common sense, Immanuel Kant, ordinary language

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