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4.7: Discussion Questions

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    1. For many ethical issues, a good place to start is to reflect on “common views” about the issues. Suppose you surveyed a range of people and asked them what kind of moral obligations we have towards animals (perhaps you should ask about specific animals or different kinds of animals). Focusing on possible broadly “anti-animal” responses (which some might describe as “pro-human”), what are some of the most common answers that would be given? What reasons would you often hear in favor of these answers? Are these reasons generally good reasons or not? Why?
    2. What are the strongest, most important and/or most interesting objections that critics raise to the moral cases in defense of animals? Are these objections successful, i.e., do they defeat any of the defenses of animals (from the last Chapter)? Are these arguments sound? Why or why not?
    3. For an audience who has not read the texts, explain Kant’s, Cohen’s, and Machan’s arguments against animals. What questions and objections do you have to them? How might they respond? Are their arguments sound? Why or why not?
    4. For an audience who has not read the texts, explain the arguments “against animals” from contractarianism or the social contract theory (especially see Taylor’s discussion of Carruthers, and Regan’s discussion of Narveson from Chapter 1). What questions and objections do you have for them? How might they respond? Are their arguments sound? Why or why not?
    5. Should people find any (or all) of the cases “against animals” to be persuasive? Which, if any, is strongest, in your opinion, and why? If you think people should be persuaded, why is it that they often are not? (If people should not be persuaded, why are some people convinced?). Any other questions or objections from anything from this section can be asked here.

    Of course, always feel free to raise any other questions, observations, criticisms and any other responses to the Chapter’s readings and issues.

    Paper Option

    Assignment: For an audience unfamiliar with ethics, logic and animal ethics, explain the strongest broad moral case to be made “against” animals and/or as a critical response to pro-animal ethical theorizing (this could be a single theorist’s approach, or perhaps it could be a combination approach). Explain what this case implies in general for animals and how one defends or supports such a theory about how animals deserve to be treated. Raise and respond to at least three of what you think are the most important objections to your arguments or your position. 4-6 pages.

    4.7: Discussion Questions is shared under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Nathan Nobis via source content that was edited to conform to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.