Domestic Animals and the Land Ethic: A Response to J. Baird Callicott

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Domestic Animals and the Land Ethic: A Response to J. Baird Callicott

Preface

Both “Animal Liberation and Environmental Ethics: Bad Marriage, Quick Divorce” by Mark Sagoff and “All Animals Are Equal” by Peter Singer seem to ignore a fundamental defining characteristic of animals, namely their level of domestication. These two essays’ assumptions and exclusions inspired me to think more about domestication. Partially through the process of brainstorming and outlining my arguments, I read “Animal Liberation: A Triangular Affair” by J. Baird Callicott, which at the very least dealt with domestication, but I found that his version of the land ethic dealt with wild animals better than with domesticated animals.

Abstract

A certain state of nature existed for much of the history of the earth where ecosystems and species competed and selected for/against each other, causing evolutionary change. At the point where humans started to domesticate other creatures (by selecting based on simplified understandings of characteristics which was different from those previously selected for), a new era began. This new era created new ethical questions because we developed an inter-species relationship previously non-existent. J. Baird Callicott’s extension of Aldo Leopold’s land ethic addresses a possible ethic toward wild and domestic animals, but doesn’t sufficiently examine why we should treat domestic animals differently than humans and wild animals. Accepting Callicott’s ethic toward wild animals, I argue that domestic animals have evolved to become members in the human ecosystem and should be treated in that way, rather than eliminated (Callicott), treated poorly (factory farms), or liberated (animals libera...

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... to be a part of the human community and should therefore be treated not like humans, but instead as animal members of this ecosystem.

Paper Bibliography

Callicott, J. Baird. “Animal Liberation: A Triangular Affair” in Environmental Ethics edited by Robert Elliot. Oxford University Press, New York. 1995. p. 52-63.

Leopold, Aldo. “The Land Ethic” in Environmental Ethics edited by David Schmidtz and Elizabeth Willott. Oxford University Press, New York. 2002. p. 27-32.

Sagoff, Mark. “Animal Liberation and Environmental Ethics: Bad Marriage, Quick Divorce” in Environmental Ethics edited by David Schmidtz and Elizabeth Willott. Oxford University Press, New York. 2002. p. 38-44.

Singer, Peter. “All Animals Are Equal” in Environmental Ethics edited by David Schmidtz and Elizabeth Willott. Oxford University Press, New York. 2002. p. 17-27.

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