Access to the full content is only available to members of institutions that have purchased access. If you belong to such an institution, please log in or find out more about how to order.



Animals and ethics

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L004-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2021
Retrieved May 18, 2024, from

Article Summary

Animal ethics is the study of ethical issues pertaining to human beings’ use of (nonhuman) animals. Its recently earned status as a significant area of academic inquiry (see, e.g. Beauchamp and Frey, 2011; Armstrong and Botsler, 2017) was propelled in part by the publication of Peter’s Singer’s Animal Liberation in 1975 and Tom Regan’s The Case for Animal Rights in 1983. A pivotal philosophical issue in animal ethics is how to understand animals’ moral status. The two most extensively researched topics in practical animal ethics concern the use of animals for food and their use in scientific research. Additional practical issues (which space constraints prevent the present article from exploring) include the ethics of confining animals in human homes, stalls, zoos, and aquaria; the use of animals for entertainment purposes in such venues as circus exhibits, rodeos, and horse races; and the harvesting of animals’ bodies for clothing. Because human use of animals is so deeply entrenched in traditions and everyday practices, impactful challenge of such usage has required the fulcrum of philosophical questioning – especially, questioning of common attitudes about animals’ moral status.

Citing this article:
DeGrazia, David. Animals and ethics, 2021, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L004-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

Related Articles