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Experience of suffering. Disputable considerations on animal ethics
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Zentrum für Ethik in den Wissenschaften, D-Tübingen
In the current debate on the protection of animals, sentientist approaches dominate. Recourse to the ability of animals to suffer is intended to indicate and demonstrate their moral relevance. Although sentientist arguments appear in very different argumentative contexts, they all presuppose the particular significance of suffering, or rather, the ability to suffer for the imperative to take animals into moral consideration. This article questions this basic presupposition with a view to determining more precisely the structure of the relationship between suffering and moral relevance.
Initially, a number of basic issues with respect to ethics and morality are considered. Then the essential presuppositions of sentientism are investigated. On the one hand, the question is addressed as to how the notion of suffering can be defined meaningfully with respect to its appropriateness as a moral criterium. On the other, it is shown that the moral relevance of suffering requires its own proof and should not be assumed a priori. Finally, a systematically developed ethical position on the protection of animals is introduced and sketched out with respect to its practical consequences.
ALTEX 16, 271-277