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Animals, Relations, and the Laissez-Faire Intuition

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In Animal Ethics in Context, Clare Palmer tries to harmonise two competing approaches to animal ethics. One focuses on the morally relevant capacities that animals possess. The other is the Laissez-Faire Intuition (LFI): the claim that we have duties to assist domesticated animals but should (at least generally) leave wild animals alone. In this paper, I critique the arguments that Palmer offers in favour of the No-Contact LFI - the view that we have (prima facie) duties not to harm wild animals but no duties to assist them. I argue that Palmer's endorsement of the No-Contact LFI is unwarranted. Her arguments actually provide strong reasons to endorse what I call the Gradient View - a position that posits weak presumptive duties to assist wild animals that become stronger as our relations with the animals grow stronger.
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Keywords: Animals; animal ethics; duties of assistance; laissez-faire intuition

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 August 2016

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  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2017) of 1.852. 5 Year Impact Factor: 1.8.
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