What the Wild Things are: A Critique on Clare Palmer's "What (If Anything) Do We Owe Animals?"

June 2013
Between the Species: An Electronic Journal for the Study of Phil;Jun2013, Vol. 16 Issue 1, p53
Academic Journal
In this critique of Clare Palmer's "What (if anything) do we owe wild animals?", I develop three points. First, I consider the case study which opens her essay and argue that that there are good empirical reasons to think that we should assist domesticated horses and not wild deer. Then, I critique Palmer's claim that "wildness is not a capacity," arguing that wildness connotes certain capacities which wild animals generally have and which domesticated animals generally lack. Lastly, I develop what I call the "supererogation problem" against Palmer's preferred contextualist view, claiming that while the contextualist view doesn't obligate us to eliminate predators and otherwise redesign nature in the name of wild animal welfare, it may nonetheless allow such interventions. This suggests that the problem with both utilitarian and contextualist views arises from their shared theory of value and not their theory of obligation.


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