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Pets and PeopleThe Ethics of Companion Animals$
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Christine Overall

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190456085

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190456085.001.0001

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Care, Moral Progress, and Companion Animals

Care, Moral Progress, and Companion Animals

(p.49) 4 Care, Moral Progress, and Companion Animals
Pets and People

Maurice Hamington

Oxford University Press

This chapter contends that our companion animal relationships foment the development of care ethics and, moreover, provide the habit and skill needed for moral progress. Responsiveness is essential to caring. The lack of narrative in relationships with companion animals requires a heightened level of non-linguistic responsiveness (such as through touch) as well as an increased effort at empathetic imagination. The habits of attunement needed for interspecies care, if meaningfully engaged, point to an openness to moral progress. These relationships are not governed by abstract rules that support a static standard of normativity. However, care does not imply relativism, as it is guided by effective response. The notion of care employed draws from feminist theory but emphasizes care’s embodied and performative aspects. Allowing embodied care for animals to enter our moral imaginations, such as through informed anthropomorphism, suggests a means for moral progress with provocative implications. One such implication is ethical veganism.

Keywords:   care ethics, embodiment, ethical veganism, habit, informed anthropomorphism, moral progress, performativity, touch

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