Animal Protection Decision-Making Based on Aesthetic Value is Undermined by Subjectivity
In “Why Do Species Matter?”, Lilly-Marlene Russow argues that humans have a moral obligation to protect and to ensure the continued existence of things of aesthetic value which includes some but not necessarily all animals. In this paper, I will argue that the subjectivity involved in determining aesthetic value makes it an insufficient element for determining moral obligation to the protection and preservation of some animals.
Russow begins the argument by separating humanity’s obligations toward species from obligations to individual members of a species. This is to allow consistency with the disapproval of speciesism. Russow admits that by protecting individual animals we may, as a byproduct, protect some endangered species but members of the endangered species should be treated no differently than those of a flourishing one. She states that the concept of having interests, as it relates to determining value, cannot be applied to species but rather only to individual animals. Russow then uses several test cases to draw some conclusions about humanity’s confusion around what a species really is and what it is about certain species that we are trying to preserve or, in some cases, we do not care to preserve.
Next, Russow provides objections to three traditional arguments for why species do matter. The first is the argument for stewardship which Russow dismisses due to its assumption that species are valuable. The second is the argument for extrinsic value of species regarding their contribution to big picture of life. Russow objects to three different extrinsic value perspectives by 1) stating that we cannot use a specie’s declination as a sign that humans are doing something wrong because that cannot account for unforeseen events, 2) stating that not every species is required for ecological stability, and 3) denying the evolutionary chain argument because...
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