Wild Animals in Our Backyard. a Contextual Approach to the Intrinsic Value of Animals
Swart, Jac A A
Acta biotheoretica 2011 Jun; 59(2): 185-200
As a reflection on recent debates on the value of wild animals we examine the question of the intrinsic value of wild animals in both natural and man-made surroundings. We examine the concepts being wild and domesticated. In our approach we consider animals as dependent on their environment, whether it is a human or a natural environment. Stressing this dependence we argue that a distinction can be made between three different interpretations of a wild animal's intrinsic value: a species-specific, a naturalistic, and an individualistic interpretation. According to the species-specific approach, the animal is primarily considered as a member of its species; according to the naturalistic interpretation, the animal is seen as dependent on the natural environment; and according to the individualistic approach, the animal is seen in terms of its relationship to humans. In our opinion, the species-specific interpretation, which is the current dominant view, should be supplemented-but not replaced by-naturalistic and individualistic interpretations, which focus attention on the relationship of the animal to the natural and human environments, respectively. Which of these three interpretations is the most suitable in a given case depends on the circumstances and the opportunity for the animal to grow and develop according to its nature and capabilities.
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