Hursthouse's Discussion Of Animal Cruelty

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Similar to her discussion of abortion Hursthouse’s discussion of animal cruelty strays away from the typical debate. Usually, discussions of animal cruelty center around the metaphysical status of animals (i.e. Are they conscious? Do they have rights?). Instead, most of her discussion is tied up with the virtue of compassion. The virtuous person who necessarily possesses a compassionate disposition cannot justify the harm of living things, when said harm is optional for the agent’s survival. In regard to eating animals, if the virtuous person is in a position to alter their diet they should do so, however if food is scarce it would be foolish for them not to eat whatever was available. It is important to note here the importance of motivation.…show more content…
In this case testing cosmetics on animals. Since there is no need for cosmetics and testing can cause animals to suffer the action is morally wrong. Consequently, the virtuous persons should not purchase cosmetics that are tested on animals or engage in such testing themselves. Hursthouse struggles in the portion of her essay that discusses this since for many of us we do not purchase or produce cosmetics, even so if/when such an occasion arises we should not condone these actions. Towards the end of her essay Hursthouse talks about human-centeredness. At least in Aristotelian virtue ethics humans and their pursuit of eudaimonia is the ultimate good. Given this it would seem difficult to ascribe intrinsic value to the environment, yet, we can and should. Since the environment has a direct impact on human life and society to use it simply as a means without regard for its ultimate wellbeing would have negative impact on other humans. Thus, if we are to be virtuous towards other humans we must take care of the…show more content…
Hursthouse has strong arguments that cannot be easily countered without proving that animals can’t feel pain. The only thing I take issue with is her response to vegetarianism in social settings. She gives the example of a dinner party in which the hosts are aware that the agent is vegetarian, but choose not to accommodate their diet. In this case, it seems that an unvirtuous action has been performed by the hosts, even so, it seems the virtuous action is not to refuse the food as Hursthouse suggests. Given that the harm has already been done (the animal has already suffered and been prepared as food) it would be a disservice to not eat the animal and cause unnecessary contention between the agent and the host. I suggest that in this case the agent should eat the meat, in a prudent manner let the hosts know that they prefer not to eat meat, and if the situation happens again at a future dinner still partake but not return after this instance (since the hosts are not respecting their choice to be vegetarian). The first action (eating the provided meat) shows the virtue of respect towards the animals sacrifice and tact in the social situation. The second shows courage by expressing your vegetarianism, and the third shows the virtue of patience with the host as well as possible perseverance if they do not respect your
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