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Anderson, Sara, 2016. Animal ethics between theory and praxis : exploring differential ethical standards toward wildlife. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development



In today’s human-impacted landscape with increasing encounters between the human and natural world it is essential to question humans’ ethical approaches toward animals to ensure a peaceful co-existence. The presence of wolf and its consequences in Sweden is a well-studied case focusing primarily on conflict, mistrust toward authority and a rural and urban divide, for example. This study aim to reveal other aspect of the issue by scrutinizing the explanatory power of existing perspectives within Animal Rights Theory (ART) and bring in social constructivism to unravel gray-scales in the respondents ethical codes. Empirics where collected through in-depth interviews with 11 hunters and livestock-owners in the middle part of Sweden. The study investigate how the respondents construct animals and create and discuss criteria for moral status vis-à-vis other animals they encounter. Also investigated, how these ethical codes toward different animals effect praxis, defined as how we relate to, communicate about and manage the animal in question. Key-conclusions include that the respondents are not consistently bound to one of the outlined perspectives within ART when constructing their ethical codes and there seem to be a discrepancy between their baseline-ethics and actual application of those ethics to different animals. When animals transgress from their perceived natural place in the wild closer to human settlement and pose a threat to livelihoods it seem to affect their moral status. Their liminal status may imply the justification of stretching ethics toward the animal. The respondents seem to ascribe a “veto-right” to humans in the negotiations over right to territory. The respondents valuing of the balance in the ecosystem and idea of themselves as stewards of the ecosystem integrity seem to involve “keeping the wild, wild” and regulating “undesirable behavior”. Therefore the wild animals’ transgression from the wild may signify a failure in the stewardship role, motivating sanctions toward the animal. Social constructivism has provided the perspective that humans’ ethical codes are dependent on context and social interaction, and that language can function as a powerful conveyer of ideas and cast attributions to animals which in turn has effect on praxis. Combined with Donaldson and Kymlicka’s (2011) political framework, social constructivism can be used to question the social construction of citizenship - and not the least the citizen as someone human – and the wolves and other wild animals’ rights in the political and spatial context. Hence, challenging the current praxis of environmental management. Social constructivism can provide a framework that can open up to accommodate “inconsistencies” in humans’ construction of ethical codes by not being as rigid as the perspectives within ART and taking context and communication into account.

Main title:Animal ethics between theory and praxis
Subtitle:exploring differential ethical standards toward wildlife
Authors:Anderson, Sara
Supervisor:Von Essen, Erica
Examiner:Nordström Källström, Helena
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2016
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:NM026 Environmental communication and management - Master's programme
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
Keywords:ART, social constructivism, ethical codes, environmental communication, wolf
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Agricultural research
Social sciences, humanities and education
Deposited On:19 Feb 2016 12:16
Metadata Last Modified:19 Feb 2016 12:16

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