Kant's Argument On The Moral Value Of Zoos

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The Morality of Zoos Zoos provide an important service to the environment as well as to society. It is a crucial part of this service to consider the welfare of animals being kept in these institutions and the ethics of whether zoos should be run at all is a widely debated ethical issue. I shall demonstrate that zoos are morally permissible, but not solely for people’s enjoyment; there should be some benefit to the species. I shall be evaluating the strength of some arguments around this issue put forward by Scruton and others. Scruton puts forward a utilitarian argument for zoos. In his argument he starts with the premise that what creates the most happiness and social benefit is right. Keeping animals in zoos creates more social benefit…show more content…
He disagrees with the consequentialist theory of utilitarianism. Instead he advocates that our duties towards animals are indirect duties towards people. He first starts his argument by stating the animals are not conscious of themselves and so animals are means rather than ends. Humans, by comparison, are ends in themselves. We only hold duties to other beings that are ends yet we have a duty not to be cruel to animals because it prevents our capacity for decency. As we only hold direct duties towards humans our duty towards animals must be an indirect duty towards humans. This conclusion Kant reaches means we may use animals as means to ourselves. Therefore we are justified in keeping animals in zoos providing we aren’t treating them cruelly. As animals are capable of feeling pain but not capable of behaving rationally they are analogues of humans. This means that animals are different from other means we use, namely material objects. Kant’s argument is valid. When considering the morality of zoos it is important to consider Kant’s principle that we should not be cruel to animals. The definition of cruelty is very difficult. One could argue that it is sufficient to feed an animal and provide it shelter, whereas another would argue that it is cruel to not provide an animal with a close simulation of their natural habitat. Some would go even further to say that the act of keeping an animal in captivity is cruel…show more content…
Animals should be kept in zoos for greater reasons than enjoyment. The argument for zoos to increase social benefit put forward by Scruton is not a strong case for keeping animals in zoos. Kant’s argument that we have indirect duties towards animals is a strong argument for keeping animals in zoos so long as we are acting with compassion and preventing cruelty. The final argument was not convincing either, animal’s happiness should not be considered on the same level as human happiness. This means that when keeping animals in captivity we must aim to make them as fulfilled as possible but only because of our obligations to animals as secondary members of our moral

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