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Do species matter morally

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There has been a heated debate in the field of ethics concerning the morality attached to animals that has raised many questions on whether ethics and morality do apply in animal species. This poses a question on whether we should treat animals just like other inanimate objects. In addition, since species are not objects and not human beings, how then should moral apply to then? Do they have mind and power of reason to differentiate between right and wrong? Do the species really have legal rights and what measures do law enforcers take to ensure that animals are fully granted their rights. It is upon answering these questions that we can fully reveal the mystery that is underlined in the species morality. Even before answering the question a look at current conservation by environmentalists gives a glimpse idea that these species really matter morally. It is undoubtedly that we see the loss or extinction of some rare species in the ecosystem as wrong but we need to ask ourselves what kind of wrong it is. Drawing our reference from standard of liberation animals we can argue that is it not reasonable to treat animal differently based on species (Brett, 2011).

One claim on the species morality was proposed by philosopher Joel Feinberg argues that we as human beings have the obligation to preserve species as mandate by god since creation (Bekoff, 2007). He says that this obligation is superior to any other right held by an individual animal. Furthermore, this duty does arise from any reason or claim that may be attributed to any person or a group of existing reasons. The Bible being the source of ethic, charges human beings with duty of stewardship whereby our duty to preserve species extents to future generation. We usually preserve the present animals from extinction in orders to protect the unborn animals.it therefore become an issue of the right and wrong for instance, killing an animal indiscriminately is morally wrong and against animal rights. Although some philosopher argue that no morals area attached to animals since they do not possess interest, it is disputed on the grounds that their interest rests in human being who are the stewards of all kind of natures and has the obligation of protecting and preserving (Clowney & Mosto, 2009).

Drawing argument from anthropocentric perspective, different species have value which may either be ecological or economical. However when interpreting this we encounter two conflicting issues regarding conservation and preservation of different species. When preserve the current species we play a stewardship role by protecting even the unborn animals. On contrary leaving the animals to die and get extinct, which is morally wrong create room for survival of other species. Russell argue that if the sole purpose is to ensure ecological diversity, negative implicating are expected since we will enter up diversifying ecological diversity instead of maintaining diversity which is accordance with conservationists goals (Bekoff, 2007).

In relation to general ethics and animals rights, we observe that some species have been termed as rare and their killing outlawed by authorities mandated to protect such animals. As a result if the major question is what value does such species have that protects it from killing? Does its rarity in the habitat constitute a kind of intrinsic value? If seem that the facts that a specie exists in the habitat gives it some value that makes its killing wrong and even destruction of an resources that may directly or indirectly compromise its survival. In this matter the morals restricting killing of certain species is drawn from the rarity of species and the fact that people want to see the species walk free in the habitat. Clowney & Mosto, 2009).

Therefore, different species have different rights depending on their rarity. However, these right seem to be different to they are perceived as to be different. For example, if a species like the white rhino has been declared endangered species making its killing illegal, does the law then legalize the killing of common animals like gazelles. It can clearly be seen that species have matter in morality and their killing for whatever reason is against ethical standards (Bekoff, 2007). Species are not killed because it is ethical but due to circumstances that permit violation of such ethical standards to preserve other species.

Our duty towards protection of species is parallel with our obligation not to cause any unwelcome injury or unnecessary pain to an animal. The perception that animals have rights and human beings have duties towards the animals is quite welcome and undebatable fact. As Russell argues we do not protect precise because of their perceive value but as a duty and obligation towards them (Clowney & Mosto, 2009). Additionally, there are millions of animals in existence but are not known to human beings. However, when they are discovered, even before their value has been established we tend to place a lot of emphasize on their protection and preservation not due their rarity but as our moral duty. Therefore it is the moral duty we have towards these species that gives those rights and presents obligations on part of human beings.

In a broad spectrum, it is worth noting that scholars in the field of animal ethics have done much to establish the realism of the rights of animals, their obligation as well as their duties in the real world (Russow, 2010). Essentially, the main concern being that most individuals in the human world have diverse perceptions on the roles and the obligations of different species (Clowney & Mosto, 2009). As a matter of fact, human beings should accord concern and adoration of the animal world by treating all animals in the same manner as well irrespective their contribution to the sustainability of human nature. For instance, philosophers in this field argue that it equal to kill a blue whale with killing a California condor. This is a general philosophy that is based on the belief that not critics the saying “not all species have an ecological value” (In Carlson & In Lintott, 2008).

There is a need to believe that species matter morally if human beings do not portray the same in their deeds. Therefore, as discussed above, it is of great importance for all human activities to take into account the need to react ethically, towards increasing the number of species in the world by protecting them from their natural predators as well as establishing basic breeding colonies that will ensure the individual species are secure and receive their moral rights. However, in some cases, doing all the above does not serve all the ethics of all species (Russow, 1981). The general lives of some of them may be interfered with an aspect that may make the human efforts worthless.

According to Russow (1981), some of the human treatments to individual animals can be unethical but if done for the better of a large group of species may be morally acceptable. Inherently, if the views of many on the issue conclude that the action are morally correct, the human duties to conserve certain species should not be based on the obligation that human beings have towards the specific species. It is therefore thought that the essence of treating the individual obligation use is not cognizable because the endeavor is totally fruitless. As a matter of fact, some individual efforts and actions are based on giving some species more moral rights than others by treating them as loftier super entities.

According to Schmidtz (2002), human beings cannot table the discussion of the moral rights of species without the consideration of societal beliefs, humane personal desires as well as in consideration of the general purposeful actions. Nevertheless, the chief idea here is that human beings do acknowledge that most of the interests they develop towards such mainly develop from the perception that animals have their own right sand that human nature have the responsibility towards maintaining and enriching the species lives (Diehm, 2012). It is worth recognizing that we have a role as well as significant duties towards all of them and the mainstream of all human actions should apply to all.

For the establishment of the reality about this situation, it is of significance to eliminate the belief, similarity and the parallelism that human beings do not have the responsibility to eliminate any unwarranted pains in the lives of animals (O’Neil, 1997). Therefore, the human world should be driven by the desire and the ethical belief of that animals have a valuable life too. The driving factor towards maintaining the lives and upholding the moral rights of this species being that the main individual efforts to do so arise from the fact that human beings work hard to keep and maintain what is valuable.

There are various reasons as to why species should be treated morally. First, human beings should consider the uncontroversial fact that they are very different when compared to any other species (Diehm, 2012). However, for the purpose of sustainability, the human beings as well as the environment in general require the contribution of almost all species to balance the needs of nature. This serves as a basic ideology that the morality of all species should be based on as far as their protection and their general rights is concerned. Therefore, human beings should serve as the agents of fighting extinction of every species through the moral accordance of their individual moral rights. In fact, human beings should stand on the belief that attempts to ascribe on the extrinsic significance of a particular species should not be based on the potential contribution of fellow beings (Tanner, 2013). Everybody must take a binding responsibility in ensuring the validity of all actions towards animals.

According to Charles Darwin, some of the species that are common in the eyes of the common man are very essential in molding the human evolution as they are significant members of the evolutionary chain (Mitchell & Thompson, 2006). More importantly, it is important to take the aspect in a bigger perspective as any extinction of a critical member of the evolution cycle would slow down the human development and may take time to replace the extinct member (Elliot, 1997). This is a basic foundation in the building the intellectual beings of all individuals as it pushes for the preservation and protection of the moral aspect of all species. In addition, the human world should consider the essence of all species in the making of the natural order. On the other hand, it is advisable that human beings should work towards securing a place for all species irrespective of their importance in the general ecosystems by upholding the moral stance of any species an endeavor that can only work if the intrinsic importance of every animal is considered.

According to Diehm (2012), one of the main issue of concern to environmental activists is the issue of species extinction. Essentially, most of them see any potential loss of a species in the environment as a big blow to sustainability. Therefore, on this perspective Russow (1981), argues that it is only though applying moral reasoning that the preservation, conservation and the general protection of these species can be fruitful. Most importantly, the moral thinking here should be a fundamental dimension that must driven by assuming that all species are equal and measure to protect them should be equal in all ways (Schmidtz, 2002).

In conclusion, it should be understood that all living things in the world’s living environment are important and every species is symbiotically important in the conservation of the world’s nature including shaping the human life. Therefore, human beings have the responsibility to protect the biodiversity by being generally obliged to preserving species from any perceived or real interference by the human activities. The other foundation to the desired preservation should not be based on the ideology that some individual species have an inherent value when compared with others. All should be treated equally. In addition, the human cognizance of the environmental, economic as well as the biological significance of biodiversity should be a driving factor for the human preservation, conservation and general protection of species. Briefly, species do matter morally.


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In Carlson, A., & In Lintott, S. (2008). Nature, Aesthetics, and Environmentalism: From Beauty to Duty. New York: Columbia University Press.

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Clowney, D., & Mosto, P. (2009). Earthcare: An anthology in environmental ethics. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Russow, L. M. (1981). Why do species matter?. Environmental Ethics, 3(2), 101-112.

Schmidtz, D. (2002). Environmental ethics: what really matters, what really works.

O’Neil, R. (1997). Intrinsic value, moral standing, and species. Environmental Ethics, 19(1), 45-52.

Diehm, C. (2012). Finding a Niche for Species in Nature Ethics. Ethics & the Environment, 17(1), 71-86.

Russow, L. M. (2010). Reasoning. In Life Science Ethics (pp. 31-66). Springer Netherlands.

Tanner, J. (2013). Contractarianism and Secondary Direct Moral Standing for Marginal Humans and Animals. Res Publica, 19(2), 141-156.

Mitchell, R. W., & Thompson, N. S. (Eds.). (2006). Deception: Perspectives on human and nonhuman deceit. SUNY Press.

Elliot, R. (1997). Faking nature: the ethics of environmental restoration. Psychology Press.

Bekoff, M. (2007). Animals matter: A biologist explains why we should treat animals with compassion and respect. Boston: Shambhala.

Clowney, D., & Mosto, P. (2009). Earth care: An anthology in environmental ethics. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

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