Comment: Caring for Captive Communities by Looking for Love and Loneliness, or Against an Overly Individualist Liberal Animal Ethics

Driessen, C.P.G.


Animal ethics in its liberal, analytic style of academic writing can suffer from a form of excessive individualism that lacks a full view of life as experienced by many animals. A range of arguments against using and enclosing animals, or in favour of certain (pre)conditions of captivity, can be found to have a tendency to focus on generic and isolated individual organisms. In its most extreme form, this type of ethical thought sets up a truncated notion of the animal as separate from their conspecifics, limits animal interests to the desires of solipsistic individuals, fails to appreciate meaning that may emerge in human-animal relations , and renders invisible a range of concerns of animal ethics in view of the communal character of animal lives. Through a critical reading of the previous four chapters, this one will trace the extent to which reasoning in terms of welfare, freedom, capabilities or dignity may lead to granting attention and value to (many) animals as the idiosyncratic, relational, sociable beings which many of them are. Or can be, even in captivity , and even in the age of humans.