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Virtue Ethics and Non-Human Animals: The Missing Link to the Animal Liberation Movement

1 May 2012


In this thesis, I will be arguing for a more balanced assessment for the protection and treatment of non-human animals while expanding our moral concern to include them. Currently, arguments for what has been coined ‘the animal liberation movement’ center around the act of the person toward the animal, yet the character of the person is neither questioned nor examined. It is through this concentration that the movement, and ultimately the animals, suffers. Classical virtue ethics fills in the gaps left by utilitarianism and deontology by shifting some of the attention away from the outcome to the source. Essentially, in order for positive change in the treatment, views, and protection of animals to occur more rapidly and thoroughly, we should begin focusing on curing the disease and not simply the symptoms. I will set an alternative approach to the movement by including virtue ethics, and from this inclusion will begin looking to the cycle of persons receiving their initial traits from role models and laws. By encouraging more emphasis on and bringing attention to what it means to be a virtuous person towards animals, a paradigm shift will gradually occur to include concern for animals in laws, parenting, and socially accepted beliefs and actions. It is within these structures we will find the biggest support in favor of animals and their treatment.


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