This thesis presents an Australian-oriented cross-cultural study of attitudes towards non-human animal species. It is divided into three sections. In the first section, ideas and considerations of five Australian philosophers - H.J. McCloskey, John Passmore, Peter Singer, and Val Plumwood and Richard Sylvan - are surveyed. This section is divided into three parts: morally relevant characteristics, arguments for recognizing moral consideration, and calls for new ethics. In the first part, the possibility of non-human animals possessing morally relevant characteristics such as interests, self-awareness, moral autonomy, rationality and a soul are considered and doubt is cast on these characteristics being exclusive to humans. In the second part, instrumental, prudential, and extension arguments and rights are considered. Advantages and disadvantages of each type of argument are given. In the third part, deep green theory and deep ecology are considered as answers to calls for a new environmental ethic. In the second section, attitudes and practices of Australian Aborigines are given. This section is also divided into three parts: an overview of Aboriginal attitudes and worldviews, the attitudes and practices of the Wik of North Queensland, and the attitudes and practices of the Aranda of central Australia. In each of these parts the ways in which Aborigines relate to their environment and non-human animal species is considered within the framework of the four-fold relationship of people, landscape, ancestral beings, and totemism. The third section is a discussion of what Aboriginal attitudes and practices can contribute to the resolution of some of the problems presented in the first section. It is concluded that Aboriginal attitudes and practices can do little to solve the problems of non-Aborigines, if non-Aborigines remain within the current dominate social paradigm. Aborigines can provide inspiration for changes. Principally, this is inspiration for developing an alternative environmentally-oriented paradigm, rather than inspiration for changes in specific practices.
|Degree||Doctor of Philosophy|
|University||Australian National University|
|Cite this work||
Researchers should cite this work as follows: