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An evolutionary point of view of animal ethics

By François Criscuolo, Cédric Sueur

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The observation that animals may respond to the emotional states of conspecific or even heterospecific individuals is not new. After more than one century, the need to define what exactly non-human animals are able to feel and—from this starting point—rethink the legal status and place of animals in human societies is becoming increasingly necessary. In this article, we aimed to raise the incongruity of defining animals from a human point of view. We have proposed an alternative non-anthropocentric view of how thinking of animal beings from an evolutionary perspective may help us to redefine animal ethics. Evolutionary ethics defines how we should behave with relation to human heterospecific living beings by freeing us from human-based cultural or emotional considerations. We have proposed that animal ethics (principally based on individuals) cannot be distinguished from environmental ethics, and evolutionary ethics may therefore also help us to solve the paradoxical position of humankind concerning biodiversity; we know that we are doing wrong, but, by doing wrong, we have promoted, thus far, the survival and propagation of our own species. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

Publication Title Frontiers in Psychology
Volume 11
ISBN/ISSN 1664-1078
Publisher Frontiers Media S.A.
DOI 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00403
Notes Universite de Strasbourg, CNRS, IPHC UMR 7178, Strasbourg, France. Other Publishers: Frontiers Research Foundation. Release Date: 20200430. Publication Type: Journal (0100), Peer Reviewed Journal (0110). Format Covered: Electronic. Document Type: Journal Article. Language: English. Major Descriptor: Animals; Biology; Conspecifics; Ethics; Interspecies Interaction. Minor Descriptor: Awareness; Empathy; Environment; Health; Theory of Evolution. Classification: Professional Ethics & Standards & Liability (3450). Population: Human (10); Animal (20). ArtID: 403. Issue Publication Date: Apr 2, 2020. Publication History: First Posted Date: Apr 2, 2020; Accepted Date: Feb 21, 2020; First Submitted Date: Jan 21, 2020. Copyright Statement: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms. Criscuolo and Sueur. 2020.
Author Address Criscuolo, François
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal ethics
  2. Animals
  3. Awareness
  4. Biology
  5. Conspecifics
  6. Empathy
  7. Environment
  8. Ethics
  9. Evolution
  10. Health
  11. Human-animal relationships
  12. Interspecies interactions
  13. One Health
  14. sentience