Caring: A Relational Approach to Ethics and Moral Education

By Nel Noddings | Go to book overview

7
CARING FOR ANIMALS,
PLANTS, THINGS
AND IDEAS

OUR RELATION WITH ANIMALS

AN ETHIC GROUNDED in the natural caring of ordinary life must consider our relation to animals. For us, there is no absolute source of life, meaning, and morality that separates the species neatly according to some preordained value hierarchy. We are not given dominion over the beasts of the land. Further, there are intellectual reasons for examining our relation to animals. The problems we struggle with as we do so shed further light on the questions we have already considered, and we may find deeper support for our contention that the ethical impulse or attitude is grounded in the caring relation.

A third reason for exploring our relation to animals is simply that many of us experience in our encounters with animals feelings very like those we are familiar with in genuinely ethical situations. We need to account for these feelings and come to grips with the question whether our relation to animals can ever be properly described as having an ethical aspect. Are we obliged to promote the welfare of animals? Are we obliged to refrain from inflicting pain upon them?

Finally, we live in an age when many in our society have become crusaders for animals rights. There are those who become vegetarians, fight to protect whales and seals, refuse to neuter their pets in order to protect their “rights” to natural sex lives, and act to prevent the building of dams, power plants, and roads in order to preserve odd creatures like the snail darter. Clearly, these people at least care about the creatures under discussion, and an ethic built on caring must consider the possibility that

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Caring: A Relational Approach to Ethics and Moral Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Preface to the 2013 Edition xiii
  • Preface to the 2003 Edition xxi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Why Care about Caring? 7
  • 2 - The One-Caring 30
  • 3 - The Cared-for 59
  • 4 - An Ethic of Caring 79
  • 5 - Construction of the Ideal 104
  • 6 - Enhancing the Ideal- Joy 132
  • 7 - Caring for Animals, Plants, Things and Ideas 148
  • 8 - Moral Education 171
  • Afterword 203
  • Notes 209
  • Select Bibliography 219
  • Index 223
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