[Man and his fellow-creatures under ethical aspects. Literary report 1999/2000, No.22] [Article in German]

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Gotthard M. Teutsch
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Preceding the detailed literary review, here a few events, topics and publications for the busy reader including
The decision of the Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court) to declare unconstitutional and invalid chicken owner ordinances permitting caging
The decision of the German parliament to declare animal protection a national goal
Publication of a number of books which are likely to influence discussions for years to come since they bring to a close developments having emerged over an extended period of time. Without claiming to be exhaustive the following should be mentioned:
Marc Bekoff and Carron A. Meany, ed.: "Encyclopedia of animal rights and animal welfare", an extensive work being reviewed by Peter Thornton in chapter 3.6 of this report. For the first time, animal protection of the Anglo-American tradition is being summarised, in theory as well as in practice, and, on high standards: "The list of contributors reads like a Who's Who of experts in their chosen fields and includes philosophers such as Peter Singer, Tom Regan, Tom Beauchamp and Bernard Rollin and welfare scientists such as Don Broom, David Fraser, Temple Grandin. Others involved in examining the role of animals in society and our relationship with them, such as Andrew Linzey, Richard Ryder, James Serpell and David Morton (to name just a few), have also provided entries" (Peter Thornton).
The comprehensive monograph by Johannes Caspar: "Tierschutz im Recht der modernen Industriegesellschaft. Eine rechtliche Neukonstruktion auf philosophischer und historischer Grundlage" (Animal protection in the law of modern industrial society. A new legal construct on a philosophical and historical base) represents an extensive critical incorporation of animal protection in Germany under legal and ethical aspects including a detailed rendering of the actual treatment of animals. The term "critical incorporation" was used on purpose since cruelty to animals was never before presented in such completeness and thoroughness, together with the distance and objectivity originating in the legal stance.
The book is of invaluable significance in particular for the commentators of the German animal protection law as amended in 1998: For the first time, they are now in a position to draw from an abundance of facts and evaluations relevant to animal protection. It appears as a fortunate circumstance in this context, that not only the traditional Lorz-commentary is being continued (Albert Lorz and Ernst Metzger: "Tierschutzgesetz" [Animal Protection Law], commentary, 5th edition) but also a completely new commentary is being developed by the team of Hans Georg Kluge, ed., Antoine F. Goetschel, Jörg Hartung, Eisenhart von Loeper, Jost Dietrich Ort and Kerstin Reckwell: "Kommentar zum Tierschutzgesetz" (Commentary to the Animal Protection Law).
"Moral Status" is not only the title of an important investigation by Mary Anne Warren (in the introductory chapter she describes and evaluates the basics of the status-discussion to date) but also a topic singularly dominating the scientific discourse. Out of rejection or reservation regarding the biocentrical position of Albert Schweitzer or Paul W. Taylor, time after time new restricting concepts have been introduced. In the same way, the criterion of the ability to suffer as developed by Bentham was considered by some as too far reaching.
In considering animals ethically the line can be drawn so tightly that, aside from apes and maybe some large marine mammals, the whole of the animal kingdom can be degraded to at best, the ecological worthy resources of man; and all this without being suspected of an adversary position to animal protection. At times, the impression arises that science is seeking and finding ever new hurdles in order to keep the number of morally considered fellow-creatures as small as possible.
Following common opinion, even animals with moral status are only entitled to protection from pain or suffering but not from being killed, as long as it is performed without causing fear or pain. In the prevailing opinion, only animals demonstrating a conscious will to live have the right to be protected and not the host of "lower" animals who are granted only a kind of life-impulse. But why is a life-impulse so much less powerful, so much less worthy? Does not even an oyster summon up all of its force to defend itself, instinctively?
However, it is true that we cannot protect all of life or all animals to the same degree. But there is no sufficient reason to exclude this multitude of fellow-creatures from any consideration at all just because they are only demonstrating a life-impulse. Maybe, it would be meaningful to adopt a gradually increasing moral status, granted any living creature by virtue of its being alive. This would mean a protection from thoughtless and random harm and annihilation. This "biophilia", regarding all life as valuable (even if its protection varies in range), could reconcile two formally differing ethical positions:
pathocentrism, which presumes the ability to feel in all of life, and
biocentrism, intending to do justice to each life-form according to its abundance and intensity.

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How to Cite
Teutsch, G. M. (1999) “[Man and his fellow-creatures under ethical aspects. Literary report 1999/2000, No.22] [Article in German]”, ALTEX - Alternatives to animal experimentation, 16(4), pp. 211–254. Available at: https://www.altex.org/index.php/altex/article/view/1415 (Accessed: 21 July 2024).

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