[Man and his fellow-creatures under ethical aspects] [Article in German]

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Petra Mayr
Regina Binder
Silke Bitz
Gieri Bolliger
Andreas Brenner
Arianna Ferrari
Franz P. Gruber
Claus Günzler
Roman Kolar
Ingrid Kuhlmann-Eberhart
Erwin Lengauer
Jörg Luy
Silke Schicktanz
Felix Wirz
Jean-Claude Wolf


The number of publications that critically deal with the relationship between human beings and animals is still increasing continuously. That is a welcome development, as it reflects the vibrant debate of almost all scientific disciplines on this ethically relevant subject, which we would like to take up here. The cornerstone of a literature report in a natural science journal like ALTEX was laid ten years ago by Gotthard M. Teutsch. By doing this he opened the borders between the natural sciences and the humanities at a time when interdisciplinary thinking was by far not as well established as it is now. To do justice to
the variety of specialist discussions and the heterogeneity of the different argumentations, the working group "Literature report" has decided to include further members from other, not yet represented disciplines, such as ethology or sociology. The goal is to provide the insight of the specialist but also a broad overview of a large palette of current publications on the subject of human-animal relations. This also includes reviews of selected English language publications in both English and German. To do justice to the different individual perspectives, books that are of special interest may also be reviewed by more than one person. A short overview highlighting some aspects illuminates the core subjects and demonstrates the tendencies of the current debate:
In the category "Tierschutz allgemein" (Animal protection in general), it is shown how Manfred Karremann in his book "Sie haben uns behandelt wie Tiere" (They treated us like animals) tries to prise open the human mechanism of repression of emotions. He documents how the dominant scientific interests lead to the brutal handling of animals. The ecological arguments for justifying hunting are questioned by the biologist and former
hunter Karl-Heinz Loske in his book entitled „Von der Jagd und den Jägern - Bruder Tier und sein Recht zu leben."(Of hunting and hunters – brother animal and his right to live). Jeffrey M. Masson and Jonathan Balcombe, both ethologists, concentrate on the little researched emotions of animals. They favour the emotional commonalities between human beings and animals as a basis for moral considerateness. In the area of "Philosophical ethics" Peter Singer and Jim Mason document in their book "The way we eat. Why our food choices matter" the ethical and ecological dimensions of consuming meat. In addition, they call attention to the poor working conditions of those who work in the area of animal husbandry and processing. Under the title "Bioethik zwischen Natur und Interesse" (Bioethics between nature and interest) Dieter Birnbacher has published a study that concentrates on his most important assays of the last years on current bioethical
questions. The ethics of reverence formulated by Albert Schweizer are still a central topic of current discourse and Schweitzer’s position is still widely received. Two reviews of the book "Albert Schweitzer. Ehrfurcht vor den Tieren" (Albert Schweitzer. Reverence for animals) give detailed evaluations from different perspectives. The publications of Markus Wild,
"Die anthropologische Differenz. Der Geist der Tiere in der frühen Neuzeit bei Montaigne, Descartes und Hume" (The anthropological difference. The spirit of animals in early modern times by Montaigne, Descartes and Hume) and his book that was co-authored by Dominik Perler, represent a philosophicalhistorical perspective on what distinguishes humans from animals. Like the publication by Giorgio Agamben "Das Offene: Der Mensch und das Tier" (The Open - Man and Animal) they point out the problem of the animal-human definition. In the category "Rechtsfragen und Rechtsentwicklung "(Legal questions
and developments) Michael Fischer shows astonishing insights into the historical changes in the legal status of animals in „Tierstrafen und Tierprozesse - zur sozialen Konstruktion
von Rechtssubjekten" (Animal penalties and animal litigation – on the social construction of legal bodies). Linda Birke, Arnold Arluke and Mike Michael throw the spotlight on an aspect of animal experiments that is seldom an issue of discussion. In their study "The Sacrifice. How Scientific Experiments Transform Animals and People" they change the perspective and illuminate the occupational socialisation of scientists and so develop an explanation for their pragmatic approach to handling laboratory animals.
All in all the literature on the human-animal relationship shows a tendency that also reflects the social value horizon. Both animals and humans are perceived mainly as commodities, whose concrete emotions are subordinate to the abstract term "profitability" with the consequence that the ambivalences in the handling of pets versus livestock have become more pronounced.

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How to Cite
Mayr, P., Binder, R., Bitz, S., Bolliger, G., Brenner, A., Ferrari, A., Gruber, F. P., Günzler, C., Kolar, R., Kuhlmann-Eberhart, I., Lengauer, E., Luy, J., Schicktanz, S., Wirz, F. and Wolf, J.-C. (2007) “[Man and his fellow-creatures under ethical aspects] [Article in German]”, ALTEX - Alternatives to animal experimentation, 24(4), pp. 279-315. Available at: https://www.altex.org/index.php/altex/article/view/727 (Accessed: 28November2020).
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