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date: 12 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article defines “pets” as nonhuman animals that people take into their homes and accept as members of the household. It assumes that cats and dogs are happy living in human households and have better lives than they would if they were in the wild. There is welcomed companionship and often a genuine friendship across species. There can of course be many failures and problems such as animal aggression and human cruelty and neglect. In some circumstances, the fact that humans can understand in ways their pets cannot creates a situation in which we should require more of ourselves in the way of care and patience than we would require in the case of a competent adult human. It suggests that it is a mistake to regard duties to nonhuman animals as situated in a hierarchy of moral status in which animals with high-level capacities occupy a higher rank.

Keywords: nonhuman animals, cats, dogs, household pets, animal aggression, moral status

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