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Just HierarchyWhy Social Hierarchies Matter in China and the Rest of the World$
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Daniel Bell and Wang Pei

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691200897

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691200897.001.0001

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Just Hierarchy between Humans and Animals

Just Hierarchy between Humans and Animals

Subordination Without Cruelty

(p.143) 4 Just Hierarchy between Humans and Animals
Just Hierarchy

Daniel A. Bell

Wang Pei

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers human relations with the animal kingdom. Throughout much of human history, most cultural and religious traditions—with some notable exceptions, such as Daoism—have valued humans over animals. The chapter presents the argument that it is morally justifiable to posit a moral hierarchy with humans on top, but only if accompanied by the principle that humans should not be cruel to animals. But the principle of “subordination without cruelty” is not sufficient to spell out the kinds of obligations we owe to animals. Humans have different kinds of relations with different animals, and the strongest obligations of care are owed to animals with human-like traits and that contribute most to human well-being. In the case of animals bred for human consumption, the chapter argues that such subordination is only justified if the animals are bred in humane conditions that are exceptionally rare in the modern world. Furthermore, the chapter states that we owe least to ugly animals that harm humans, but the principle of subordination without cruelty applies even in the case of the nastiest animals.

Keywords:   animals, human relations, animal kingdom, subordination, animal cruelty, human consumption, humane treatment

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