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Wildlife rights and human obligations

Kapembwa, J. (2017) Wildlife rights and human obligations. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

Despite exponential growth of the field of animal ethics, wildlife ethics has continued to be a fringe discussion. My thesis seeks to make a theoretical contribution by focusing only on human-induced harms to wild animals. I use the rights approach to investigate demands of wildlife justice on human behaviour and wildlife policy. I take rights to be the best normative resource for determining and evaluating just and unjust relations. Given the fundamental position of moral rights that I espouse, moral rights must constitute the core of an ethically sound wildlife policy. The analytical framework I deploy throughout the thesis consists of the Interest Theory of Rights couched in the Hohfeldian matrix of rights. This framework provides some insights for improving on the influential rights approach expounded by Tom Regan. I apply the adopted rights view to several important ethical conundrums. These include the institution of wildlife property; human interference in wildlife predation and wildlife population control; humanwildlife conflict; and state obligations to ensure wildlife justice. From the rights view, I conclude that wild animals are morally not human property and that they are in fact owners of their habitats and the natural goods on which their wellbeing depends. Humans are morally prohibited from killing predators or lethally controlling wildlife populations except in the unlikely event of preventing an ecological catastrophe. Furthermore, humans are permitted in their acts of self- or other- defence in those circumstances where the humans are innocent and are not morally liable. Policies and cultures that allow the killing of wildlife as a resource are unjust and therefore prohibited. Lastly, I contend that the responsibility for protecting wildlife lies with all states whose citizens, organisations, or corporations harm wildlife anywhere on earth. The diffuse and extraterritoriality of unjust harms to wild animals seems to require a cooperative international approach to securing wildlife rights.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Hooker, B. and Beadle, E.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Humanities
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Philosophy
ID Code:78228

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