Do we really have the right to own our fellow creatures? Are there some animals that should never be kept as pets? Is it okay to declaw a cat, clip a bird’s wings, or dock a dog's tail? These are some of the questions we're asking on this week's show.
What is it
Many of us, even the staunchest animal activists, usually take it for granted that keeping a pet is morally acceptable. But regardless of how well we treat our animal “companions,” by keeping pets we are declaring ownership and paternal authority over other living creatures, and confining them to our homes. Is there any good moral justification for the keeping of pets? What makes some, if any, animals suitable as pets but not others? Do we have a special obligation to animal companions that does not extend to other animals? The Philosophers fetch Gary Varner from Texas A&M University, author of Personhood, Ethics, and Animal Cognition.