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A Critique on Recent Catholic Magisterium’s Thinking on Animal Ethics

Lookup NU author(s): Mx Jan Deckers


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In recent times, the Catholic Church magisterium published two influential texts with some significance for animal ethics: the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the encyclical letter Laudato Si’. These texts are scrutinised here, focusing on the human consumption of animals for food. Whilst the concept of ‘intrinsic value’ is applied to nonhuman animals, there is no rigorous analysis of what this concept might mean and of what its recognition might imply for our relationships with nonhuman animals. This is problematic. Here, I provide much needed clarity, which has been lacking in the (animal) ethics literature in general, in relation to the concept of ‘intrinsic value’. I also reject the strong anthropocentric perspective that underpins these Catholic texts, wherein nonhuman animals are valued almost exclusively instrumentally. The alternative, weak anthropocentric perspective that I sketch recognises animals’ intrinsic values and demands qualified moral veganism, which is defended against five potential criticisms.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Deckers J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Dilemata

Year: 2022

Volume: 39

Pages: 33-49

Online publication date: 02/09/2022

Acceptance date: 02/09/2022

ISSN (electronic): 1989-7022

Publisher: Dilemata