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Home arrow Environment arrow Pets and People: The Ethics of Our Relationships with Companion Animals

Conclusion

I conclude by reiterating what I am not attempting to establish in this chapter. While I have emphasized the way in which a concept of relational autonomy and a care ethics framework help to better understand the moral harms of pet cloning, I am not arguing that the kinds of concerns addressed by utilitarian or Kantian theories are misplaced. On the contrary, those approaches to the pet cloning debate highlight concerns that must be taken very seriously. I am also not claiming that humans who elect to clone their pets are morally bad, since the desire to do so arises from the most understandable response to the loss of a loved one. Furthermore, I am not suggesting that those who countenance spending enormous sums of money on cloning their animal companions should be barred from doing so, since such an argument requires us to critique any number of ways that individuals elect to spend their wealth.

What I am arguing, however, is that cloning companion animals leads to erroneous thinking about the meaning and value of relationships, which does damage to our understanding of ourselves and those with whom we stand in relationship. The moral harms associated with the practice of pet cloning are, furthermore, transferable to our attitudes and beliefs about other relationships in which we are engaged, including human relationships. Expanding markets into the affective area of human life is morally problematic because it renders fungible those relationships that should be seen as unique, and it allows market norms and attitudes to bleed into them. It also sidelines important human emotions such as grief and loss, and represents a refusal to countenance our finitude, as both human and non-human animals. This is an undesirable implication of the practice that has been poorly acknowledged by the scientists and bioethicists who have been working in this area, and that I argue renders the practice unethical.

 
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