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Humans’ Best Friend? The Ethical Dilemma of Pets

Matteo Andreozzi


The main aim of this paper is to demonstrate the need for a reassessment of the moral status of pets. I argue that pets rest on an undefined ethical borderline, which brings several puzzling problems to both human-centered ethics and animal ethics and that neither of these fields adequately handles these issues. I focus specifically on human relationships with companion animals as one of the most significant interspecific relationship involving humans and pets. I also show that a deeper questioning of the moral status of pets is a required step toward the moral rethinking of human-animal relationships.


Pets; companion animals; animal welfare; animal liberation; animal rights; impartialism; partialism; intrinsic value; special duties; relational ethics; contextual ethics.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/rela-2013-002-andr

Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (04/05/2012 n. 211)
Online ISSN 2280-9643 - Print ISSN 2283-3196

Executive Editor: Francesco Allegri
Associate Editor: Matteo Andreozzi 
Review Editors: Sofia Bonicalzi - Eleonora Adorni
Editorial Board:
Ralph R. Acampora - Carol J. Adams - Rod Bennison - Matthew R. Calarco - Piergiorgio Donatelli - William Grove-Fanning - Serenella Iovino - Joel MacClellan - Dario Martinelli - Roberto Marchesini - Alma Massaro - Barbara Muraca - Serpil Oppermann - Simone Pollo - Paola Sobbrio - Kim Stallwood - Sabrina Tonutti - Jessica Ullrich - Federico Zuolo