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Disentangling Obligations of Assistance. A Reply to Clare Palmer’s “Against the View That We Are Usually Required to Assist Wild Animals”

Catia Faria


Animals are sentient individuals. They can be harmed and benefited by what happens to them. A significant number of nonhuman animals live under human control, yet the overwhelming majority of them live in the wild (Tomasik 2014). Many of the harms wild animals endure are due to natural events, rather than to human agency. Given the means at our disposal, wild animal suffering could be, to some extent, prevented or, at least, alleviated. This raises the question of whether we are morally required to intervene in nature to assist them or, alternatively, whether we may permissibly choose not to. Clare Palmer is one of the few philosophers who directly tackles this problem 1, answering it from the relational account of the moral consideration of nonhuman animals which she has developed (2010, 2013, 2015). As it can be surmised from her contribution to this issue, her claim is that we are not usually required to assist wild animals. However, we may be permitted to do so.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/rela-2015-002-fari

Copyright (c) 2018 Catia Faria – Editorial format and Graphical layout: copyright (©) LED Edizioni Universitarie

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 - Vilma Baricalla - Luisella Battaglia - Rod Bennison - Matthew R. Calarco - Piergiorgio Donatelli - William Grove-Fanning - Serenella Iovino - Luigi Lombardi Vallauri - Christoph Lumer - Joel MacClellan - Dario Martinelli - Roberto Marchesini - Alma Massaro - Barbara Muraca - Serpil Oppermann - Simone Pollo - Paola Sobbrio - Kim Stallwood - Sabrina Tonutti - Jessica Ullrich - Federico Zuolo