Led On Line
Presentazione - About us
Novita' - What's new
Lededizioni Home Page Ricerca - Search
Catalogo - Catalogue
Per contattarci - Contacts
Per gli Autori - For the Authors
Statistiche - Statistics
Cookie Policy
Privacy Policy

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.

Full Text:



Cowen, Tyler (2003), “Policing Nature”, Environmental Ethics, 25, 169-182.

Donaldson, Sue & Kymlicka, Will (2011), Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights, New York: Oxford University Press.

Faria, Catia, “Equality, priority, and nonhuman animals”, Dilemata, 14, 2014, 225-236.

Holtug, Nils (2007), “Equality for animals”, in Ryberg, Jesper; Petersen, Thomas S. & Wolf, Clark (eds.), New waves in applied ethics, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, 1-24.

Horta, Oscar (2010a), “What is speciesism?”, The Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 23, 2010, 243-266.

Horta, Oscar, (2010b) “Debunking the idyllic view of natural processes: population dynamics and suffering in the wild”, Télos, 17, 2010, 73-88.

Horta, Oscar (2013) “Zoopolis, Intervention, and the State or Nature”, Law, Ethics and Philosophy, 1, 113-25.

McMahan, Jeff (2010) “The meat eaters”, The New York Times, September 19, 2010.

Ng, Yew-Kwang, “Towards welfare biology: evolutionary economics of animal consciousness and suffering”, Biology and Philosophy, 10 (3), 1995, 255-285.

Palmer, Clare (2010), Animal Ethics in Context, New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.

Palmer, Clare (2013), “What (if anything) do we owe wild animals?”, Between the Species, 16 (1), 15-38.

Palmer, Clare (2015), “Against the view that we are usually required to assist wild animals”, Relations, 3 (2), forthcoming.

Persson, Ingmar (1993), “A Basis for (Interspecies) Equality”, The Great Ape Project: Equality Beyond Humanity, P. Cavalieri & P. Singer (eds.), New York, St. Martin’s Press, 183-193.

Pianka, Erci R. (1970), “On r- and K-selection”, The American Naturalist, 104, 592-597.

Sapontzis, Steve F. (1987), Morals, Reason, and Animals, Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Tomasik, Brian (2015), “The importance of wild animals suffering”. Foundational Research Institute. http://foundational-research.org/publications/importance-of-wild-animal-suffering/

Tomasik, Brian (2014), “How many animals are there?”, Essays on Reducing Suffering. http://reducing-suffering.org/how-many-wild-animals-are-there/

Tomasik, Brian (2015), “The Importance of Wild Animals Suffering”. Foundational Research Institute. http://foundational-research.org/publications/importance-of-wildanimal-suffering/

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

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

Executive Editor: Matteo Andreozzi
Associate Editors: Rod Bennison - Alma Massaro - Kim Stallwood - Jessica Ulrich
Review Editors: Sofia Bonicalzi - Eleonora Adorni
Editorial Board:
Ralph R. Acampora - Carol J. Adams - Matthew R. Calarco - Gabriele Cambiotti - Piergiorgio Donatelli - Arianna Ferrari - William Grove-Fanning - Serenella Iovino - Joel MacClellan - Dario Martinelli - Roberto Marchesini - Barbara Muraca - Serpil Oppermann - Piergiacomo Pagano - Paola Sobbrio - Sabrina Tonutti