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Pampered or enslaved? the moral dilemmas of pets

Leslie Irvine (Department of Sociology, University of Colorado, Boulder)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 1 September 2004



This essay discusses whether the practice of keeping pets, defined as a class of animals existing for human purposes, is morally acceptable. Clouding the issue is the claim that humans have always had pets. Selected historical examples show that this is not the case. Instead, the doctrine of human supremacy has meant that close relationships with animals have often been ideologically impossible. Today, however, increasing knowledge about animals’ intellectual and emotional capacities blurs the once‐distinct boundary between humans and other animals. Given this knowledge, treatment of animals must also be reassessed. In particular, the essay argues that animals have the basic right not to be treated as the property of others. Although a world without pets is unpleasant to consider, the perpetuation of our pleasure is not sufficient reason to enslave other animals.



Irvine, L. (2004), "Pampered or enslaved? the moral dilemmas of pets", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 24 No. 9, pp. 5-17.



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Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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