Challenges and Possibilities for Accommodating Wild Animals in the Realm of Justice

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för geovetenskaper

Abstract: Abstract: This research seeks to investigate the possibilities and inadequacies of including wild animals within the justice realm. It bases this research on the reasons and rationales of representatives within environmental non- governmental organizations (ENGOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and public agency working with animal- rights and welfare or environmental protection. These representatives reason from a personal and organizational perspective concerning justice, ethics and morals to wild animals. Environmental Justice (EJ) and Ecological Justice (EcJ) serves as the main theories for this research where EJ is often perceived as anthropocentric and EcJ as a non- anthropocentric amelioration of the former. The results indicate that Animal Rights (AR) and World Animal Protection (WAP) think more of animals in terms of individualism, whilst World Wide Foundation (WWF), Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) think in terms of consideration for species and ecosystems holistically. Some respondents perceived justice exclusively as a human term, however with regard to altered paths of reasoning later in the interview as most respondents continuously struggled, to various degrees, to make sense of justice in relation to wild animals. There were occasional uncertainties concerning ethics and morals, however less alien than the justice term and more relevant in relation to other NGOs, i.e. animal- rights and welfare organizations and less outspoken, though not entirely dismissed, within ENGOs and public agency. However, although some respondents occasionally argued that they do not reflect on ethics, morals and justice, these interviews are testament that they do, but with other terms and concepts that could be argued to be synonymous to ethics, morals and justice and perhaps used consciously and/or unconsciously at work. In other words, one can say that a different kind of rhetoric was applied i.e. justice in form of rights, respect. Another finding of the research was a structuration concern: specifically, on whether morals and ethics are reflected in law, or whether the law becomes what constitutes our morals and ethics, given as a majority of the respondents often refer to laws as general guidelines. In other words, does the law reflect reality, or does the law constitute reality? What is the dialectic here? In conclusion, wild animals might never receive full justice, where the researcher analyses it as a sequence of animals not holding moral capacities enough to be moral agents, though with the exception of having rights. As shown in the results, some wild animals can already be said to receive justice, e.g. wild animals as state property and hunting legislation, whilst other wild animals are excluded altogether, e.g. wild animals not being considered in welfare law. In this way, many future challenges include expanding the legal stance of wild animals. Human precedence barricades the opportunities for extending justice which are shown in this study and can be said to link to relational-, aesthetical-, contextual factors and deep cultural values and associations, aspects which overshadow human flourishing, wild animals not having a counterpart, animals as objects and so forth. Though, by giving e.g. wild animals a heightened status in legislation, extending the moral circle to include wild animals the utility of justice may prove helpful in furthering the rights and welfare of animals. Additionally, properties as recognition through, e.g. agency and capabilities could also guide us in giving justice to the natural world, as highlighted by Schlosberg (2007), but also the idea of intrinsic value as highlighted by many respondents. Future research may consider the holistic and individualistic tendencies held within ENGOs, NGOs and public agency to see how it could be mutually considered to a larger extent. As highlighted by one of the respondents, perhaps laws and legislation are not enough and that one could investigate more in how one perceive animals culturally, in other words human dimensions socially and culturally. 

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