Can pets be thought of as humans?

human and animal

Hilal Sezgin

To person

Born in 1970; Studied philosophy in Frankfurt am Main, then worked as an author in the features section of the Frankfurter Rundschau for several years; since 2006 freelance writer and journalist; most recently published: "Manifesto of the Many. Germany is reinventing itself" (2011) and "Country life. From one who pulled out" (2011).

Animals have to be considered morally insofar as they have feelings and an individual well-being. In emergency situations we can defend ourselves against them, we don't have to love them either, but we are not allowed to use them regularly.


Anyone who asks about what is allowed and what is supposed to be in the realm of morality. And that is also assumed for all of the following considerations: that there is morality between people. We try not to harm other people, we respect their property, their physical integrity; they are not allowed to kill, not to strike without emergency, etc. With animals, however, all of this seems to be perfectly fine: we lock them up, inflict pain on them, take away their offspring, kill them without them attacking us. Why? Is that in order?

That people have always used animals for their own purposes can hardly be an argument. Humans have always fought wars, kept human slaves. But societies continue to develop, our morals continue to develop, and a dichotomy is opening up before us more and more: Today we have more opportunities than ever to manipulate and use animals as we see fit. In spite of this (or perhaps because of it) many people have the inkling that the subordination of animals to humans, which for so long seemed a matter of course, should be put on the moral test of animal ethics.

Although some thinkers from ancient times through the Middle Ages to modern times have proclaimed compassion for animals, "animal ethics" is a contemporary debate under that name. It originated in the context of English-speaking philosophy in the 1970s. It goes without saying that it cannot be shown anywhere in its entirety here; Rather, I want to single out and sharpen arguments and situations that we encounter particularly often in everyday life, starting with the use of animals for food purposes and with reference to human "nature", with which meat consumption is often justified.