The morality and ethics of hunting : towards common ground

Patterson, Claire (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 1999-12)

Abstract

The hunters and anti-hunting have been arguing for years over whether or not trophy hunting should be allowed. While attempts have been made to resolve the issue, no widely acceptable solution has yet been found. Hunters have put forward various arguments including: religion, instinct, sustainable utilization, money, excessive populations and the wildlife management support argument. These have usually been criticized for being management orientate and not addressing the focal question of the anti-hunters: 'What gives man the right to hunt'. Anti-hunters have countered these arguments and presented new ones. These include: cruelty, animal rights, animal liberation, special and rare species as well as religion and wildlife management support arguments. The anti-hunters have used sympathy and emotion to gain support for their movement while making effective use of the media. Hunters on the other hand have been slow to make use of this communication tool. In presenting their arguments, a fundamental difference has been identified between the use of the various terms. The seemingly simple word 'ethics' has been used by the hunters to mean a code of conduct while the anti-hunters have used this word in indicate the morality of man's actions. The inherent value of an animal has also been debated. Does an animal have value in and of itself or does it only have value in that it is useful to man? Furthermore, is it the individual animal, the species or the population which has value? The value of wildlife as a natural resource and the right to use this resource is also discussed. Do developed countries have the right to determine the use that a developing country may make of its resources? Leopold's land ethics is discussed an it is shown how hunting preserves the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. In order to address the issues raised by the debate, it is necessary for the hunters and the anti-hunters to be willing to work towards common goals. It is unlikely that either side would ever be willing to give up their position but if they can agree to work towards some common goals, the long on-going debate would have achieved something. For this reason, four solution to this debate are looked at and analyzed. Their weakness and failures are discussed as well as their strong points. Taylor's Priority Principles are then analyzed to identify the first steps that need to be taken in draWing up guidelines for hunting. While this assignment does not attempt to identify these guidelines it does point out the need to have such guidelines and establishes that there can be common ground. Also, that it is desirable to achieve this aim. The assignment highlights the need for groups to work towards common goals without having to give up their beliefs and standpoints. There will be time later to determine whether or not man should hunt. In the meantime, man should be focussing on hunting ethically - both in the moral sense and within the framework of a good code of conduct.

Thesis (MPhil (Philosophy))--University of Stellenbosch, 1999.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/1798
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