The euthanasia of companion animals

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract / Description of output

Euthanasia of companion animals is far less ethically controversial than human euthanasia. However, modeling the ethics of euthanizing companion animals on the ethics of euthanizing human beings is implausible. Companion animal euthanasia is better categorized as a form of potentially justifiable killing, resting on our duties to protect or promote animal wellbeing. The comparative account of the value of death provides the best account of when prematurely ending a companion animal’s life through medical means is morally justified, namely, when a companion animal’s dying would be neither a benefit nor a harm to it. Indeed, knowingly failing to euthanize a companion animal at or near that optimal time fails to respect such an animal and can treat it merely as a means (though not in the usual Kantian sense). The chapter concludes by reflecting on why companion animal guardians are specifically permitted to choose to euthanize companion animals.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPets and People
Subtitle of host publicationThe ethics of companion animals
EditorsChristine Overall
Place of PublicationOxford; New York
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9780190456085, 9780190456078
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • euthanasia
  • justifiable killing
  • value of death
  • comparative account
  • treating as means
  • animal guardian


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