Animals as friends

Cynthia Townley

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Whether animals, especially companion animals, count as friends depends on the conception of friendship as well as on the conception of animals. Some accounts of friendship can include (other than human) animals more easily than others. I present an argument in favour of characterising some animal-human connections as friendships, and address some of the standard objections to this characterisation. It might seem that under any conception of friendship, characterising animals as (potential) friends would likely lead to better treatment of animals, as various kinds of ill-treatment or use would not be consistent with treating someone as a friend. However, concern for animal welfare typically extends well beyond the direct concern for our own household companions, and is a concern for animals (or certain animals) in general, whereas friendship, by its nature, is particularist. There are limits to applying the concept of friendship to animal treatment beyond particular relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-59
Number of pages15
JournalBetween the species
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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  • animals
  • ethics
  • friends

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