From Conservation to Compassion
Edited by Werner Scholtz
Chapter 2: Value, wild animals and law
Human animals protect that which we value. The type and amount of protection afforded is a function of the type and level of value assigned. Traditionally, humans have assigned instrumental economic value (of differing levels depending upon the context) to wild animals as commodities primarily for human consumptive uses, e.g. hunting and fishing, and some non-consumptive uses, e.g. viewing. However, wild animals exhibit other values for humans, and as sentient beings with interests of their own, have intrinsic value independent of their utility to humans. To a very modest degree, domestic anti-cruelty and welfare laws and provisions in international treaties that prohibit especially cruel methods of killing wild animals reflect an understanding of the intrinsic value of wild animals. However, the standards set often are inadequate to provide robust protection for wild animals and are difficult to enforce. A true appreciation for wild animals’ intrinsic value that justifies their moral significance is a key to providing greater legal protection for their interests and well-being.
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