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Environmental Values

The Idea of the Domesticated Animal Contract

Clare Palmer

Environmental Values 6(1997): 411-425. doi: 10.3197/096327197776679004

Some recent works have suggested that the relationship between human beings and domesticated animals might be described as contractual. This paper explores how the idea of such an animal contract might relate to key characteristics of social contract theory, in particular to issues of the change in state from 'nature' to 'culture'; to free consent and irrevocability; and to the benefits and losses to animals which might follow from such a contract. The paper concludes that there are important dissimilarities between a domesticated animal contract and other theories of social contract; and that contract language may be used to legitimate relationships of domination over domesticated animals.


KEYWORDS: Animals, social contract theory, Budiansky, animal contract



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