Congratulations to Dustin Sigsbee who has recently been awarded a Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship!
Dustin's dissertation is tentatively titled: "Partiality and Animal Ethics"
For most of us the relationships that we have with others are amongst the most morally important things in our lives. However, much of moral philosophy tends to focus on the application of abstract principles and rules at the exclusion of our relationships. This, however, fails to capture the way in which many of us in fact go about our moral decision-making. Rather than being guided solely by abstract principles, we often make decisions based on the relationships we find ourselves in with others. The ethics of partiality holds that these relationships give us reason to favor the interests of the members of that relationship.
While many of the relationships we have are with other humans, we are also capable of entering into morally meaningful relationships with animals. One such relationship is the relationship we have with our animal companions. Our relationship with our animal companions has many morally salient features in common with other meaningful relationships, but it also has morally salient differences. A better understanding of these commonalities and differences will give us a better understanding of our moral relationship with our animal companions.
The ethics of partiality can also be extended to other relationships we have with animals. The relationships we have with farmed animals, liminal animals, animals used in biomedical experiments, wild animals, and pests are also of moral significance. Extending the ethics of partiality to these other relationships will provide a more wholistic account of our moral obligations to animals.