An approach for demonstrating the social legitimacy of hunting

  • Peterson M
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Successful lobbying against certain hunting practices by animal-welfare and animal-rights groups and a steady decline in hunter recruitment, retention, and numbers raise legitimate concerns regarding the future of hunting and its relationship to wildlife management. The nonhunting, non-animal-rights-advocate majority will determine the fate of hunting. Thus, a successful hunting ethic must be logically consistent and intuitively appealing to this moderate majority. This shared ethic could encourage cultural, political, and economic support for wildlife management from both hunters and nonhunters alike. In light of this goal, I argue that 3 dominant hunting ethics-the naturalness hypothesis, the land ethic, and the sporting ethic-fail to justify hunting or place it in a shared context with modern society, and I suggest an alternative ethic that combines Aldo Leopold's vision of an expanding community with traditional utilitarian and rights-based evaluations of ethical criteria within an n-dimensional moral framework. This conceptualization of an ethical system would allow the use of tools applicable to systems analysis in analyzing moral issues and would foster communicative practices capable of creating a more inclusive community. Further, it can both create and elucidate the ethical space shared by the moderate majority and hunters.

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  • M N Peterson

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