When is a pet not a pet? Rethinking the ethics of animal terminology

Nikki Shaw
Thursday, March 1, 2012

Current academic debate is exploring the idea that words, similes and metaphors that relate to non-human animals may reinforce cultural and societal notions of inequality between humans and other animals. Historically, three major philosophical traditions have biased humans over animals and have refected and reinforced an agenda of human superiority. As language is used to construct and convey meaning, it has been proposed by some that the word ‘pet’ should be replaced with the term ‘companion animal’ to refect a more egalitarian relationship between the animal and the human caregiver. Such discussions around the use of animal-related language could entail re-evaluating the general status of animals in society and how veterinary nurses respond to the emergence of the notion of animal personhood, both in professional practice and in their wider lives.

When is a pet not a pet? Rethinking the ethics of animal terminology
When is a pet not a pet? Rethinking the ethics of animal terminology

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