Environmental Ethics

Volume 41, Issue 2, Summer 2019

Anna Peterson
Pages 129-141

Problem Animals

Nonhuman animals play various roles in environmental ethics, often as charismatic symbols of wilderness or active participants in the natural dramas we seek to preserve. Sometimes, however, nonhuman animals do not fit into—and may even threaten—the “nature” that we value. There are two especially problematic animals: white-tailed deer and feral cats. Together, these creatures shine light on a number of important issues in environmental ethics, including the tensions between animal welfare and environmentalism, the ways human interests and categories pervade even ecocentric perspectives, and the complex place of science in environmental ethics and advocacy. Thinking through the issues raised by debates about deer and cats can contribute to a more adequate treatment of nonhuman animals in environmental thought and advocacy.