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Fighting Nature: An Analysis and Critique of Breed-Specific Flourishing Arguments for Dog Fights

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Social science literature on dog fighting illustrates an important element in the discourse of dog fighters, namely patriarchy. However, it has not addressed another common element, namely flourishing. According to this element of that discourse, some dog breeds are born to fight, and therefore dog fighters are helping them achieve their best lives. This argument is explicitly made by dog fighters, and it is inadvertently supported by those trying to give other dogs breed-specific flourishing, and those who advocate for breed-specific legislation. This poses a problem for advocates of using flourishing to understand animal welfare, particularly if they use kinds (like species and breed) to determine what counts as a flourishing life for a particular nonhuman animal. I argue that we can keep a slightly weakened version of breed-specific flourishing as a starting place for understanding individual dogs without endorsing sport fighting or breed-specific legislation for “vicious” breeds of dogs.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley ian.werkheiser@utrgv.ede


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