Is it immoral to keep an animal as a pet, or is this question not within the

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Is it immoral to keep an animal as a pet, or is this question not within the domain of ethical philosophy? My reasoning is this, there are other much more self-involved things to do than spend time taking care of a pet, such as reading philosophy or even asking questions on this site. Pets can cause all kinds of problems, especially for its owner, and perhaps do not reciprocate affection.

I'm puzzled. Why would doing something more "self-involved" be morally better than keeping a pet? Perhaps by "self-involved," you mean self-improving, but morality doesn't call for spending all our time improving ourselves. And even insofar as it does, caring for a pet might help some people to become more empathetic and responsible.

Of course, pets sometimes cause problems. But so do cars, DVD players, the computer you wrote your question on, and—for that matter—friends and family. And in any case, morality doesn't call for avoiding all problems. If anything, it arguably calls for the opposite, since if we spend all our time steering clear of difficulties, we're likely to end up stunted and selfish.

Some pets probably don't reciprocate affection; goldfish almost certainly don't, for example. But once again, what of it? Even if a fish-fancier agrees that her fish don't fancy her, how would that make her a worse person?

Maybe I'm missing something, but I'd have thought the moral questions about keeping pets would mostly be about the welfare of the animals. Even if they don't make us better (and that's open to doubt), it's hard to see how they make us worse.

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