The philosophical activity that I have chosen for this assignment is being a dog owner. This is a very consistent part of my life which I have never analyzed in a philosophical way, but with some deeper thought, it is something that contributes to my definition of philosophy. I am the owner of a beautiful golden retriever who I love more than most things in this world. Despite this being a pleasurable “activity,” it comes with a lot of responsibility and at times is not very enjoyable. It requires a lot of patience, time, and energy. I have to walk my dog twice daily, I have to feed her special food because of her allergies, and I have to spend time giving her adequate affection. Along with this, my dog does not always behave and does not reciprocate the effort I put into taking care of her, as most well functioning human relationships do. Regardless of this, I love her and take pride in caring for her and treating her well.
Being a dog owner is philosophical to me in the sense that it requires one to be selfless and care for a different species. It has taught me a lot about myself and what it means to truly devote yourself to another being, which to me is quite a philosophical lesson. In my opinion, the act of caring for a dog resonates with the Kantian perspective of ethics, because I believe the maxim behind taking care of a dog should be a good one. The Categorical Imperative of universalizability approves this action as being morally ethical, because not all animals can be treated poorly. Along with this, whether someone is acting according to duty or not in taking care of a dog, their action is still considered morally right according to Kant. Therefore one may take of care of their dog because they love it and are intrinsically motivated to, or they could be taking care of it because, for example, their grandmother is ill and needs someone to care for her dog that you do not really want to.
Many people view animals lives as not being as significant as human lives. It is scientifically proven that animals have smaller brains and do not have the same understanding of the world, but this should not give humans the right to exploit or neglect them. This resonates with the opinion of Peter Singer who believes that animals should not be disregarded because of their smaller brains (Singer, 49). Singer believes that it should not “depend on what they are like or what abilities they possess,” and that every animal should be seen as equal (49). In the same sense just as different “races” should be considered equal in every way, so should animals (49). I very much agree with Singers opinion, because I have a deep love of animals and believe that my dog is of equal status, although a lot of people in the world do not share the same views.
My definition of philosophy is evident in my example of being a dog owner. I identify my view of philosophy with Kant’s idea of having good will behind my maxim for caring for a dog, as well as Singers perspective on animal ethics. By owning a dog I have further understood what it means to live philosophically according to my opinions, and I have embraced selflessness and caring in my daily life. Being a dog owner is only an example of this definition of philosophy in my life, as it is also prevalent in my family life, my relationships with friends, and my passion for volunteering.
Shafer-Landau, Russ. “The Kantian Perspective: Fairness and Justice.” The Fundamentals of Ethics. Oxford University Press, 2012. pp. 154-167.
Singer, Peter. “Equality For Animals?” Practical Ethics. Cambridge University Press, 2011. pp. 49.