TIERethik - Zeitschrift zur Mensch-Tier-Beziehung


Members of the household: Debates about the ethics of coexistence
Michaela Fenske & Marlis Heyer

The so-called “return of the wolves” poses a particular challenge to many people in Europe, Germany included. Some people in rural settings, who are especially affected by this return, disapprove of the animal returnees. Their reaction is partly linked to the traumatic experiences livestock owners made with the predatory attacks of some of the wolves on their animals. The present contribution reads the return of the wolves as part of the dramatic changes in the world at the beginning of the twenty-first century. In the whole of the Global North, these developments are linked to profound changes in human conduct and attitudes, including attitudes practiced towards other than human living beings. Wolves are part of the related processes. They demonstrate in particular the ethical challenge posed by the fluidity of orders and boundaries one has grown accustomed to, including the affiliation with human households or the specification of spaces of living as rural or urban, wild or civilized. Although the process of negotiating rules of coexistence is open and highly ambiguous,related discussions reveal new insights into the connectivity of human actors and other living beings. These insights create essential conditions to negotiate the development of new attitudes and appreciations that work towards a more adequate constitution of the close communication between humans and other living beings.

Keywords: return of the wolves, domestication, social changes, fluidity, ethics of coexistence