The Argument from Existence, Blood-Sports, and 'Sport-Slaves

Humphreys, Rebekah (2014) The Argument from Existence, Blood-Sports, and 'Sport-Slaves. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 27 (2). pp. 331-345. ISSN 1187-7863

Humphreys, R. (2014)The Argument From Existence.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License CC-BY-NC-ND Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (127kB) | Preview


The argument from existence is often used as an attempted justification for our use of animals in commercial practices, and is often put forward by lay-persons and philosophers alike. This paper provides an analysis of the argument from existence primarily within the context of blood-sports (applying the argument to the example of game-birding), and in doing so addresses interesting and related issues concerning the distinction between having a life and living, or worthwhile life and mere existence, as well as issues surrounding our responsibilities to prospective and actual beings. However, my analysis of the argument will go beyond the animal ethics context; it is important that it does so in order to reveal the troublesome implications of the argument and to highlight the sorts of unethical practices it supports. In particular, in applying the argument to a relevant example concerning human beings, I will discuss how the argument from existence could be used to justify the ownership of slaves who were reared for slavery. My objective is to show just how problematic the argument from existence is, with the aim of laying the argument to rest once and for all.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This article has been featured in the 'Key Research Article' section of the journal Sociology Research (, 28 May 2014. Sociology Research alerts the social science community to the latest papers considered to represent the best in sociology research.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Existence, obligations, slavery, blood-sports, interests.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
S Agriculture > SK Hunting sports
Divisions: Institutes and Academies > Institute of Education and Humanities > Academic Discipline: Humanities and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Rebekah Humphreys
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2018 14:53
Last Modified: 06 Apr 2023 09:15

Administrator Actions (login required)

Edit Item - Repository Staff Only Edit Item - Repository Staff Only