Because the Institute of Cytology and Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Novisibirsk, Russia has begun selling and commercializing its domesticated foxes as pets (Trut 1999), controversy has arisen. The legislature is unsure of how to define these animals, whether wild, exotic, or domesticated, as illustrated by the city of Farmington in Anya’s case, and some people are still suspicious as to whether or not these animals are truly domesticated and should be welcomed into our homes.

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Thesis Supervisor: Harvey Ginsburg, Ph.D. | Department of Psychology
Second Reader: Bob Fischer, Ph.D. | Department of Philosophy
Approved: Heather C. Galloway Ph.D. | Dean, Honors College



Since 1959, the Institute of Cytology and Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Novisibirsk, Russia has attempted to domesticate the red fox, Vulpes vulpes, in order to better understand the domestication of the dog, Canis familiaris, from the gray wolf, Canis lupus. Interest in owning these newly-domesticated animals as pets has increased, adding to the controversy of exotic pet ownership. Pet foxes in the United States have come across negative community attitudes and have been relocated, confiscated, and even exterminated as a result.

This study investigated existing participant attitudes toward pets and pet ownership and analyzed how the manipulation of canine physical attributes by domestication can affect participant perceptions. Anonymous surveys were administered to 97 undergraduate students enrolled in psychology classes at Texas State University. Each participant’s attitudes toward dogs and pet-dog ownership were measured alongside their attitudes toward domesticated foxes and pet-domesticated-fox ownership. Additional questions were created to assess participants’ legal and ethical attitudes, knowledge of fox domestication, and opinions and experiences in regard to pet ownership. Images were created to isolate physical attributes in canines in order to assess their impact on human perception of undomesticated and domesticated features.

The results of this study showed a preference for pet dogs over pet foxes and provided evidence that a majority of people have participated in the practice of owning pet dogs. A connection was found between attitudes toward pet dogs and foxes. Attitudes toward dog and fox breeding and laws regarding pet-dog ownership and pet-fox ownership showed a preference for the legal possession of dogs as pets over foxes, but a moderate agreement to both dog and fox breeding. A low percentage of participants were found to have knowledge of the Farm-Fox Experiment and a moderately-high percentage showed interest in owning a domesticated fox as a pet. This study’s illustrations found that participants instantly reacted to physical attributes manipulated by domestication, but often preferred the standard wild red-colored fox. Different physical traits were also found to have different perceptions of participants.

This study has shown that while our communities are not yet ready to accept these animals into the home, there is potential. Not only do these animals have the genetic potential to become more domesticated and suited for life with humans, participants were shown to have moderately high favorability scores toward pet domesticated foxes.
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"Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals" by Immanuel Kant

“Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals” by Immanuel Kant

“An eye for an eye,” everyone’s heard the phrase. As common as the phrase is, though, it can really reveal some dark depths hidden within humanity. Human beings tend to be revenge-seeking creatures that relish in justice and seek payback. We like to dish out punishment to those we feel deserve it. Because of this desire and mindset, the death penalty is legal in thirty-seven U.S. states. Not everyone agrees with ending another’s life, however, so the penalty remains a moral issue. Those who feel that the death penalty is never a morally permissible form of punishment call themselves abolitionists, while those who agree that the death penalty is, or could be, morally justified, or perhaps even required, are often referred to as retentionists. Constantly trying to argue their viewpoints, each group uses philosophical approaches to support their opinions.

Immanuel Kant, famous for the Kantian approach of ethics, is one who holds strong opinions dealing with the death penalty. Throughout Punishment and the Principle of Equality, a short excerpt from his 1997 The Metaphysics of Morals, Part 1, The Doctrine of Right, Kant defends the death penalty as a strong retentionist, expressing opposition to consequentalist ideals and by defining an appropriate moral principle for determining specific punishments, which he calls “principle of equality.” All throughout his excerpt, Kant expresses that one should receive the treatment that he bestows upon others and that “the undeserved evil which any one commits on another, is to be regarded as perpetrated on himself.” With this mindset, Kant states that the death penalty is a requirement for any who commit murder because it brings about justice and righteousness. “If you slander another, you slander yourself; if you steal from another, you steal from yourself; if you strike another, you strike yourself; if you kill another, you kill yourself,” he writes, clarifying his viewpoints.

While some may view Kant’s “principle of equality” as harsh and vengeful, others view it as moral and necessary. I find the “eye for an eye” ideology easy to grasp and comprehend and tend to harbor similar thoughts. While the death penalty may be the most extreme punishment, I feel that murder is the most extreme crime. If one decides to steal the life from another, it seems justified to steal his life from him for the wrongdoing he did, trouble he caused, and immoral act he committed. As Kant states, “if justice and righteousness perish, human life would no longer have any value in the world.” If nothing was done to correct the sin committed and others were enabled to commit crimes with lightened punishments, mankind would begin to crumble, fall apart, and ultimate lose everything it’s worked for.

Governed by laws and rules, mankind has created a system to ensure that its members live moral lives and coincide together harmoniously. When immoral acts arise, however, punishment must ensue; else mankind would cease to function. With a thirst for revenge and justice in mind, humanity tends to favor the “eye for an eye” mindset. Immanuel Kant, founder of the Kantian moral theory, especially supports this ideal as he uses the “principle of equality” to determine specific punishments within his short excerpt, Punishment and the Principle of Equality, from his 1997 The Metaphysics of Morals, Part 1, The Doctrine of Right. Stating that people should be treated as they treat others, Kant admits that the death penalty is a required punishment for those who commit acts of murder. Although an extreme punishment, it matches the extremity of the crime and thus delivers justice and regains righteousness. By stealing the life from the thief who stole from another, minds may be put to rest, hearts may be eased, and mankind can continue in vengeful justice.