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Fellow Joins Seaworld Captivity Controversy

5th September 2014

Professor Thomas White with Oxford students

Left to right: Justin Begley (University College), Adam Bridgen (Linacre College), Juliane Beck (St Anthony’s College), and Centre Fellow Professor Tom White at the International Business Ethics Case Competition in Tucson, Arizona, 2014.

Centre Fellow Professor Thomas White has launched into the recent Seaworld Captivity controversy by giving an interview to the Business Ethics Magazine.

Here is a sample of the interview:

As not all scientists agree that captivity harms cetaceans, isn’t there reasonable doubt?

TW: Not from an ethical standpoint. At the very least, there is plenty of scientific evidence that calls into question the appropriateness of captivity. And from the perspective of ethics, when you have a questionable situation, the benefit of the doubt goes to protecting those who could be harmed. Also, while it’s true that there is not agreement among all marine mammal scientists on this issue, there is among the more progressive scientists. More to the point is the question:  Which research a business should pay attention to? I would argue that it’s the most cutting edge research, not the most conservative research. And this is especially true for a business like SeaWorld, which argues that it has an educational mission, as well as a financial one. If you are operating a business that has a connection with the world of science, you should go with the most advanced science, not possibly outdated research.

The full interview can be found here.

Professor White is the Conrad N. Hilton Professor in Business Ethics and Director of the Centre for Ethics and Business at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. He is author of In Defense of Dolphins: The New Moral Frontier published by Blackwell in 2007.