The thesis starts from the supposition that hunting has become a morally contested practice in the Western world. It identifies a challenge to the moral legitimacy of hunting in the perspectives of animal rights theorists, and takes the hunter’s response to this challenge as its subject. The thesis oscillates between cultural analysis and moral philosophy in an investigation of the arguments given by Norwegian and American hunters in justification of their sport. A pluralist-pragmatic framework for studying ethical issues is presented, and its application to animal studies suggested. From this framework, a minimal animal ethic is sketched which elaborates on two common sense beliefs about the moral status of animals. This position is then brought to bear on three central groups of arguments commonly given by hunters to justify the hunt; firstly, the hunt as a game played by the hunter and his quarry, justified by the game’s character of being fair chase; secondly, the hunt as an expression of the human hunting instinct and as re-enactment of human origins; lastly, the hunt as a means of management of nature or as the nexus of an ecologically integrated lifestyle. Hunters’ arguments are reviewed and related to relevant ethical principles.