For the Sake of a Stone? Inanimate Things and the Demands of Morality

Inquiry 54 (4):384-397 (2011)
Abstract Everyday inanimate things such as stones, teapots and bicycles are not objects to which moral agents could have direct duties; they do not have moral status. It is usually assumed that there is therefore no reason to think that a morally good person would, on account of her goodness, be disposed to treat them well for their own sakes. I challenge this assumption. I begin by showing that to act for the sake of an entity need not be to suppose that it has moral status, but simply to regard it as an end in itself. Having done this, I argue that it is not, as is conventionally assumed, implausible to suppose that to be morally good is to be disposed to treat at least some inanimate things gently, and to do so, moreover, for the sake of those things, rather than for some other reason.
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DOI 10.1080/0020174X.2011.592343
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