Species inegalitarianism as a matter of principle

Journal of Applied Philosophy 26 (2):174-189 (2009)
Most critics of species egalitarianism point to its counter-intuitive implications in particular cases. But this argumentative strategy is vulnerable to the response that our intuitions should give way in the face of arguments showing that species egalitarianism is required by our deepest, most fundamental moral principles. In this article, I develop an argument against deontological versions of species egalitarianism on its own terms. Appealing to the fundamental moral ideal of proportionality, I show that deontological species egalitarianism is morally objectionable as a matter of principle: it is committed to treating two individuals who are extraordinarily similar in morally relevant respects drastically differently. I then illustrate how an inegalitarian account of moral standing might be incorporated into traditional moral theories in ways that make them far more promising as theories of our obligations to the non-human world.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1468-5930.2009.00441.x
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