Justice and the treatment of animals: A critique of Rawls

Environmental Ethics 3 (1):55-61 (1981)
Abstract
Although the participants in the initial situation of justice in John Rawls’ Theory of Justice choose principles of justice only, their choices have implications for other moral concerns. The only check on the self-interest of the participants is that there be unanimous acceptance of the principles. But, since animals are not participants, it is possible that principles will be adopted which confiict with what Rawls calls“duties of compassion and humanity” toward animals. This is a consequence of the initial situation’s assumption that principles of justice can be determined independently of other moral considerations. We question this assumption, and show that satisfactory modifications of Rawls’ initial situation undermine its contractarian basis and require the rejection of exclusively self-interested participants
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Ruth Abbey (2007). Rawlsian Resources for Animal Ethics. Ethics and the Environment 12 (1):1-22.
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