David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Applied Philosophy 14 (3):235–247 (1997)
It is widely accepted, by both friends and foes of animal rights, that contractarianism is the moral theory least likely to justify the assigning of direct moral status to non-human animals. These are not, it is generally supposed, rational agents, and contractarian approaches can grant direct moral status only to such agents. I shall argue that this widely accepted view is false. At least some forms of contractarianism, when properly understood, do, in fact, entail that non-human animals possess direct moral status, independently of their utility for rational agents, and independently of whatever interests rational agents may have in them. The version of contractarianism I shall focus upon is that defended by John Rawls
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