All Animals are Equal, but Some More than Others?

Journal of Moral Philosophy 17 (3):342-357 (2020)
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Does the moral badness of pain depend on who feels it? A common, but generally only implicitly stated view, is that it does not. This view, ‘unitarianism’, maintains that the same interests of different beings should count equally in our moral calculus. Shelly Kagan’s project in How to Count Animals, more or less is to reject this common view, and develop an alternative to it: a hierarchical view of moral status, on which the badness of pain does depend on who feels it. In this review essay, we critically examine Kagan’s argument for status hierarchy. In particular, we reject two of the central premises in his argument: that moral standing is ultimately grounded in agency and that unitarianism is overdemanding. We conclude that moral status may, despite Kagan’s compelling argument to the contrary, not be hierarchical.



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Author Profiles

Huub Brouwer
Tilburg University
Willem van der Deijl
Tilburg University

Citations of this work

Moral Status, Luck, and Modal Capacities: Debating Shelly Kagan.Harry R. Lloyd - 2021 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 38 (2):273-287.

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References found in this work

The Case for Animal Rights.Tom Regan - 2004 - Univ of California Press.
The limits of morality.Shelly Kagan - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The case for animal rights.Tom Regan - 1985 - In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Exploring ethics: an introductory anthology. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 425-434.
The Case for Animal Rights.Tom Regan - 1985 - Human Studies 8 (4):389-392.
How to Count Animals, More or Less.Shelly Kagan - 2019 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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