Distributive justice and co-operation in a world of humans and non-humans: A contractarian argument for drawing non-humans into the sphere of justice

Res Publica 15 (1):67-84 (2009)
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Abstract

Various arguments have been provided for drawing non-humans such as animals and artificial agents into the sphere of moral consideration. In this paper, I argue for a shift from an ontological to a social-philosophical approach: instead of asking what an entity is, we should try to conceptually grasp the quasi-social dimension of relations between non-humans and humans. This allows me to reconsider the problem of justice, in particular distributive justice . Engaging with the work of Rawls, I show that an expansion of the contractarian framework to non-humans causes an important problem for liberalism, but can be justified by a contractarian argument. Responding to Bell’s and Nussbaum’s comments on Rawls, I argue that we can justify drawing non-humans into the sphere of distributive justice by relying on the notion of a co-operative scheme. I discuss what co-operation between humans and non-humans can mean and the extent to which it depends on properties. I conclude that we need to imagine principles of ecological and technological distributive justice.

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Mark Coeckelbergh
University of Vienna

References found in this work

Political Liberalism.John Rawls - 1993 - Columbia University Press.
What is It Like to Be a Bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.
Justice as Fairness: A Restatement.John Rawls (ed.) - 2001 - Harvard University Press.
Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to the Actor-Network Theory.Bruno Latour - 2005 - Oxford, England and New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.

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