Moreau’s Law in The Island of Doctor Moreau in Light of Kant’s Reciprocity Thesis

Journal of Science Fiction and Philosophy 1:1-12 (2018)
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Abstract

In this paper, I explore a tension between the Law in the novel The Island of Doctor Moreau, by H. G. Wells, and Kant's reciprocity thesis. The Law is a series of prohibitions that Moreau has his beasts recite. Moreau devotes his time to transforming animals through a painful surgery into beings that resemble humans, but the humanized beasts are constantly slipping back into animalistic habits, and so Moreau promulgates the Law to maintain decorum. Kant's reciprocity thesis states that free will is the necessary and sufficient condition of moral practical laws. That is, in order for a moral practical law to be applicable, there must be free will, and, if free will is present, then there will be a moral practical law that sets a standard for the free will. However, in Wells's novel, the humanized beasts seem to lack free will. So, how can a law be applicable to them? By delving deeper into the mystery of Moreau's strange island, I will shed light on the otherwise cumbersome concepts of free will, natural impulses, and practical laws, as well as their interrelationships. The upshot will be a deeper understanding of personhood through an exploration of the instinctual nature of animals, moral law, and free will.

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References found in this work

The Sources of Normativity.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1996 - Cambridge University Press.
Critique of Practical Reason.Immanuel Kant - 1788 - Hackett Publishing.
Critique of Pure Reason.Immanuel Kant - 1998 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
The Sources of Normativity.Christine Korsgaard - 1999 - Philosophical Quarterly 49 (196):384-394.
Critique of Pure Reason.Immanuel Kant - 1724 - Mineola, New York: Macmillan Company.

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