Moral Status As a Matter of Degree?

Southern Journal of Philosophy 46 (2):181-198 (2008)
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Abstract

Some people contend that fetuses have moral status but less than that of paradigm persons. Many people hold views implying that sentient animals have moral status but less than that of persons. These positions suggest that moral status admits of degrees. Does it? To address this question, we must first clarify what it means to speak of degrees of moral status. The paper begins by clarifying the more basic concept of moral status and presenting two models of degrees of moral status. It then sketches several significant considerations in favor of, and several against, the assertion of degrees of moral status. The paper concludes by drawing lessons from the discussion.

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David DeGrazia
George Washington University

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