Letting animals off the hook

Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (forthcoming)
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A growing literature argues that animals can act for moral reasons without being responsible. I argue that the literature often fails to maintain a clear distinction between moral behavior and moral agency, and I formulate a dilemma: either animals are less moral or they are more responsible than the literature suggests. If animals can respond to moral reasons, they are responsible according to an influential view of moral responsibility–Quality of Will. But if they are responsible, as some argue, costly implications must be acknowledged. If, however, they should not be considered responsible, then we may have to reassess the meaning of animal morality. I discuss ways to eschew responsibility or to tailor it to animals and argue that each requires a revised conception of animal morality.



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Nicolas Delon
New College of Florida

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