Nonhuman Animals Are Morally Responsible

American Philosophical Quarterly 56 (2):135-154 (2019)
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Abstract

Animals are often presumed to lack moral agency insofar as they lack the capacities for reflection or the ability to understand their motivating reasons for acting. In this paper, I argue that animals are in some cases morally responsible. First, I outline conditions of moral action, drawing from a quality of will account of moral responsibility. Second, I review recent empirical research on the capacities needed for moral action in humans and show that animals also have such capacities. I conclude that though it may be difficult to engage in the practice of holding animals morally responsible, given the communication barrier and lack of mutual understanding, some animals nevertheless act in ways for which they are morally responsible.

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Asia Ferrin
American University

References found in this work

Unprincipled virtue: an inquiry into moral agency.Nomy Arpaly - 2003 - New York: Oxford University Press.
In Praise of Desire.Nomy Arpaly & Timothy Schroeder - 2013 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Timothy Schroeder.
Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious.Timothy D. Wilson - 2002 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

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