Sacred mountains and beloved fetuses: can loving or worshipping something give it moral status?

Philosophical Studies 133 (1):55-81 (2007)
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Part One addresses the question whether the fact that some persons love something, worship it, or deeply care about it, can endow moral status on that thing. I argue that the answer is “no.” While some cases lend great plausibility to the view that love or worship can endow moral status, there are other cases in which love or worship clearly fails to endow moral status. Furthermore, there is no principled way to distinguish these two types of cases, so we must conclude that love or worship never endow moral status. Part Two takes up the hard question of why we have to be careful of things that others love or worship, given that the things do not thereby have moral status. I argue that it is sometimes bad for those who love or worship the things if we mistreat them. I develop an account of when love and worship, and person projects more generally, succeed in expanding the scope of what counts as good or bad for the person engaged in the project.



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Elizabeth Harman
Princeton University

References found in this work

Practical Ethics.Peter Singer - 1979 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Susan J. Armstrong & Richard George Botzler.
A defense of abortion.Judith Jarvis Thomson - 1971 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (1):47-66.

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