Evolving Notions of Nonhuman Personhood: Is Moral Standing Sufficient?

Journal of Evolution and Technology 24 (3):4-19 (2014)
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Decisions regarding the attribution of personhood to nonhuman animals have implications not only for the rights held by a particular species but also for the moral obligations of humans as moral agents. Since humans decide which species are accorded moral standing; thus becoming candidates for legal standing as legal persons; we need to be aware of our own vested interests in where the boundaries of duty are drawn. This paper argues that simple determination of moral standing is not sufficient to induce relevant changes in moral behavior. It examines six problems that emerge for us in determining the personhood of nonhuman animals: identifying which capacities we believe to be morally relevant; separating the identification of capacities from the duty consequences; designing appropriate methodologies for assessing morally relevant capacities in nonhuman animals; identifying relevant claim rights for nonhuman animals; resolving competing moral interests among species and between nonhumans and humans; and ensuring appropriate moral behavior. The conclusion of this examination is that we have a long way to go in order to be consistent in our moral behavior.



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Purism: Logic as the Basis of Morality.* Primus - 2021 - Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism 29:1-36.

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