Agency and Moral Status

Journal of Moral Philosophy 14 (1):1-22 (2017)
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According to our traditional conception of agency, most human beings are agents and most, if not all, nonhuman animals are not. However, recent developments in philosophy and psychology have made it clear that we need more than one conception of agency, since human and nonhuman animals are capable of thinking and acting in more than one kind of way. In this paper, I make a distinction between perceptual and propositional agency, and I argue that many nonhuman animals are perceptual agents and that many human beings are both kinds of agent. I then argue that, insofar as human and nonhuman animals exercise the same kind of agency, they have the same kind of moral status, and I explore some of the moral implications of this idea.



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Jeff Sebo
New York University

Citations of this work

On the Idea of Degrees of Moral Status.Dick Timmer - forthcoming - Journal of Value Inquiry:1-19.
Animals and the agency account of moral status.Marc G. Wilcox - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (7):1879-1899.
Sentientism, Motivation, and Philosophical Vulcans.Luke Roelofs - 2023 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 104 (2):301-323.

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References found in this work

Animal Liberation.Peter Singer (ed.) - 1977 - Avon Books.
The Case for Animal Rights.Tom Regan - 2004 - Univ of California Press.
The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception.Marc H. Bornstein - 1980 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 39 (2):203-206.
The case for animal rights.Tom Regan - 1985 - In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Exploring ethics: an introductory anthology. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 425-434.

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