A Kantian Approach to the Moral Considerability of Non-human Nature

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 36 (4):1-16 (2023)
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A Kantian approach can establish that non-human natural entities are morally considerable and that humans have duties to them. This is surprising, because most environmental ethicists have either rejected or overlooked Kant when it comes to this issue. Inspired by an argument of Christine Korsgaard, I claim that both humans and non-humans have a natural good, which is whatever allows an entity to function well according to the kind of entity it is. I argue that humans are required to confer normative value on the natural good of all entities that have a natural good. This is so because, as a matter of fact, humans confer normative value on their own natural good simply because it is a natural good, which commits humans to the position that any natural good deserves to have normative value conferred on it. Since non-human natural entities have a natural good, their natural good deserves to have normative value conferred on it as well, and this is sufficient to make non-human natural entities morally considerable such that humans have duties to them.


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Toby Svoboda
Colgate University

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References found in this work

The metaphysics of morals.Immanuel Kant - 1797/1996 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Mary J. Gregor.
Fellow Creatures. Our Obligations to the Other Animals.Christine M. Korsgaard - 2018 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 73 (1):165-168.
Lectures on ethics.Immanuel Kant - 1980 - International Journal of Ethics (1):104-106.
Lectures on Ethics.Immanuel Kant - 1932 - International Journal of Ethics 43 (1):104-106.

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