Contractualism and the Moral Status of Animals

Between the Species 14 (1):1 (2011)

While contractualism seems to solve some of the more pressing concerns of other moral theories, it does not conclusively address the moral status of non-human animals. Peter Carruthers claims that contractualism excludes animals from having full moral status. I argue that Carruthers’ arguments are fatally flawed due to his reliance on contradictory claims, unlikely assumptions, and flagrant violations of the contractualist method. However, Carruthers also claims that we can treat animals wrongly and that it deserves moral criticism. This claim is based in indirect moral significance. However, this position makes it impossible for Carruthers to avoid endorsing two extremely counter-intuitive claims. The work of C. Tucker and C. MacDonald allows us to demonstrate that contractualism does give animals full moral standing. They ground the criteria for a contracting agent in three characteristics that animals possess. A look at some possible objections reveals nothing devastating to their proposal
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