The Journal of Ethics 24 (1):119-136 (2020)

Michael-John Turp
University of Canterbury
Hume’s Treatise, Enquiries and Essays contain plentiful material for an investigation into the moral nature of other animals and our moral relations to them. In particular, Hume pays considerable attention to animal minds. He also argues that moral judgment is grounded in sympathy. As sympathy is shared by humans and some other animals, this already hints at the possibility that some animals are morally considerable, even if they are not moral agents. Most contributions to the literature on animal ethics assume one of the big three normative theories as their starting point; consequentialism, deontology or neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics. However, as several philosophers have argued, Hume’s discussion of animals suggests a distinctive, alternative approach. I defend and develop this sort of view, building from the ground up via a careful study of Hume’s texts. In particular, I pay close attention to the operations of sympathy and the correctness conditions for moral judgments based on our sympathetic responsiveness to animal minds, addressing a number of interpretative puzzles and difficulties along the way. The result is an outline of an approach to animal ethics that is grounded in a general philosophy of nature, a naturalistic methodology and broadly plausible psychological assumptions.
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DOI 10.1007/s10892-019-09313-2
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References found in this work BETA

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