Self-consciousness and the rights of nonhuman animals and nature

Environmental Ethics 1 (2):99-129 (1979)
Abstract
A reciprocity framework is presented as an analysis of morality, and to explain and justify the attribution of moral rights and duties. To say an entity has rights makes sense only if that entity can fulfill reciprocal duties, i.e., can act as a moral agent. To be a moral agent an entity must (1) be self-conscious, (2) understand general principles, (3) have free will, (4) understand the given principles, (5) be physicallycapable of acting, and (6) intend to act according to or against the given principles. This framework is foundational both to empirical and supernatural positions which distinguish a human milieu, which is moral, from a nonhuman milieu, which is not. It also provides a basis for evaluating four standard arguments for the rights ofnonhuman animals and nature-the ecological, the prudential, the sentimental, and the contractual. If reciprocity is taken as being central to the general concepts of rights and duties, then few animals, and no natural objects or natural systems, have rights and duties in an intrinsic or primary sense, although they may be assigned them in an extrinsic or secondary sense as a convenience in connection with human interests. Nevertheless, there are some animals besides humans - e.g., especially chimpanzees, gorillas, dolphins, and dogs - which, in accordance with good behavioral evidence, are moral entities, and sometimes moral agents. On the grounds of reciprocity, they merit, at aminimum, intrinsic or primary rights to life and to relief from unnecessary suffering
Keywords Applied Philosophy  General Interest
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 0163-4275
DOI 10.5840/enviroethics19791216
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 31,334
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Can the Treatment of Animals Be Compared to the Holocaust?David Sztybel - 2006 - Ethics and the Environment 11 (1):97-132.
Children and the Argument From 'Marginal' Cases.Amy Mullin - 2011 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (3):291-305.
Moral and Nonmoral Innate Constraints.Kathryn Paxton George - 1992 - Biology and Philosophy 7 (2):189-202.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Live Free or Die. [REVIEW]Joel Marks - 2010 - Animal Law 17 (1):243-250.
Moral Rights and Animals.H. J. McCloskey - 1979 - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 22 (1-4):23 – 54.
The Failure of Theories of Personhood.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1999 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 9 (4):309-324.
Animal Rights, Human Wrongs.Tom Regan - 1980 - Environmental Ethics 2 (2):99-120.
The Rights of Humans and Other Animals.Tom Regan - 1997 - Ethics and Behavior 7 (2):103 – 111.
On Assigning Rights to Animals and Nature.Anthony J. Povilitis - 1980 - Environmental Ethics 2 (1):67-71.
Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total downloads
32 ( #180,130 of 2,225,277 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #114,654 of 2,225,277 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature