A defense of amorality as both philosophically justified and practicably livable. While in synch with their underlying aim of grounding human existence in a naturalistic metaphysics, this book takes both the new atheism and the mainstream of modern ethical philosophy to task for maintaining a complacent embrace of morality. It advocates instead replacing the language of morality with a language of desire. The book begins with an analysis of what morality is and then argues that the concept is not instantiated (...) in reality. Following this, the question of belief in morality is addressed: How would human life be affected if we accepted that morality does not exist? The book argues that at the very least, a moralist would have little to complain about in an amoral world, and at best we might hope for a world that was more to our liking overall. An extended look at the human encounter with nonhuman animals serves as an illustration of amorality’s potential to make both theoretical and practical headway in resolving heretofore intractable ethical problems. (shrink)
This book broadens the inquiry into emotion to comprehend a comparative cultural outlook. It begins with an overview of recent work in the West, and then proceeds to the main business of scrutinizing various relevant issues from both Asian and comparative perspectives. Original essays by experts in the field. Finally, Robert Solomon comments and summarizes.
The use of other animals for human purposes is as contentious an issue as one is likely to find in ethics. And this is so not only because there are both passionate defenders and opponents of such use, but also because even among the latter there are adamant and diametric differences about the bases of their opposition. In both disputes, the approach taken tends to be that of applied ethics, by which a position on the issue is derived from a (...) fundamental moral commitment. This commitment in turn depends on normative ethics, which investigates the various moral theories for the best fit to our moral intuitions. Thus it is that the use of animals in biomedical research is typically defended by appeal to a utilitarian theory, which legitimates harm to some for the greater good of others; while the opposition condemns that use either by appeal to the same theory, but disagreeing about the actual efficacy of animal experimentation, or by appeal to an alternative theory, such as the right of all sentient beings not to be exploited. Unfortunately, the normative issue seems likely never to be resolved, hence leaving the applied issue in limbo. The present essay seeks to circumvent this impasse by dispensing altogether with any moral claim or argument, thereby cutting the Gordian knot of animal ethics with a meta-ethical sword. The alternative schema defended is simply to advance relevant considerations, whereupon “there is nothing left but to feel.” In a word, motivation replaces justification. (shrink)
Ought Implies Kant defends Kantianism via a critical examination of consequentialism. The latter is shown to be untenable on epistemic grounds; meanwhile, the charge that Kantianism is really consequentialism in disguise is refuted. The book also presents a novel interpretation of Kantianism as according direct duties to other animals.
Collection of original essays on the theory of desire by Robert Audi, Annette Baier, Wayne Davis, Ronald de Sousa, Robert Gordon, O.H. Green, Joel Marks, Dennis Stampe, Mitchell Staude, Michael Stocker, and C.C.W. Taylor.
It is common to argue that animal experimentation is justified by its essential contribution to the advancement of medical science. But note that this argument actually contains two premises: an empirical claim that animal experimentation is essential to the advancement of medical science and an ethical claim that if research is essential to the advancement of medical science, then it is justified. Both claims are open to challenge, but in the logic of the case, only one of them needs to (...) be shown false or moot in order to refute the argument. I argue that the ethical claim does not withstand scrutiny. In addition, the main so-called “alternatives” to animal research do not merit that label since they still involve the use of nonhuman animals. (shrink)
In apparent conflict with the popular conception of veterinarians as animals' best friends, the Veterinarian's Oath, as well as its clarifying Principles of Animal Welfare, imply that animal welfare is entirely derivative from human welfare. This article calls for an explicit alignment of the Oath and Principles with the priority of nonhuman animals.
Review of Lee Hall's book, Capers in the Churchyard: Animal Rights Advocacy in the Age of Terror. Ostensibly about tactics in the animal rights movement, the book is in fact a manifesto for thinking about nonhuman animals in a wholly different way from what we have become accustomed to. The review focuses on the welfare/rights debate in the animal movement.
In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice, “When I use a word … it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” When Alice questions this license, Humpty Dumpty replies, “The question is … which is to be master — that’s all.” The present article offers a lexicon of words that are used by human beings, however unintentionally or ingenuously, to maintain their mastery or prerogatives over other animals. A motivating (...) assumption of the article is that putting on display the verbal menagerie in animal agriculture, animal experimentation, and the rest of the industries and institutions that use nonhuman animals, could go a long way toward eliminating these enterprises, since they are built as much on equivocation as on exploitation. (shrink)
Taking as its starting point that morality does not exist (moral error theory), this chapter tries to persuade the reader to eradicate it from her psyche as well (moral abolitionism). It is argued further that the most effective way to rid oneself (and society) of moralist attitudes would be to eliminate moralist vocabulary and manners of speaking and, indeed, to the greatest degree practicable, all normative vocabularies and manners of speaking. This is because moralism lies deep and pervasively in the (...) human psyche and hence requires a special effort to root it out. A particular problem is how to eradicate moralism from the abolitionist project itself. For the natural way to think about it is as advocating that we ought to be amoral or that being amoral would make this a better world. But these are themselves moralist ways of thinking. This chapter seeks to obviate this problem, as well as fill the void left by morality’s elimination, by defending a positive ethics of desire (desirism). (shrink)
What is the point of teaching about abortion, euthanasia, and capital punishment, if the students are cheating in the course? As much as eighty per cent of our students cheat. Cheating is the norm. Furthermore, ethics courses are not immune. I decided, therefore, to seize the bull by the horns and challenge my ethics students not to cheat. I employed a form of so-called contract grading, which placed the burden of honesty on the students instead of the usual cat-and-mouse of (...) teacher enforcement. Herein I report on the results of this ten-year experiment. (shrink)
It is now generally recognized that Earth is at risk of a devastating collision with an asteroid or a comet. Impressive strides in our understanding of this threat have been made in recent decades, and various efforts to deal with it have been undertaken. However, the pace of government action hasn’t kept up with the advance of our knowledge. Despite the daunting dimensions of planetary defense, one intrepid NGO has stepped up to the plate: The B612 Foundation has embarked on (...) a half-billion-dollar project, called Sentinel, to map the estimated one million near-Earth objects that could wipe out a city or even end civilization. This article offers an explanation of how it came to be that private citizens have assumed what is arguably government’s primary mandate to "provide for the common defence." It then examines some of the practical – or, if you will, ethical – risks that may be attendant on such a shift of responsibility. Finally, a new policy emphasis is proposed. (shrink)
Animal research is a challenging issue for the animal advocate because of what, besides animal well-being, is considered to be at stake, namely, human health. This article seeks to vindicate the antivivisectionist position. The standard defense of animal research as promoting the overwhelming good of human health is refuted on both factual and logical, or normative-theoretical, grounds. The author then attempts to clinch the case by arguing that animal research violates a deontic principle. However, this principle falls to counterexample. The (...) author concludes, nevertheless, that the principle retains force as a presumption that the current state of affairs fails to overthrow. This does suggest, though, that the antivivisection movement would be well advised to keep ahead of the curve. The author proposes it do so by emulating the vegan movement against animal agriculture with the active promotion of alternatives to animal research. (shrink)
In On Their Own Terms (Darien, CT: Nectar Bat Press, 2010), Lee Hall articulates a theory that wild animals, due to their autonomous nature, are endowed with rights, but domesticated animals lack rights because they are not autonomous. Hall then argues that the rights of wild animals require that humans let them alone, and that, despite the fact that domestic animals lack rights, humans are required to take care of them because it is humans who brought them into existence. While (...) sympathetic to Hall's aims, this review concludes that Hall’s theory denies rights to domestic animals only by employing theoretical means that are uncomfortably analogous to how others have denied rights to all nonhuman animals. (shrink)