Most people take it for granted that it's morally permissible to have children. They may raise questions about the number of children it's responsible to have or whether it's permissible to reproduce when there's a strong risk of serious disability. But in general, having children is considered a good thing to do, something that's morally permissible in most cases (perhaps even obligatory).
Mark Rowlands argues that, contrary to the dominant view, a Rawlsian theory of justice can legitimately be applied to animals. One of the implications of doing so, Rowlands argues, is an end to animal experimentation. I will argue, contrary to Rowlands, that under a Rawlsian theory there may be some circumstances where it is justifiable to use animals as experimental test subjects (where the individual animals are benefited by the experiments).
Rationality (or something similar) is usually given as the relevant difference between all humans and animals; the reason humans do but animals do not deserve moral consideration. But according to the Argument from Marginal Cases not all humans are rational, yet if such (marginal) humans are morally considerable despite lacking rationality it would be arbitrary to deny animals with similar capacities a similar level of moral consideration. The slippery slope objection has it that although marginal humans are not strictly speaking (...) morally considerable, we should give them moral consideration because if we do not we will slide down a slippery slope where we end up by not giving normal humans due consideration. I argue that this objection fails to show that marginal humans have the kind of direct moral status proponents of the slippery slope argument have in mind. (shrink)
In this paper I will examine two responses to the argument from marginal cases; the argument from kinds and the similarity argument. I will argue that these arguments are insufficient to show that all humans have moral status but no animals do. This does not prove that animals have moral status but it does shift the burden of proof onto those who want to maintain that all humans are morally considerable, but no animals are.
The topic of cruelty features regularly in discussions concerning animals’ moral status. Further, condemnation of cruelty to animals is virtually unanimous. As Regan points out, ‘[i]t would be difficult to find anyone who is in favour of cruelty.’ What is to count as cruelty is therefore important. My aim here is to gain a clearer understanding of one aspect of our moral landscape: cruelty to animals. I will start by analyzing the concept of cruelty in section II. In section III (...) I will examine some implications of this analysis. I will present two arguments for why we should reassess whether modern farming practices are cruel. First, farming practices have changed and our understanding of the concept of cruelty needs to change with them. Second, our application of the concept of cruelty is inconsistent: we would consider many routine practices involving farm animals to be cruel if they involved pets. This inconsistency presents a dilemma: either extending farming practices to pets would not be cruel, or continuing our current farming practices is cruel. In section IV I consider some objections. (shrink)
The fact that humans have a special relationship to each other insofar as they belong in the same species is often taken to be a morally relevant difference between humans and other animals, one which justifies a greater moral status for all humans, regardless of their individual capacities. I give some reasons why this kind of relationship is not an appropriate ground for differential treatment of humans and nonhumans. I then argue that even if relationships do matter morally species membership (...) cannot justify a difference in moral status. This has important implications because it removes one barrier to giving animals greater moral status. (shrink)
It is commonly thought that neo-Hobbesian contractarianism cannot yield direct moral standing for marginal humans and animals. However, it has been argued that marginal humans and animals can have a form of direct moral standing under neo-Hobbesian contractarianism: secondary moral standing. I will argue that, even if such standing is direct, this account is unsatisfactory because it is counterintuitive and fragile.
Marginal humans are not rational yet we still think they are morally considerable. This is inconsistent with denying animals moral status on the basis of their irrationality. Therefore, either marginal humans and animals are both morally considerable or neither are. In this paper I consider a major objection to this argument: that species is a relevant difference between humans animals.
If we are going to treat other species so very differently from our own — killing, eating and experimenting on pigs and sheep, for example, but never human beings — then it seems we need to come up with some morally relevant difference between us and them that justifies this difference in treatment. Otherwise it appears we are guilty of bigotry (in just the same way that someone who discriminates on the basis of race or sex is guilty of bigotry). (...) But what is this morally relevant difference? Julia Tanner's article examines, and rejects, some of the most popular answers to this question. -/- . (shrink)
The naturalistic fallacy is a source of much confusion. In what follows I will explain what G. E. Moore meant by the naturalistic fallacy, give modern day examples of it then mention some of the different types of views it has spawned. Finally, I will consider a few criticisms of it.
It matters a great deal whether animals have moral status. If animals have moral status, it may be wrong for us to use them as we currently do – hunting, farming, eating, and experimenting on them. The argument from marginal cases provides us with a reason to think that some animals have moral status that is equal to that of “marginal” humans.
Proponents of the argument from regress maintain that the existence of Instrumental Value is sufficient to establish the existence of Intrinsic Value. It is argued that the chain of instrumentally valuable things has to end somewhere. Namely with intrinsic value. In this paper, I shall argue something a little more modest than this. I do not want to argue that the regress argument proves that there is intrinsic value but rather that it proves that the idea of intrinsic value is (...) a necessary part of our thinking about moral value. (shrink)
Some may doubt whether the question of equality of opportunity applies to women anymore. In most Western countries every career is now, in theory, open to women. Firstly, while this may be true in Western countries, it is not true in others; there are still many careers barred to women outside the West. However, affirmative action is not a remedy where women are barred from given careers, for in such cases the principle of equality of opportunity has been rejected. Rather, (...) affirmative action is a measure for achieving equality of opportunity. (shrink)
Some philosophers (such as Kant and Rawls) think it is only wrong to be cruel to cats because it will make one behave cruelly to humans. This explanation is unsatisfactory. Why? Because being cruel to your cat is a direct wrong to your cat regardless of the effects it has on other humans. Ascribing the wrongness of cruelty to the fact it will make one callous to other humans is to assess the character of the cruel person not the act (...) they are performing. Cruelty to your cat is wrong because it wrongs your cat directly. (shrink)