We offer a relatively simple and straightforward argument that each of us ought to be vegan. We don’t defend this position by appealing to ‘animal rights’ or the view that animals and humans are ‘moral equals’. Rather, we argue that animal agriculture causes serious harms to other animals (such as pain, suffering and death) and these harms are morally unjustified or caused for no good reason. This is true for both ‘factory farming’ and smaller, so-called ‘humane’ farms. We argue that (...) attempts to justify these harms don’t succeed, and conclude that raising and killing animals for food is wrong. -/- In the second part of our essay we explain how this argument relates to the choices of individuals to buy and consume animal products. Since most people don’t raise and kill animals themselves, the argument above doesn’t directly address individuals’ daily choices. To address this concern, we offer a plausible, general moral principle that describes when consumers should not purchase or consume a product: most simply, we should not support those who act wrongly by seriously harming others, provided we can safely and easily do so. Since, for most people, it is safe and relatively easy to not support those who do wrong by raising and killing animals so they can be eaten, we should not buy or consume animal food products. -/- After making our case that we ought to be vegan, we respond to some of the more challenging objections to our argument. We argue that these objections don’t succeed and so, given our previous argument, nearly everyone is morally obligated to eat a vegan diet. (shrink)
To many, it seems like the debate of "when life begins" is irresolvable. This is unfortunate since this failure to make progress is largely a result of people not asking what the question means, or clarifying what is being asked, and listening carefully to try to understand the range of answers. -/- As a philosophy professor who teaches logic and critical thinking, I suggest that asking the simple, but powerful, question, "What do you mean?" and seeking to understand different answers (...) could help us move past this debate to more important, and challenging, ethical and legal questions about abortion. (shrink)
In December 2013, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) filed a petition for a common law writ of habeas corpus in the New York State Supreme Court on behalf of Tommy, a chimpanzee living alone in a cage in a shed in rural New York (Barlow, 2017). Under animal welfare laws, Tommy’s owners, the Laverys, were doing nothing illegal by keeping him in those conditions. Nonetheless, the NhRP argued that given the cognitive, social, and emotional capacities of chimpanzees, Tommy’s confinement constituted (...) a profound wrong that demanded remedy by the courts. Soon thereafter, the NhRP filed habeas corpus petitions on behalf of Kiko, another chimpanzee housed alone in Niagara Falls, and Hercules and Leo, two chimpanzees held in research facilities at Stony Brook University. Thus began the legal struggle to move these chimpanzees from captivity to a sanctuary, an effort that has led the NhRP to argue in multiple courts before multiple judges. The central point of contention has been whether Tommy, Kiko, Hercules, and Leo have legal rights. To date, no judge has been willing to issue a writ of habeas corpus on their behalf. Such a ruling would mean that these chimpanzees have rights that confinement might violate. Instead, the judges have argued that chimpanzees cannot be bearers of legal rights because they are not, and cannot be persons. In this book we argue that chimpanzees are persons because they are autonomous. (shrink)
"Nobis argues that Singer's consequentialist approach is inadequate for defending the moral obligation to become a vegetarian or vegan. The consequentialist case rests on the idea that being a vegetarian or vegan maximizes utility -- the fewer animals that are raised and killed for food, the less suffering. Nobis argues that this argument does not work on an individual level -- my becoming a vegetarian makes no difference to the overall utility of reducing animal suffering in a context of a (...) huge industry and market unaffected by my actions. Nobis merges the insights of virtue ethics with consequentialism to argue that individuals can bring about more goodness if they have the virtues of compassion, care, and sensitivity to unnecessary cruelty and suffering. If one ought to be compassionate, sensitive to cruelty, resist injustice, and be morally integrated, then, Nobis argues, one ought to be a vegetarian or vegan.". (shrink)
I argue that, contrary to what Tom Regan suggests, his rights view implies that subsistence hunting is wrong, that is, killing animals for food is wrong even when they are the only available food source, since doing so violates animal rights. We can see that subsistence hunting is wrong on the rights view by seeing why animal experimentation, specifically xenotransplanation, is wrong on the rights view: if it’s wrong to kill an animal to take organs to save a human life, (...) it’s wrong to kill an animal to eat that animal to save a human life or improve human health. I discuss these arguments’ implications for animal rights-based vegan advocacy, insofar as some people claim that they don’t feel their best on vegan diets and so their eating meat is morally justified. I argue that such an attempt to justify consuming animal products fails on Regan’s rights view, but discuss some attempts to morally excuse such violations of animals’ rights. These attempts are inspired by Regan’s attempts at potentially excusing animal rights advocates’ using medications developed using animals. (shrink)
Arguments are nowadays often presented as soundbites: as slogans, tweets, memes and even gifs. Arguments developed in detail often meet the response TL;DR (Too Long, Didn’t Read). This is unfortunate—especially when tackling the topic of abortion. Soundbites make many pro-life arguments seem stronger than they really are, while the complexities of pro-choice arguments can’t be readily reduced to soundbites.
Carl Cohen's arguments against animal rights are shown to be unsound. His strategy entails that animals have rights, that humans do not, the negations of those conclusions, and other false and inconsistent implications. His main premise seems to imply that one can fail all tests and assignments in a class and yet easily pass if one's peers are passing and that one can become a convicted criminal merely by setting foot in a prison. However, since his moral principles imply that (...) nearly all exploitive uses of animals are wrong anyway, foes of animal rights are advised to seek philosophical consolations elsewhere. I note that some other philosopher's arguments are subject to similar objections. (shrink)
We sometimes seek expert guidance when we don’t know what to think or do about a problem. In challenging cases concerning medical ethics, we may seek a clinical ethics consultation for guidance. The assumption is that the bioethicist, as an expert on ethical issues, has knowledge and skills that can help us better think about the problem and improve our understanding of what to do regarding the issue.The widespread practice of ethics consultations raises these questions and more:What would it take (...) to be a moral expert?Is anyone a moral expert, and if so, how could a non-expert identify one?Is it in any way problematic to accept and follow the advice of a moral expert as opposed to coming to moral conclusions on your own?What should we think and do when moral experts disagree about a practical ethical issue?In what follows, we address these theoretical and practical questions about moral expertise. (shrink)
We sometimes seek expert guidance when we don’t know what to think or do about a problem. In challenging cases concerning medical ethics, we may seek a clinical ethics consultation for guidance. The assumption is that the bioethicist, as an expert on ethical issues, has knowledge and skills that can help us better think about the problem and improve our understanding of what to do regarding the issue. The widespread practice of ethics consultations raises these questions and more: -/- • (...) What would it take to be a moral expert? • Is anyone a moral expert, and if so, how could a non-expert identify one? • Is it in any way problematic to accept and follow the advice of a moral expert as opposed to coming to moral conclusions on your own? • What should we think and do when moral experts disagree about a practical ethical issue? -/- In what follows, we address these theoretical and practical questions about moral expertise. (shrink)
This book introduces readers to the many arguments and controversies concerning abortion. While it argues for ethical and legal positions on the issues, it focuses on how to think about the issues, not just what to think about them. It is an ideal resource to improve your understanding of what people think, why they think that and whether their (and your) arguments are good or bad, and why. It's ideal for classroom use, discussion groups, organizational learning, and personal reading. -/- (...) From the Preface -/- To many people, abortion is an issue for which discussions and debates are frustrating and fruitless: it seems like no progress will ever be made towards any understanding, much less resolution or even compromise. -/- Judgments like these, however, are premature because some basic techniques from critical thinking, such as carefully defining words and testing definitions, stating the full structure of arguments so each step of the reasoning can be examined, and comparing the strengths and weaknesses of different explanations can help us make progress towards these goals. -/- When emotions run high, we sometimes need to step back and use a passion for calm, cool, critical thinking. This helps us better understand the positions and arguments of people who see things differently from us, as well as our own positions and arguments. And we can use critical thinking skills help to try to figure out which positions are best, in terms of being supported by good arguments: after all, we might have much to learn from other people, sometimes that our own views should change, for the better. -/- Here we use basic critical thinking skills to argue that abortion is typically not morally wrong. We begin with less morally-controversial claims: adults, children and babies are wrong to kill and wrong to kill, fundamentally, because they, we, are conscious, aware and have feelings. We argue that since early fetuses entirely lack these characteristics, they are not inherently wrong to kill and so most abortions are not morally wrong, since most abortions are done early in pregnancy, before consciousness and feeling develop in the fetus. -/- Furthermore, since the right to life is not the right to someone else’s body, fetuses might not have the right to the pregnant woman’s body—which she has the right to—and so she has the right to not allow the fetus use of her body. This further justifies abortion, at least, until technology allows for the removal of fetuses to other wombs. Since morally permissible actions should be legal, abortions should be legal: it is an injustice to criminalizing actions that are not wrong. -/- In the course of arguing for these claims, we: 1. discuss how to best define abortion; 2. dismiss many common “question-begging” arguments that merely assume their conclusions, instead of giving genuine reasons for them; 3. refute some often-heard “everyday arguments” about abortion, on all sides; explain why the most influential philosophical arguments against abortion are unsuccessful; 4. provide some positive arguments that at least early abortions are not wrong; 5. briefly discuss the ethics and legality of later abortions, and more. -/- This essay is not a “how to win an argument” piece or a tract or any kind of apologetics. It is not designed to help anyone “win” debates: everybody “wins” on this issue when we calmly and respectfully engage arguments with care, charity, honesty and humility. This book is merely a reasoned, systematic introduction to the issues that we hope models these skills and virtues. Its discussion should not be taken as absolute “proof” of anything: much more needs to be understood and carefully discussed—always. (shrink)
In a recent column, “Faith, science and the abortion debate: Do abortion rights advocates follow the facts, wherever they lead?” at Religion News Service (reposted at America as “In the abortion debate, it’s the pro-lifers who have science on their side”), theologian-bioethicist Charles Camosy reports that pro-choice advocates sometimes deny scientific facts that are relevant to abortion debates. This response critiques his comments.
This paper is designed to help people rationally engage moral issues regarding the treatment of animals, specifically uses of animals in medical and psychological experimentation, basic research, drug development, education and training, consumer product testing and other areas.
Two chapters -- "Common Arguments about Abortion" and "Better (Philosophical) Arguments About Abortion" -- in one file, from the open access textbook "Introduction to Ethics: An Open Educational Resource" edited by Noah Levin. -/- Adults, children and babies are arguably wrong to kill, fundamentally, because we are conscious, aware and have feelings. Since early fetuses entirely lack these characteristics, we argue that they are not inherently wrong to kill and so most abortions are not morally wrong, since most abortions are (...) done early in pregnancy before consciousness and feeling develop in the fetus. Furthermore, since the right to life is not the right to someone else’s body, fetuses might not have the right to the pregnant woman’s body, and so she has the right to not allow the fetus use of her body; this further justifies abortion, at least, until technology allows for the removal of fetuses to other wombs. Since morally permissible actions should be legal, abortions should be legal. -/- In the course of arguing for these claims, we: -/- discuss how to best define abortion; dismiss many common “question-begging” arguments that merely assume their conclusion, instead of giving genuine reasons for them; refute some often-heard “everyday arguments” about abortion; explain why some influential philosophical arguments against abortion are unsuccessful; provide some positive arguments that at least early abortions are not wrong; briefly discuss the ethics and legality of later abortions, and more. -/- Little of this discussion should be taken as absolute “proof” of anything, as this is merely a reasoned introduction to the issues: much more needs to be discussed, always. (shrink)
Collected and edited by Noah Levin -/- Table of Contents: -/- UNIT ONE: INTRODUCTION TO CONTEMPORARY ETHICS: TECHNOLOGY, AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, AND IMMIGRATION 1 The “Trolley Problem” and Self-Driving Cars: Your Car’s Moral Settings (Noah Levin) 2 What is Ethics and What Makes Something a Problem for Morality? (David Svolba) 3 Letter from the Birmingham City Jail (Martin Luther King, Jr) 4 A Defense of Affirmative Action (Noah Levin) 5 The Moral Issues of Immigration (B.M. Wooldridge) 6 The Ethics of our (...) Digital Selves (Noah Levin) -/- UNIT TWO: TORTURE, DEATH, AND THE “GREATER GOOD” 7 The Ethics of Torture (Martine Berenpas) 8 What Moral Obligations do we have (or not have) to Impoverished Peoples? (B.M. Wooldridge) 9 Euthanasia, or Mercy Killing (Nathan Nobis) 10 An Argument Against Capital Punishment (Noah Levin) 11 Common Arguments about Abortion (Nathan Nobis & Kristina Grob) 12 Better (Philosophical) Arguments about Abortion (Nathan Nobis & Kristina Grob) -/- UNIT THREE: PERSONS, AUTONOMY, THE ENVIRONMENT, AND RIGHTS 13 Animal Rights (Eduardo Salazar) 14 John Rawls and the “Veil of Ignorance” (Ben Davies) 15 Environmental Ethics: Climate Change (Jonathan Spelman) 16 Rape, Date Rape, and the “Affirmative Consent” Law in California (Noah Levin) 17 The Ethics of Pornography: Deliberating on a Modern Harm (Eduardo Salazar) 18 The Social Contract (Thomas Hobbes) -/- UNIT FOUR: HAPPINESS 19 Is Pleasure all that Matters? Thoughts on the “Experience Machine” (Prabhpal Singh) 20 Utilitarianism (J.S. Mill) 21 Utilitarianism: Pros and Cons (B.M. Wooldridge) 22 Existentialism, Genetic Engineering, and the Meaning of Life: The Fifths (Noah Levin) 23 The Solitude of the Self (Elizabeth Cady Stanton) 24 Game Theory, the Nash Equilibrium, and the Prisoner’s Dilemma (Douglas E. Hill) -/- UNIT FIVE: RELIGION, LAW, AND ABSOLUTE MORALITY 25 The Myth of Gyges and The Crito (Plato) 26 God, Morality, and Religion (Kristin Seemuth Whaley) 27 The Categorical Imperative (Immanuel Kant) 28 The Virtues (Aristotle) 29 Beyond Good and Evil (Friedrich Nietzsche) 30 Other Moral Theories: Subjectivism, Relativism, Emotivism, Intuitionism, etc. (Jan F. Jacko). (shrink)
Selfishness is often considered a vice and selfish actions are often judged to be wrong. But sometimes we ought to do what’s best for ourselves: in a sense, we sometimes should be selfish. -/- The ethical theory known as ethical egoism states that we are always morally required to do what’s in our own self-interest. The view isn’t that we are selfish—this is psychological egoism—but that we ought to be. -/- This essay explores ethical egoism and the main arguments for (...) and against it. -/- [Note: there are links for two versions below; a 1000 Word Philosophy version and a longer version in "Introduction to Ethics: An Open Educational Resource"]. (shrink)
In this book, law professors Sherry F. Colb and Michael C. Dorf argue that: -/- many non-human animals, at least vertebrates, are morally considerable and prima facie wrong to harm because they are sentient, i.e., conscious and capable of experiencing pains and pleasures; most aborted human fetuses are not sentient -- their brains and nervous systems are not yet developed enough for sentience -- and so the motivating moral concern for animals doesn't apply to most abortions; later abortions affecting sentient (...) fetuses, while rare, raise serious moral concerns, but these abortions -- like all abortions -- invariably involve the interests and rights of the pregnant woman, which can make these abortions morally permissible. For a book claiming to explore the "connections" between debates about the two issues, just the summary from the book flap -- basically, what's above -- makes it appear that there really isn't much connection between the topics, at least at the core ethical level. Animals are sentient, early fetuses are not, and so the moral arguments about the two issues don't overlap or share premises. While the authors hope to use insights from one issue to shed light on the other, I find that differences in the issues limit these insights. (shrink)
Sadly, there are people in very bad medical conditions who want to die. They are in pain, they are suffering, and they no longer find their quality of life to be at an acceptable level anymore. -/- When people like this are kept alive by machines or other medical treatments, can it be morally permissible to let them die? -/- Advocates of “passive euthanasia” argue that it can be. Their reasons, however, suggest that it can sometimes be not wrong to (...) actively kill some patients, i.e., that “active euthanasia” can be permissible also. This essay reviews these arguments. (shrink)
An introductory chapter on abortion that (1) reviews some common DEFINITIONS of abortion and argues that one definition is better than the others, (2) reviews and critiques some common QUESTION-BEGGING ARGUMENTS, on both sides of the issue, that have premises that merely assume the conclusion they are intended to support and (3) reviews and critiques many "EVERYDAY ARGUMENTS" on abortion, that is arguments that people without strong philosophical backgrounds give every day on the issues yet are poor good arguments. This (...) introductory chapter positions readers to better engage philosophical readings and arguments on the issues since it covers many background issues and concerns that are often not addressed in those readings. (shrink)
For the past few years in the United States, almost daily there’s a headline about new proposed abortions restrictions. Conservatives cheer, liberals despair. But who is right here? Should abortion be generally legal or should it be banned? Is it usually immoral or is it usually not wrong at all? These same questions, of course, are asked in other countries. To many people, answers to these questions seem obvious, and people with different or contrary answers are, well, just wrong. But (...) how can we know? In particular, could anyone know that abortion is not wrong and should be legal? If so, how? And how would anyone effectively, persuasively, communicate that knowledge? One important set of answers depends on this idea: critical thinking. Critical thinking can help people know, not merely believe or feel, that their perspectives on issues are true or correct, and it can help them persuade others to understand and accept that knowledge. We are philosophy professors who teach courses in critical thinking and its applications to ethical, political, scientific, and legal issues. In our 2019 open-access book, Thinking Critically About Abortion: Why Most Abortions Aren’t Wrong & Why All Abortions Should be Legal, we apply well-confirmed methods of critical thinking to the most discussed arguments about abortion. Critical thinking can be operationalized as skills. Three key critical thinking skills involve defining words, identifying the structures of arguments, and evaluating explanations. Understanding these and other critical thinking skills can only help improve conversations and advocacy about abortion. Let’s see them in action. (shrink)
Arguments for moral nihilism—the view that there are no moral truths—are criticized by showing that their major premises suggest epistemic or intellectual nihilism—the view that no beliefs are reasonable, justified, ought to be believed, and so on. Insofar as intellectual nihilism ought be rejected, this shows that the major premises of arguments for moral nihilisms ought to be rejected also.
In this brief, we argue that there is a diversity of ways in which humans (Homo sapiens) are ‘persons’ and there are no non-arbitrary conceptions of ‘personhood’ that can include all humans and exclude all nonhuman animals. To do so we describe and assess the four most prominent conceptions of ‘personhood’ that can be found in the rulings concerning Kiko and Tommy, with particular focus on the most recent decision, Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc v Lavery.
Tom Regan argues that human beings and some non-human animals have moral rights because they are “subjects of lives,” that is, roughly, conscious, sentient beings with an experiential welfare. A prominent critic, Carl Cohen, objects: he argues that only moral agents have rights and so animals, since they are not moral agents, lack rights. An objection to Cohen’s argument is that his theory of rights seems to imply that human beings who are not moral agents have no moral rights, but (...) since these human beings have rights, his theory of rights is false, and so he fails to show that animals lack rights. Cohen responds that this objection fails because human beings who are not moral agents nevertheless are the “kind” of beings who are moral agents and so have rights, but animals are not that “kind” of being and so lack rights. Regan argues that Cohen’s “kind” arguments fail: they fail to explain why human beings who are not moral agents have rights and they fail to show that animals lack rights. Since Cohen’s “kind” arguments are influential, I review and critique Regan’s objections . I offer suggestions for stronger responses to arguments like Cohen’s. (shrink)
Most abortions occur early in pregnancy. I argue that these abortions, and so most abortions, are not morally wrong and that the best arguments given to think that these abortions are wrong are weak. I also argue that these abortions, and probably all abortions, should be legal. -/- I begin by observing that people sometimes respond to the issue by describing the circumstances of abortion, not offering reasons for their views about those circumstances; I then dismiss “question-begging” arguments about abortion (...) that merely assume the conclusions they are given to support; most importantly, I evaluate many arguments: both common, often-heard arguments and arguments developed by philosophers. -/- My defense of abortion is based on facts about early fetuses’ not yet possessing consciousness or any mental life, awareness or feeling, as well as concerns about rights to one’s own body. (shrink)
An editorial / opinion piece on abortion: -/- "I’m a philosophy professor who specializes in medical ethics and I teach and write about the ethics of abortion. So I am very familiar with the medical, legal and – most importantly – ethical or moral issues related to HB 481, the so-called “heartbeat bill” that would effectively ban abortion in Georgia. At least hundreds of other philosophy, ethics and law professors in Georgia teach these ethical debates about abortion: they are also, (...) to varying degrees, experts on the issues. -/- What is taught is the arguments about the ethics of abortion, that is, the reasons to think that abortion is wrong and the reasons to think that it’s not wrong. Evaluating these arguments requires understanding and skill. Much of these skills amount to consistently asking ‘What do you mean?’ and ‘Why think that?’ We need better arguments on these issues, and asking and answering these questions helps with that. . .". (shrink)
In Putting Humans First: Why We Are Natures Favorite, Tibor Machan argues against moral perspectives that require taking animals' interests seriously. He attempts to defend the status quo regarding routine, harmful uses of animals for food, fashion and experimentation. Graham and Nobis argue that Machan's work fails to resist pro-animal moral conclusions that are supported by a wide range of contemporary ethical arguments.
We submit this brief in support of the Nonhuman Rights Project’s efforts to secure habeas corpus relief for the elephant named Happy. The Supreme Court, Bronx County, declined to grant habeas corpus relief and order Happy’s transfer to an elephant sanctuary, relying, in part, on previous decisions that denied habeas relief for the NhRP’s chimpanzee clients, Kiko and Tommy. Those decisions use incompatible conceptions of ‘person’ which, when properly understood, are either philosophically inadequate or, in fact, compatible with Happy’s personhood.
Some animal research is arguably morally wrong, and some animal research is morally bad but could be improved. Who is most likely to be able to identify wrong or bad animal research and advocate for improvements? I argue that philosophical ethicists have the expertise that makes them the likely best candidates for these tasks. I review the skills, knowledge and perspectives that philosophical ethicists tend to have which makes them ethical experts. I argue that, insofar as IACUCs are expected to (...) ensure that research is ethical, they must have philosophical ethicists as members. (shrink)
A basic criticism of Perry Hendrick's "Even if the fetus is not a person, abortion is immoral: The Impairment Argument," is offered, namely that the reasons why intentionally causing fetal alcohol syndrome is wrong simply do not apply to fetuses and so the "Impairment Argument" against abortion fails.
An introduction of the ethics of belief and application to current political debates, with the observation that people of all political persuasions have beliefs that are not based on strong evidence. -/- Also posted on Cardiff's "Open for Debate" blog.
Many historically-influential philosophers had profoundly wrong moral views or behaved very badly. Aristotle thought women were “deformed men” and that some people were slaves “by nature.” Descartes had disturbing views about non-human animals. Hume and Kant were racists. Hegel disparaged Africans. Nietzsche despised sick people. Mill condoned colonialism. Fanon was homophobic. Frege was anti-Semitic; Heidegger was a Nazi. Schopenhauer was sexist. Rousseau abandoned his children. Wittgenstein beat his young students. Unfortunately, these examples are just a start. -/- These philosophers are (...) famous for their intellectual accomplishments, yet they display serious moral or intellectual flaws in their beliefs or actions. At least, some of their views were false, ultimately unjustified and, perhaps, harmful. -/- How should we respond to brilliant-but-flawed philosophers from the past? Here we explore the issues, asking questions and offering few answers. Any insights gained here might be applicable to contemporary imperfect philosophers, scholars in other fields, and people in general. (shrink)
. . Tom Beauchamp and David DeGrazia's principles do improve upon the 3Rs which don’t mention the need for benefits from animal experimentation, the need to compare these benefits to animal harms, and provide no hard limits on experimentation. -/- However, they present their principles as “useful” for people engaged in animal research and as a “philosophically sound” (p. 4) framework for a new ethic for animal research. Regrettably, I have doubts about both these overall claims and so am pessimistic (...) about the book. (shrink)
Are *you* the same thing as your body? Did *you* begin at conception? Do you have a rational and free "nature" or "essence"? Some answer 'yes' to all and argue that this means that abortion is wrong. This argument is discussed here.
Is banning trans fat a bad policy? Resnik (2010) offers two general reasons for thinking so. First, because trans fat bans could lead to the government’s placing other objectionable restrictions upon food choices. Second, that, because we can adequately reduce trans fat consumption through education and mandatory labeling, bans are unnecessary. There are good reasons to reject both claims. First, since any slippery slope towards further restrictions on food choices is easily avoided, trans fat bans do not give the cause (...) for worry that Resnik suggests they do; second, trans fat bans are necessary, in the sense of “necessary” that is relevant to public health policy debates. (shrink)
As a medical ethicist, I want to explain why college vaccination requirements decidedly do not violate the core principles of medical ethics which include avoiding or lessening harms, promoting benefits, respecting people and their informed and free choices, and promoting justice and fairness. In particular, vaccine requirements do not violate the respect-related requirement to not selfishly “use” and abuse others as “means” for someone else’s benefit. Since false claims on important issues often have dire consequences, it’s important to explain why (...) medical ethics supports vaccinating college students. (shrink)
BackgroundTo determine whether the public and scientists consider common arguments in support of animal research convincing.MethodsAfter validation, the survey was sent to samples of public, Amazon Mechanical Turk, a Canadian city festival and children’s hospital), medical students, and scientists. We presented questions about common arguments to justify the moral permissibility of AR. Responses were compared using Chi-square with Bonferonni correction.ResultsThere were 1220 public [SSI, n = 586; AMT, n = 439; Festival, n = 195; Hospital n = 107], 194/331 medical (...) student, and 19/319 scientist [too few to report] responses. Most public respondents were <45 years, had some College/University education, and had never done AR. Most public and medical student respondents considered ‘benefits arguments’ sufficient to justify AR; however, most acknowledged that counterarguments suggesting alternative research methods may be available, or that it is unclear why the same ‘benefits arguments’ do not apply to using humans in research, significantly weakened ‘benefits arguments’. Almost all were not convinced of the moral permissibility of AR by ‘characteristics of non-human-animals arguments’, including that non-human-animals are not sentient, or are property. Most were not convinced of the moral permissibility of AR by ‘human exceptionalism’ arguments, including that humans have more advanced mental abilities, are of a special ‘kind’, can enter social contracts, or face a ‘lifeboat situation’. Counterarguments explained much of this, including that not all humans have these more advanced abilities [‘argument from species overlap’], and that the notion of ‘kind’ is arbitrary [e.g., why are we not of the ‘kind’ ‘sentient-animal’ or ‘subject-of-a-life’?]. Medical students were more supportive of AR at the end of the survey.ConclusionsResponses suggest that support for AR may not be based on cogent philosophical rationales, and more open debate is warranted. (shrink)
In this work I defend moral realism, the thesis that there are objective moral truths, by defending “epistemic realism.” Epistemic realism is the thesis that epistemic judgments, e.g., judgments that some belief is epistemically reasonable, or justified, or known or should be held, are sometimes true and made true by stance-independent epistemic facts and properties. -/- One might think that epistemic realism needs no defense because it is obviously true and nearly universally accepted. But there are influential arguments against moral (...) realism, which is analogous to epistemic realism: moral realists think that moral judgments, e.g., that something is morally good, or ought to be done, are sometimes true because there are stance-independent moral facts and properties. Moral irrealists deny this for a variety of semantic, metaphysical, psychological and epistemological reasons. They argue that moral judgments are neither true nor false since they are non-cognitive expressions of emotion or commands, or are never true since they fail to refer, or that their truth is “relative.” -/- Drawing on the moral irrealisms of Ayer, Stevenson, Hare, Mackie, Harman, and more recent thinkers, I construct parallel arguments for epistemic irrealisms. On these views, epistemic judgments are also merely expressive, a kind of command, always false, or relativistic in truth conditions: even “epistemic platitudes” like “justified beliefs are better than unjustified beliefs” and “ideally, one’s beliefs ought to be consistent” are understood not as epistemic propositions that might be believed (much less believed truly), or as attempts to accurately represent epistemic facts, or as attributions of epistemic properties. -/- The implications of these claims are highly at odds with common epistemological assumptions, even those that moral irrealists tend to accept. I argue that these implications are rationally unacceptable and that, therefore, the premises that support them should be rejected. Since these premises are those given in defense of moral irrealisms, I thereby defend both moral and epistemic realism. Thus, I argue that “oughts,” “shoulds” and other evaluative judgments are equally legitimate in both ethics and epistemology. (shrink)
Should people who believe in animal rights think that abortion is wrong? Should pro-lifers accept animal rights? If you think it’s wrong to kill fetuses to end pregnancies, should you also think it’s wrong to kill animals to, say, eat them? If you, say, oppose animal research, should you also oppose abortion? -/- Some argue ‘yes’ and others argue ‘no’ to either or both sets of questions. The correct answer, however, seems to be, ‘it depends’: it depends on why someone (...) accepts animal rights, and why someone thinks abortion is wrong: it depends on their reasons. (shrink)
We submit this brief in support of the Nonhuman Rights Project’s efforts to secure habeas corpus relief for the elephant named Happy. We reject arbitrary distinctions that deny adequate protections to other animals who share with protected humans relevantly similar vulnerabilities to harms and relevantly similar interests in avoiding such harms. We strongly urge this Court, in keeping with the best philosophical standards of rational judgment and ethical standards of justice, to recognize that, as a nonhuman person, Happy should be (...) released from her current confinement and transferred to an appropriate elephant sanctuary, pursuant to habeas corpus. (shrink)
Katie Watson (2022) writes that “If the Supreme Court shifts the question of legality in whole or in part to state legislatures, the ethics of abortion will become an even more intense subject of debate in public, academic, and clinical realms. Therefore, this is the moment for all bioethicists to strengthen our teaching, thinking, and writing in abortion ethics” (emphasis added). . . Persuading broader audiences that ethicists might be able to help advance pro-choice causes is thereby essential to implementing (...) Watson’s suggestion that bioethicists get more engaged. What good ethicists might do depends on others taking advantage of what they have to offer: that this would need to happen is my focus here. (shrink)
Frey sets the challenge for the other authors: to explain why, morally, no humans can be subject to the kinds of experiments that animals are subject to and to explain how researchers can reliablyuse animal models to understand and cure human disease. He thinks that the first challenge has not been met; the second challenge is, unfortunately, not directly addressed in this book. Adrian Morrison states that he “abhors” positions like Frey’s, Peter Singer’s and Tom Regan’s. He asserts that all (...) “human beings stand apart in a moral sense from all other species” and that all are worthy of “special consideration”. Regrettably he fails to defend his view by identifying the morally-relevant characteristics that all humans possess and all animals lack that might make his claim true. That omission prevents him from rationally criticizing opposing views. (shrink)
There are at least two models of what it is to be a feminist ethicist or moral philosopher. One model requires that one accept a distinctively feminist ethical theory. I will argue against this model by arguing that since the concept of a feminist ethical theory is highly unclear, any claim that ethicists who are feminist need one is also unclear and inadequately defended. I will advocate what I call a "minimal model" of feminist ethics, arguing that it is philosophically (...) and practically sufficient to meet feminist goals. (shrink)
In Principles of Animal Research Ethics, Tom Beauchamp and David DeGrazia (hereafter B&D) aim to replace the well-known “3Rs”—Replacing animal research with non-animal methods, Reducing the numbers of animals, and Refining experiments to reduce harms and improve welfare—as the guiding principles regulating animal research. . . B&D present their principles as “useful” for people engaged in animal research and as a “philosophically sound” (p. 4) framework for a new ethic for animal research. Regrettably, I have doubts about both these overall (...) claims and so am pessimistic about the book. (shrink)
|Scope: | |1. The first sentence should include the subject’s name, life span in | |parenthesis, and place and date of birth (day and month) if known (followed by | |mentioning early work on civil disobedience, perhaps) | |2. Outline key contributions to animal ethics, focusing on Animal Liberation | |and Practical Ethics | |3. Outline contributions to debates on poverty, relating this to environmental | |ethics | |4. Outline more recent work on globalization and climate change eg in One (...) World|. (shrink)
What is the moral status of animals? What’s the moral status of fetuses? What’s the moral status of the permanently comatose? While questions like these are sometimes asked (also about ‘moral standing’), I have written a few paragraphs where I argue that the term “moral status” shouldn’t be used.