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HUMANS AND NON-HUMANS. A Spectrum. “ Western ” paradigm emphasizes gulf between humans and animals. ■ Religious traditions: humans as “the crown of creation”, e.g. Judaism, Christianity, Islam. ■ Secular traditions: humans as unique autonomous, rational, moral. technological

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HUMANS ANDNON-HUMANS

A Spectrum


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Western” paradigm emphasizes gulf between humans and animals

■ Religious traditions: humans as “the crown of

creation”, e.g. Judaism, Christianity, Islam.

■ Secular traditions: humans as unique

autonomous, rational, moral. technological

language users e.g. Aristotle, Kant.

■ “Evolutionary ethics”: humans as “the crown of

evolution”, e.g. Huxley (but not Darwin!)


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Ecological perspective: fate of humans is bound up with fate of the rest of nature.

■ Midgley: natural human affinity towards other

animals.

■ Norton: scientific perspective implies harmony

with nature.

■ Traditional societies e.g. Maaori: all living

things are related, as descendents of Tane.


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of the rest of nature. Animal liberation: we have duties to all animals,

and their interests are (nearly) always equal to

those of Humans. (Singer)

■ Biocentric egalitarianism: we have duties to all

living things. (Taylor)

■ Nonanthropocentric environmental ethics: we

ought to pursue environmental justice because all

species are equal. (Sterba)


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of the rest of nature. We have duties to at least some “environmental

objects” (Stone).

■ We have (largely unspecified) duties to “the

land”. (Callicott, Leopold)

■ We have duties to inanimate objects e.g.

buildings, works of art.


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Anthropocentrism of the rest of nature.

■ Concept

All and only human beings have moral standing; or, the appropriate criterion of moral standing is membership in Homo sapiens.


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Applications of the rest of nature.

■We have duties concerning animals (as we

do concerning works of art or cars) but not to

animals.

►We may treat animals as we wish, except where the interests of others are affected, eg dog owners, recreational hunters, bird watchers (Baxter)

► We ought not to mistreat animals because if we do we are likely to become the kind of person who mistreats humans (Aquinas, Kant).


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of the rest of nature.“Weak anthropocentrism” - the human

interest requires a respect for natural

systems (Norton).

►Sustainability - obligations to future generations.

► Personal spiritual development - Buddhist monks, Jains, Ghandi.


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Sentience Based Ethics of the rest of nature.

■ Concept

All and only sentient beings have

moral standing.

►Sentience: ability to have sensations, to experience pleasure and pain.


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Key Philosophical Issues of the rest of nature.

■ What counts as having a sensation?

► How do we know that an animal is having a

sensation?

► Is “sensation” talk just an inference from behaviour?

■ Can we talk about anything except behaviour?

►Is there anything except behaviour?


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Applications of the rest of nature.

  • Descartes (and/or his followers): animals are non-sentient “machines” and so have no moral standing.

    ►Bentham, Singer: most animals are sentient, and it is wrong to cause them to suffer except where that would be the only way to create the best outcome.


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UTILITARIANISM of the rest of nature.Singer

  • Utilitarianism requires that all interests (or preferences) be taken equally into account.

    ►“Speciesism” - ignoring the interests of a being just because it belongs to another species - is wrong, just like racism and sexism.


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of the rest of nature.All sentient beings have an equal interest in

avoiding suffering, e.g. farming of animals

inflicts suffering – and also denies food to

starving people.

►We do not need (e.g.) to eat animal products.

► So we ought (e.g.) to become vegetarians.


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of the rest of nature. Similar argument against painful use of

animals, e.g.

► research

► product testing

► sport and entertainment.


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■ Is the analogy with racism and sexism valid? of the rest of nature.

■ Are the consequences the ONLY thing that

matters, morally?

■ How do we know that animals suffer?

■ Isn't “sentientism” just as bad a form of discrimination as speciesism?


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Sentience Based Ethics of the rest of nature.

■ Concept:

All and only beings with specific properties have moral standing.


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Applications of the rest of nature.

  • Regan: subjects of a life.

  • MA Warren, Tooley: self-concept.

  • Huxley: language.


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RIGHTS of the rest of nature.

Regan

■ All beings with certain properties are PERSONS,

regardless of race, sex or species.

■ Many non-humans are persons e.g. gods, aliens

(ET?), some animals - and e.g. irreversibly

comatose humans are not.

■ All persons have inherent value and not mere

instrumental value.


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of the rest of nature.All inherently valuable beings have rights:

► independently of consequences

► regardless of how many people recognize their rights.


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of the rest of nature.Rights may not be violated in order to

bring about good consequences.

► (e.g.) Killing animals for food violates their rights.

■ So we ought (e.g.) to become vegetarians

(etc.).


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SOME QUESTIONS FOR REGAN of the rest of nature.

■ Is the analogy with racism and sexism

valid?

■ Isn't “personism” just as bad a form of

discrimination as speciesism?

■ Why should we accept Regan's account of

personhood?


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of the rest of nature.How do we know that animals have the

properties of persons?

■ Is “moral atomism” adequate to deal with

environmental issues?


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RIGHTS FOR WHAT? of the rest of nature.

Humans?

Selected sentient beings?

All sentient beings?

All living beings?

Individual natural objects?

Places?

Works of art?

Corporations?

Cultures, peoples, nations?

Species?

Planets?

The universe?

Everything?


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