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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 AND NON-HUMANS

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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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■ 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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■ 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

■ 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

■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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■ “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

■ 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

■ 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

  • 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 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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■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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■ 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?

■ 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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  • Would PAINLESS farming and killing of animals be

    wrong?

  • What difference will MY actions make to animals

    - or to starving people?

  • Is “moral atomism” adequate to deal with

    environmental issues?


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Sentience Based Ethics

■ Concept:

All and only beings with specific properties have moral standing.


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Applications

  • Regan: subjects of a life.

  • MA Warren, Tooley: self-concept.

  • Huxley: language.


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RIGHTS

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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■All inherently valuable beings have rights:

► independently of consequences

► regardless of how many people recognize their rights.


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■ 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

■ 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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■ 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?

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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