Paola Cavalieri

in The Animal Question

Published in print January 2002 | ISBN: 9780195143805
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833122 | DOI:

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Despite bioethical discussions of its moral irrelevance, membership in the species Homo sapiens is still appealed to as a criterion for access to superior moral status. Along the lines of the authors who have equated ”speciesism” with racism and sexism, I challenge this view on several grounds. I claim that biological characteristics cannot carry direct moral weight. I maintain that species membership cannot be referred to as a mark of a more complex mental endowment because some nonparadigmatic human beings are not so endowed. Finally, I argue that relational defenses of the moral relevance of species membership are either prejudiced or circular.

Keywords: Homo sapiens; human beings; humans; moral significance; species; speciesism

Chapter.  6821 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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