Chapter

Reverence for Life

Mary Anne Warren

in Moral Status

Published in print March 2000 | ISBN: 9780198250401
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191681295 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198250401.003.0002

Series: Issues in Biomedical Ethics

Reverence for Life

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This chapter examines the ethic of Reverence for Life developed by Albert Schweitzer, and defended in modified form by some contemporary environmental ethicists. It argues that, although life is a plausible basis for according an entity a moral status that precludes killing it without good reason, it is not a sufficient condition for the full moral status that we want for ourselves and those we care about. Depending upon the definition of ‘life’ which we employ, it may not even be a necessary condition for full moral status. Should we someday meet or manufacture machines that were sentient and self-aware, we might or might not classify them as alive; but in either case we would probably be morally obliged to accord them a moral status as strong as that of naturally evolved organisms with comparable mental and behavioural capacities.

Keywords: Life Plus; Reverence for Life; Albert Schweitzer; moral status; life

Chapter.  10396 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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