Applying the Principles

Mary Anne Warren

in Moral Status

Published in print March 2000 | ISBN: 9780198250401
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191681295 | DOI:

Series: Issues in Biomedical Ethics

Applying the Principles

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This chapter reviews the principles proposed in Chapter 6. The first three principles refer to nested classes of entities: living organisms, sentient beings, and moral agents. Beings of each class have some moral status based upon their intrinsic properties. Organic life confers only a modest moral status; sentience confers a stronger moral status; and moral agency is sufficient (but not necessary) for full moral status. The fourth principle expands the community of moral equals to include sentient human beings who are not moral agents. Finally, the last three principles require the acceptance of special obligations to plants and animals of ecosystemically important species, and animal members of our social communities; and permit the acceptance of obligations to some non-living things that have ecosystemic importance, or that have special religious or spiritual value to some people.

Keywords: moral status; life; living organisms; sentient beings; moral agents

Chapter.  1386 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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