Gary E. Varner

in Personhood, Ethics, and Animal Cognition

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199758784
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949465 | DOI:

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This introductory chapter discusses the concept of personhood, and provides a general overview of Hare’s theory. In day-to-day speech, “person” is often used synonymously with “human being,” but in philosophical discussions of personhood, persons are defined as individuals who deserve special treatment or respect in virtue of having certain cognitive capacities. The burden of proof is on the proponent of a particular definition to show why having those cognitive capacities qualifies one for special moral respect. Hare distinguishes between what he calls “critical level” moral thinking, which is explicitly utilitarian, and what he calls “intuitive level” moral thinking, which follows sets of rules that may be very non-utilitarian in flavor. The overview of Hare’s theory in this chapter emphasizes the place of animals and how, in particular, Hare’s two level utilitarianism can incorporate aspects of both animal welfare and animal rights views.

Keywords: persons; personhood; moral thinking; R.M. Hare; utilitarianism; animal welfare; animal rights

Chapter.  11340 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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