Animal Mentality

Peter Carruthers

in The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780195371963
Published online May 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Animal Mentality

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This article continues the discussion of whether animals possess moral standing, which it considers to be the question of whether they are deserving of our sympathy and concern and whether they possess moral rights. It notes that the question of moral rights should receive a negative answer, even though it believes firmly in the evolutionary and cognitive continuities between humans and other animals. The first half of this article argues that pain and suffering of a great many animals do appropriately make them objects of sympathy, and it shows that they have minds with structures often similar to those of humans. However, the final half of this article turns to a defense of a contractualist perspective, which is that all humans, and probably no other animals, possess moral standing. From this contractualist perspective, morality is the outcome of an idealized contract among agents who can then constrain and guide their relations with others.

Keywords: moral right; moral standing; evolutionary continuities; humans; animals; contractualist perspective

Article.  17803 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science

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