Animals That Act for Moral Reasons

Mark Rowlands

in The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Animals That Act for Moral Reasons

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This article argues that some animals are moral subjects in the sense that they can be, and sometimes are, motivated by moral considerations. It argues that there are no empirical or conceptual obstacles to regarding some animals as motivated by moral concerns. To suppose otherwise, the discussion notes, is to fall victim to certain views that invest quasi-magical properties in “meta-cognition”—properties that afford humans a status of a sort possessed by no other beings. It argues that the sentiments of animals can be genuinely moral ones and that there are no compelling reasons to suppose that these animals are not moral subjects that can be morally evaluated—even if they cannot be moral agents.

Keywords: moral subjects; meta-cognition; animal sentiments; moral agents; humans

Article.  14144 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science

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