The Moral Life of Animals

Michael Bradie

in The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Moral Life of Animals

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This article raises two main questions: “Do nonhuman animals have minds?” and “What implications, if any, does the answer have for their moral status?” It argues that a former tide against animal mentality and moral status has changed over the past 150 years, leading to the present muddled set of opinions. It notes that evolutionary evidence supports the claim that there are no significant qualitative differences between humans and other animals. Also, evidence from cognitive ethology indicates that many animals possess the neural architecture necessary for sophisticated cognitive and affective behavior, and that they manifest moral sensibility. It concludes that human beings are one among the animals and that human moral systems are one among the moral systems of animals.

Keywords: moral system; animals; moral status; animal mentality; humans

Article.  13612 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science

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