Are All Species Equal?

David Schmidtz

in The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Are All Species Equal?

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This article considers the defensibility of “species egalitarianism”—the position that all living things have equal moral standing and therefore all species command our respect. It challenges the view that there are good reasons to believe that all living things have moral standing in even a minimal sense. It explains why members of other species understandably and justifiably command our respect, but also why they cannot command equal respect. It also argues that there is reason to doubt that species egalitarianism is compatible with true respect for nature. The theory improperly suggests that the moral standing of dolphins is no higher than that of tuna, and that the standing of chimpanzees is no higher than that of mice. Such a view does not give dolphins and chimpanzees the respect they deserve.

Keywords: species egalitarianism; moral standing; command respect; nature

Article.  6451 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science

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