Anscombe famously argues that to act intentionally is to act under a description, and that “it is the agent's knowledge of what he is doing that gives the descriptions under which what is going on is the execution of an intention.” Further, she takes ‘knows’ to mean that the agent can give these descriptions herself. It would seem to follow that animals cannot act intentionally. However, she denies this, insisting that although animals cannot express intentions, they can have them. But (...) how can we speak without equivocation of humans and animals acting intentionally while maintaining that linguistic expressibility is an essential characteristic of only human action? The human capacity for articulation, I argue, transforms animal intention in the following way: Whereas animal intentions are immanent in their behavior, human action is an actualization of the power to make judgments about what is to-be-done; this confers on human intentions a distinctive sort of independence from behavior. (shrink)
This open access book revises Kant’s ethical thought in one of its most notorious respects: its exclusion of animals from moral consideration. The book gives readers in animal ethics an accessible introduction to Kant’s views on our duties to others, and his view that we have only ‘indirect’ duties regarding animals. It then investigates how one would have to depart from Kant in order to recognise that animals matter morally for their own sake. Particular attention is paid to Kant’s ‘Formula (...) of Humanity,' the role of autonomy and the moral law, as well as Kant’s notions of practical reason and animal instinct. The result is a deliberately amended version of Kantianism which nevertheless remains faithful to central aspects of Kant’s thought. The book’s final part illustrates the framework’s use in applied contexts, addressing the issues of using animals as mere means, the ethics of veganism and vegetarianism, and environmental protection. Nico Dario Müller shows how, when furnished with duties to animals, Kant's moral philosophy can be a powerful resource for animal ethicists. (shrink)
In his latest paper on animal agency, Glock (2019) presents a series of arguments to the extent that non-linguistic animals are capable of acting rationally and for reasons. This notwithstanding, he still denies them the ability to conceptualise reasons as reasons. I will argue that, in using Glock’s account, one can in fact claim that non- linguistic animals are capable of conceptualising reasons as reasons. For this, I will apply Glock’s own criteria for concept-possession to the concepts of a reason (...) and of intention. My argument will thus be twofold. First, I will directly argue for the idea that animals can conceptualise reasons as reasons. Second, I will refer to empirical research suggesting that animals attribute intentions to others. If the ability to conceptualise intentions really is necessary for conceptualising reasons, then this research should provide further plausibility to the claim that animals can conceptualise reasons as reasons. I thus submit that my arguments will further improve upon Glock’s account by (1) showing that animals can conceptualise reasons as reason, (2) lending further support to the idea that non-human animals can act rationally, and (3) providing some initial foundation for the claim that they can reason. (shrink)
A surge of empirical research demonstrating flexible cognition in animals and young infants has raised interest in the possibility of rational decision‐making in the absence of language. A venerable position, which I here call “Classical Inferentialism”, holds that nonlinguistic agents are incapable of rational inferences. Against this position, I defend a model of nonlinguistic inferences that shows how they could be practically rational. This model vindicates the Lockean idea that we can intuitively grasp rational connections between thoughts by developing the (...) Davidsonian idea that practical inferences are at bottom categorization judgments. From this perspective, we can see how similarity‐based categorization processes widely studied in human and animal psychology might count as practically rational. The solution involves a novel hybrid of internalism and externalism: intuitive inferences are psychologically rational (in the explanatory sense) given the intensional sensitivity of the similarity assessment to the internal structure of the agent's reasons for acting, but epistemically rational (in the justificatory sense) given an ecological fit between the features matched by that assessment and the structure of the agent's environment. The essay concludes by exploring empirical results that show how nonlinguistic agents can be sensitive to these similarity assessments in a way that grants them control over their opaque judgments. (shrink)
Michel de Montaigne famously argued in “Man is No Better Than the Animals” that humans and non-human animals cannot be dichotomized based on language or reasoning abilities, among other characteristics. This article examines a selection of writing features at play in the text and discusses how successfully they convey Montaigne’s claims. Throughout, I argue that Montaigne presents a superficially convincing case for doubting a categorical distinction between humans and animals on linguistic and rational grounds through the use of rhetorical questions, (...) listing, appeals to authority, point of view, imagery, and narrative anecdotes. However, Montaigne’s rejection of a human/animal distinction appears self-refuting since the form and content of his text both suggest that humans typically possess some degree of unique language and reasoning capacities. (shrink)
Are animals moral agents? In this article, a theologian and an anthropologist unite to bring the resources of each field to bear on this question. Alas, not all interdisciplinary conversations end harmoniously, and after much discussion the two authors find themselves in substantial disagreement over the answer. The article is therefore presented in two halves, one for each side of the argument. As well as presenting two different positions, our hope is that this article clarifies the different understandings of morality (...) in our respective fields and will help to offset confusion in interdisciplinary dialogue. In what follows, we each present our case. In the first section, Adam Willows argues that moral activity necessarily involves the use of reason, symbolic thought, and language and is on that basis an exclusively human affair. In the second, Marcus Baynes-Rock discusses his experience of relationality with other creatures; a relationality which, he argues, creates a shared understanding of obligations which are characteristically moral. (shrink)
In a number of articles, Hans-Johann Glock has argued against the »lingualist« view that higher mental capacities are a prerogative of language-users. He has defended the »assimilationist« claim that the mental capacities of humans and of non-human animals differ only in degree. In the paper under discussion, Glock argues that animals are capable of acting for reasons, provided that reasons are construed along the lines of the new »objectivist« theory of practical reasons.