Duties regarding animals

In Lara Denis (ed.), Kant's Metaphysics of Morals: A Critical Guide. Cambridge University Press. pp. 210--233 (2010)
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A better appreciation of Kant’s commitments in a variety of disciplines reveals Kant had a deeper understanding of human and non-human animals than generally recognized, and this sheds new light on Kant’s claims about the nature and scope of moral status and helps to address, at least from Kant’s perspective, many of the familiar objections to his notorious account of “duties regarding animals.” Kant’s core principles about the nature of moral obligation structure his thoughts about the moral status of human beings and non-human animals. Kant’s commitments in biology, psychology, anthropology and physical geography support his account of the nature of and distinction between humans and non-human animals. This account supports Kant’s judgment that we have duties to every human being and significant duties regarding non-human animals, duties which involve direct concern for animals because of their nature. A comparison of Kant’s account with some recently proposed Kantian alternatives provides additional perspective on some of the distinctive features, and strengths and weaknesses, of Kant’s approach.



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Patrick Kain
Purdue University