“Our fellow creatures”

The Journal of Ethics 9 (3-4):353 - 380 (2005)
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This paper defends “moral individualism” against various arguments that have been intended to show that membership in the human species or participation in our distinctively human form of life is a sufficient basis for a moral status higher than that of any animal. Among the arguments criticized are the “nature-of-the-kind argument,” which claims that it is the nature of all human beings to have certain higher psychological capacities, even if, contingently, some human beings lack them, and various versions of the idea that there is a special form of life that all human beings share but of which no animal can be a full participant. The paper concludes that none of these arguments succeeds in demonstrating that there are moral reasons to permit animals to be treated less well than members of our own species whose psychological capacities and potential are no higher than those of the animals.

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Jeff McMahan
Oxford University

Citations of this work

The Grounds of Moral Status.Julie Tannenbaum & Agnieszka Jaworska - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:0-0.
Speciesism and Sentientism.Andrew Y. Lee - 2022 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 29 (3-4):205-228.
If Abortion, then Infanticide.David B. Hershenov & Rose J. Hershenov - 2017 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 38 (5):387-409.
On the very idea of criteria for personhood.Timothy Chappell - 2011 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 49 (1):1-27.
Relational nonhuman personhood.Nicolas Delon - forthcoming - Southern Journal of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

The Importance of Being Human.Cora Diamond - 1991 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 29:35-62.
Of mice and men: equality and animals.Peter Vallentyne - 2006 - In Nils Holtug & Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen (eds.), Egalitarianism: New Essays on the Nature and Value of Equality. Clarendon Press.

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