Biology and Philosophy 30 (5):671-690 (2015)

Authors
Susana Monsó
Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia
Abstract
It is tempting to assume that being a moral creature requires the capacity to attribute mental states to others, because a creature cannot be moral unless she is capable of comprehending how her actions can have an impact on the well-being of those around her. If this assumption were true, then mere behaviour readers could never qualify as moral, for they are incapable of conceptualising mental states and attributing them to others. In this paper, I argue against such an assumption by discussing the specific case of empathy. I present a characterisation of empathy that would not require an ability to attribute mental states to others, but would nevertheless allow the creature who possessed it to qualify as a moral being. Provided certain conditions are met, a behaviour reader could be motivated to act by this form of empathy, and this means that behaviour readers could be moral. The case for animal morality, I shall argue, is therefore independent of the case for animal mindreading.
Keywords Empathy  Morality  Moral emotions  Nonhuman animals  Behaviour reading  Mindreading/theory of mind
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DOI 10.1007/s10539-015-9495-x
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References found in this work BETA

The Case for Animal Rights.Tom Regan - 2009 - In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Noûs. Oxford University Press. pp. 425-434.
Essays in Quasi-Realism.Simon Blackburn - 1993 - Oxford University Press.
The Case for Animal Rights.Tom Regan & Mary Midgley - 1986 - The Personalist Forum 2 (1):67-71.
The Case for Animal Rights.Tom Regan - 1985 - Human Studies 8 (4):389-392.

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Citations of this work BETA

Naïve Normativity: The Social Foundation of Moral Cognition.Kristin Andrews - 2020 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 6 (1):36-56.
Animal Morality: What is the Debate About?Simon Fitzpatrick - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (6):1151-1183.
Animal Moral Psychologies.Susana Monsó & Kristin Andrews - forthcoming - In John M. Doris & Manuel Vargas (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Moral Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.
Morality Without Mindreading.Susana Monsó - 2017 - Mind and Language 32 (3):338-357.

View all 9 citations / Add more citations

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