Delimiting justice: Animal, vegetable, ecosystem?

Les Ateliers de l'Éthique / the Ethics Forum 13 (1):210-230 (2018)
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ANGIE PEPPER | : This paper attempts to bring some clarity to the debate among sentientists, biocentrists, and ecocentrists on the issue of who or what can count as a candidate recipient of justice. I begin by examining the concept of justice and argue that the character of duties and entitlements of justice sets constraints on the types of entities that can be recipients of justice. Specifically, I contend that in order to be a recipient of justice, one must be the bearer of enforceable moral claim rights. I then suggest that this has important implications for the dispute among sentientists, biocentrists, and ecocentrists. In brief, I show that sentientists cannot exclude nonsentient entities from the domain of justice merely by denying that they have “the right kind of interests,” and biocentrists and ecocentrists cannot move seamlessly from some feature of living things or ecosystems to entitlements of justice. I further argue that ultimately this disagreement on the bounds of justice bottoms out in a normative disagreement about which entities possess moral claim rights, and that the case for biotic or ecosystem rights has yet to be convincingly established. | : Le présent article vise à clarifier le débat parmi sentientistes, biocentristes et écocentristes autour de la question de qui ou de ce qui peut valoir comme un récipiendaire légitime de justice. Pour débuter, j’examine le concept de justice et soutiens que la nature des obligations et droits de la justice impose des contraintes sur les types d’entités pouvant être récipiendaires de justice. Plus particulièrement, je prétends que tout récipiendaire de justice doit être titulaire de droits de revendication morale applicables. Je propose ensuite que cette thèse a des conséquences importantes pour la querelle parmi les sentientistes, les biocentristes et les écocentristes. En bref, je démontre que les sentientistes ne peuvent exclure les êtres nonsentients du domaine de la justice simplement en niant qu’ils ont des « intérêts de la bonne sorte », alors que les biocentristes et écocentristes ne peuvent passer sans difficultés d’un aspect quelconque des êtres vivants ou des écosystèmes à des droits de justice. Enfin, je soutiens que ce désaccord sur les limites de la justice repose, en fin de compte, sur un désaccord d’ordre normatif à propos des entités possédant des droits de revendication morale, et que l’argument pour des droits propres aux êtres vivants ou aux écosystèmes n’a toujours pas été prouvé de manière convaincante.



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Angie Pepper
University of Roehampton

Citations of this work

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