Why Do Species Matter?

Environmental Ethics 3 (2):101-112 (1981)
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One seldom-noted consequence of most recent arguments for “animal rights” or against “speciesism” is their inability to provide a justification for differential treatment on the basis of species membership, even in cases of rare or endangered species. I defend the claim that arguments about the moral status of individual animals inadequately deal with this issue, and go on, with the help of several test cases, to reject three traditional analyses of our alleged obligation to protect endangered species. I conclude that these traditional analyses fail, that there is an important conceptual confusion in any attempt to ascribe value to a species, and that our obligation must ultimately rest on the value---often aesthetic-of individual members of certain species.



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