Is there a Rawlsian Argument for Animal Rights?

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (4):973-984 (2016)

Abstract

Mark Rowlands defends a Rawlsian argument for animal rights, according to which animals have rights because we would assign them rights when deciding on the principles of morality from behind a veil of ignorance. Rowlands’s argument depends on a non-standard interpretation of the veil of ignorance, according to which we cannot know whether we are human or non-human on the other side of the veil. Rowlands claims that his interpretation of the veil is more consistent with a core commitment of Rawlsian justice—the intuitive equality principle—than either Rawls or his critics realize. Here I argue that Rawls is not committed to the intuitive equality principle, as Rowlands articulates it, and hence Rowlands’s argument is in fact only superficially Rawlsian. Furthermore, Rowlands’s intuitive equality principle is dubious on its own terms, and thus a poor principle on which to base a case for animal rights.

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Author's Profile

David Svolba
Fitchburg State University

References found in this work

A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
Are There Any Natural Rights?H. L. A. Hart - 1955 - Philosophical Review 64 (2):175-191.
Justice as Fairness: A Restatement.C. L. Ten - 2003 - Mind 112 (447):563-566.
The Case for Animal Rights.Tom Regan & Mary Midgley - 1986 - The Personalist Forum 2 (1):67-71.

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Citations of this work

¿Caben los animales en la filosofía política de John Rawls?Pablo Magaña - 2022 - Isonomía. Revista de Teoría y Filosofía Del Derecho 56.

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