Contractualism and Animals
Carruthers (Peter)
Source: Carruthers (Peter) - The Animals Issue: Moral Theory in Practice, Chapter 5
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. In this chapter I shall consider what a contractualist should say about the moral standing of animals.
  2. Throughout, I shall make the simplifying assumption that no animals should be counted as rational agents, in the sense that is central to contractualism. The extent to which this assumption is true will be examined in "Carruthers (Peter) - Animals and Rational Agency" (the chapter that follows).

Author’s Summary (Conclusion)
  1. No1 version of contractualism will accord moral standing to animals. There may, nevertheless, be indirect duties towards animals, owed out of respect for the legitimate concerns of animal lovers2. But the protection thus extended to animals is unlikely to be very great. Nor can this approach explain the common-sense intuition that unmotivated cruelty to an animal is directly3 wrong.
  2. Contractualists also face the challenge of extending direct moral rights to those human beings who are not rational agents.
  3. While the first two avenues discussed, through which contractualists might hope to grant such rights, were seen to fail, two others - a slippery slope argument, and an argument from social stability - proved successful4.


See Link.

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Presumably because animals cannot sign. But there could be a one-sided contract.

Footnote 2: This – while OK as far as it goes – does nothing to respect animals in themselves.

Footnote 3: I agree. What has Carruthers to say in response to this?

Footnote 4: I bet. Philosophical ethics just seems to be a way of intellectualising one’s prejudices.

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