- In this chapter I shall confront the problem left over from Chapter 5 ("Carruthers (Peter) - Contractualism and Animals"), arguing that there is a way in which contractualism can accommodate duties towards animals that is independent of the question of offence caused to animal lovers.
- I shall then investigate just how extensive these duties may be, on the resulting account.
Author’s Summary (Conclusion)
- Contractualism withholds direct moral rights from animals, while at the same time granting them to all human beings. Yet contractualism can explain our common-sense belief that animals should not be caused to suffer for trivial reasons, since causing such suffering is expressive of a cruel character.
- This position is sufficiently plausible1 to be acceptable under reflective equilibrium. But the constraints thus justified are minimal. Contractualism certainly provides no support for those who would wish to extend still further the moral protection already available to animals.
- Bah! This just highlights the difference between consequentialist and non-consequentialist ethics.
- The primary reason it’s wicked to cause gratuitous suffering to an animal is that it’s bad for the animal to be so treated, not that “causing such suffering is expressive of a cruel character”.
- While it certainly is, so is the torturing of something falsely believed to be sentient. The proposed principle doesn’t distinguish the cases.
- Also, as another objection, compare the actions of Nazis or slave-owners who didn’t consider the recipients of their brutalities as human, or as those they were “contracted” to protect.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2019
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)