Inside Cover Blurb
- Christine M. Korsgaard presents a compelling new view of humans' moral relationships to the other animals. She defends the claim that we are obligated to treat all sentient beings as what Kant called "ends-in-themselves". Drawing on a theory of the good derived from Aristotle, she offers an explanation of why animals are the sorts of beings for whom things can be good or bad. She then turns to Kant's argument for the value of humanity to show that rationality commits us to claiming the standing of ends-in-ourselves, in two senses. Kant argued that as autonomous beings, we claim to be ends-in-ourselves when we claim the standing to make laws for ourselves and each other. Korsgaard argues that as beings who have a good, we also claim to be ends-in-ourselves when we take the things that are good for us to be good absolutely and so worthy of pursuit. The first claim commits us to joining with other autonomous beings in relations of moral reciprocity. The second claim commits us to treating the good of every sentient creature as something of absolute importance.
- Korsgaard argues that human beings are not more important than the other animals, that our moral nature does not make us superior to the other animals, and that our unique capacities do not make us better off than the other animals. She criticizes the "marginal cases" argument and advances a new view of moral standing as attaching to the atemporal subjects of lives. She criticizes Kant's own view that our duties to animals are indirect, and offers a non-utilitarian account of the relation between pleasure and the good. She also addresses a number of directly practical questions: whether we have the right to eat animals, experiment on them, make them work for us and fight in our wars, and keep them as pets; and how to understand the wrong that we do when we cause a species to go extinct.
Back Cover Affidavits
- “Fellow Creatures: Our Obligations to the Other Animals is a blend of moral passion and rigorous theoretical argument... this book provides the opportunity for a wider audience to see how philosophical reflection can enrich the response to a problem that everyone should be concerned about. Korsgaard’s position is undeniably powerful, and if it prevailed it would be one of the largest moral transformations in the history of humanity.”
→ Thomas Nagel, The New York Review of Books
- “Christine Korsgaard has written an admirable book, accessible, cogently-argued, and thoughtful. She writes with bravery and humility, and perhaps most notably, with passion. It is evident that Korsgaard cares about the plight of animals, and yet the work is void of mawkish sentimentalism. All philosophers would benefit from a close reading; for any who are even remotely interested in animal ethics, reading Fellow Creatures is obligatory.... she is swimming against the tide. She is an outstanding swimmer, one of the most worthy animal advocates in the last half-century.... I strongly recommend reading this book. You and, I hope, your fellow creatures, will be better off for it.”
→ Mark H. Bernstein, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
- “Christine Korsgaard achieves in a small volume ... a virtuosity of presentation that combines readable sentences, accessible arguments and a deep care for non-human animals.”
→ Paul Waldau, Times Higher Education
Preface – xi
- Human Beings and the Other Animals
- Are People More Important than the Other Animals? – 3
- Animal Selves and the Good – 16
- What’s Different about Being Human? – 36
- The Case against Human Superiority – 53
- Immanuel Kant and the Animals
- Kant, Marginal Cases, and Moral Standing – 77
- Kant against the Animals, Part 1: The Indirect Duty View – 97
- Kant against the Animals, Part 2: Reciprocity and the Grounds of Obligation – 115
- A Kantian Case for Our Obligations to the Other Animals – 131
- The Role of Pleasure and Pain – 156
Bibliography – 239
- The Animal Antinomy, Part 1: Creation Ethics – 173
- Species, Communities, and Habitat Loss – 191
- The Animal Antinomy, Part 2: Abolition and Apartheid – 215
Index – 247
"Korsgaard (Christine) - Fellow Creatures: Preface"
Source: Korsgaard (Christine) - Fellow Creatures: Preface
Full Text (most of the Acknowledgements removed)
- In this book I defend the claim that we human beings are obligated to treat all sentient animals, that is, all animals who have subjective experiences that are pleasant or painful, as what Kant called “ends in themselves,” at least in one sense of that notion. I also try to say something about what those obligations are, for like most people who write about this subject, I think that the way human beings now treat the other animals is a moral atrocity of enormous proportions. But the book is also about some of the philosophical perplexities that I now think make this subject fascinating. When I became a vegetarian many years ago, it was for moral reasons, but they did not strike me as being philosophically interesting enough to write about. I thought it was obvious that you need a good reason to kill an animal, and that since we do not need to eat meat, we do not have one. In a way, the central issue still seems almost that simple to me. As I will argue, we take the things that are good for us to be good absolutely, both in the sense that we take them to be worthy of pursuit and in the sense that we take them to be the legitimate basis for making claims on other people. When we come to understand why we do that, we see that we are committed to the view that every creature for whom things can be good or bad has moral claims on us.
- My argument is framed by two philosophical commitments: to the basic correctness of Kant’s account of why we have obligations, and to a particular theory, derived from Aristotle, about why some things are good and some bad — that is, why there is such a thing as good and bad at all. The elements of my own view can be found in Chapter 2, where I spell out the theory of the good in question, and in Chapter 8, where I explain why I think Kant’s argument for the Formula of Humanity supports the moral claims of animals. While it is a familiar point in the animal ethics literature that you can believe animals have moral claims or rights without believing they have the same moral claims or rights as people, I also believe that the basis of our obligations to animals is not exactly the same as the basis of our obligations to other people. I reject Kant’s view that our duties to animals are “indirect,” that is, owed to ourselves rather than to the animals. But I think there is something right about his view that our moral obligations to the other animals arise from something about our relations to ourselves, while our obligations to other people arise from the relations of reciprocity in which we stand with them. There are two different though related senses of being an “end in oneself,” two different senses in which a creature can be a source of laws or claims for us. I explain all this in Chapter 8.
- Along the way to explaining my position, I raise questions about how human beings are different from the other animals, whether human beings are more important than the other animals, and whether we are in any sense superior to the other animals. I ask what it means to have moral standing and what sort of thing can have it, and how exactly pleasure and pain are related to things being good or bad. Although I end up agreeing with the utilitarians about which creatures have moral standing, my views on the two issues I just mentioned are very different from theirs, as I explain in Chapter 5 and Chapter 9, respectively. In the last three chapters of the book, I turn to straightforward ethical questions. I ask whether those who champion the moral claims of animals are committed to the idea that we should try to put an end to predation, as people often claim. I offer an account of how we should understand the wrong we do when a species goes extinct because of human activity. I explain what my view implies about familiar issues such as eating animals, the use of working animals and animals in the military, the use of animals in research experiments, and whether we should keep pets1.
- It is one of the perennial problems of trying to write about philosophy that you are haunted by the idea that your reader will not really understand anything you say until after she has understood everything you say. Although the other chapters in this book of course draw on the ideas presented in Chapters 2 and 8, I have tried to write the other chapters of the book so that, as far as possible, they can be read as independent treatments of their various topics. An exception is Chapters 10 and 11, since one of the questions in Chapter 10 — whether it would be a good idea to eliminate predation if we could—cannot be answered until the question of Chapter 11 — how we are to understand what is bad about a species going extinct — is resolved.
- By the time you reach a certain age in philosophy, the burden of your intellectual debts is so heavy that you cannot face writing acknowledgments without a profound sense of inadequacy. What I say here will necessarily be selective, probably arbitrarily so. I first tried to write about how you could make a Kantian case for duties to animals when I was invited to give the Tanner Lecture at Michigan in 2004. … I produced a somewhat distant ancestor of the present book in a series of lectures I called “Moral Animals,” delivered as the David Ross Boyd lectures at the University of Oklahoma in 2007. The present book most immediately comes out of the Uehiro Lectures I delivered at Oxford in 2014. … Peter Godfrey-Smith helped me with the sections in which I talk about what a species is. … I will restrain my desire to personally thank all of the pets I’ve ever had, and all of the sparrows and squirrels who have dined at my feeder over the years, for sharing my life and for making me think. Instead I will settle for dedicating this book to just a few of them, the cats who have been the home companions of my adult life.
In-Page Footnotes ("Korsgaard (Christine) - Fellow Creatures: Preface")
- Some people think that the use of the term “pet” is demeaning, and prefer to say “companion animals.” I think it is demeaning to call a person a “pet” if that is taken to imply a pampered and dependent favorite. People are not supposed to be pampered and dependent, or to benefit from favoritism. But I do not think it is demeaning to call an animal companion a “pet” if the animal is in fact a pampered and dependent favorite. There is nothing wrong with a domestic animal being pampered and dependent. However, many animal companions are not, or not just, pampered and dependent favorites, since they have work to perform in their households. Seeing-eye dogs and guard dogs are obvious examples. So I regard “companion animal” as a wider term, and use both expressions in this book.
"Korsgaard (Christine) - Are People More Important than the Other Animals?"
Source: Korsgaard (Christine) - Fellow Creatures: Part I (Human Beings and the Other Animals) - Chapter 1
- Introduction – 3
- Reasons to Treat People and Animals Differently – 5
- Tethered Values – 9
- Why Tethered Values and Superior Importance Are (Almost) Incompatible – 12
"Korsgaard (Christine) - Animal Selves and the Good"
Source: Korsgaard (Christine) - Fellow Creatures: Part I (Human Beings and the Other Animals) - Chapter 2
- The Origin of the Good – 16
- Objections – 22
- Self-Consciousness and the Self – 29
- Active and Passive Self-Constitution – 34
"Korsgaard (Christine) - What’s Different about Being Human?"
Source: Korsgaard (Christine) - Fellow Creatures: Part I (Human Beings and the Other Animals) - Chapter 3
- Introduction – 36
- Rational and Instinctive Minds – 38
- Evaluating Reasons and Evaluating the Self – 44
- Species Being – 48
- Ethics and Science – 50
"Korsgaard (Christine) - The Case against Human Superiority"
Source: Korsgaard (Christine) - Fellow Creatures: Part I (Human Beings and the Other Animals) - Chapter 4
- Introduction – 53
- Does Morality Make Humans Superior to the Other Animals? – 55
- The Implications of Cognitive Sophistication – 59
- Are Humans Better Off than the Other Animals? – 67
- Conclusion – 73
"Korsgaard (Christine) - Kant, Marginal Cases, and Moral Standing"
Source: Korsgaard (Christine) - Fellow Creatures: Part II (Immanuel Kant and the Animals) - Chapter 5
- Human Beings as Ends in Themselves – 77
- Against the Argument from Marginal Cases – 79
- Atemporal Creatures – 86
- What Is Moral Standing Anyway? – 93
"Korsgaard (Christine) - Kant against the Animals, Part 1: The Indirect Duty View"
Source: Korsgaard (Christine) - Fellow Creatures: Part II (Immanuel Kant and the Animals) - Chapter 6
- Animals as Mere Means – 97
- How Kant Thinks We Ought to Treat Animals – 99
- An Incoherent Attitude – 102
- The Problem of the Moral Filter – 105
- Desert and the Worthiness to Be Happy – 109
- Treated Like Animals – 112
"Korsgaard (Christine) - Kant against the Animals, Part 2: Reciprocity and the Grounds of Obligation"
Source: Korsgaard (Christine) - Fellow Creatures: Part II (Immanuel Kant and the Animals) - Chapter 7
- Introduction – 115
- Reciprocity Arguments – 116
- Kant’s Account of Moral Choice – 118
- Kant on Reciprocal Legislation – 123
- The Universalization Test and the Treatment of Animals – 126
"Korsgaard (Christine) - A Kantian Case for Our Obligations to the Other Animals"
Source: Korsgaard (Christine) - Fellow Creatures: Part II (Immanuel Kant and the Animals) - Chapter 8
- Introduction – 131
- Kant’s Copernican Revolution – 132
- The Concept of an End in Itself – 135
- Valuing Ourselves as Ends in Ourselves – 137
- Valuing Animals as Ends in Themselves – 141
- Morality as Our Way of Being Animals – 146
- Different Moral Relations to People and Animals – 146
- Trouble in the Kingdom of Ends – 150
"Korsgaard (Christine) - The Role of Pleasure and Pain"
Source: Korsgaard (Christine) - Fellow Creatures: Part II (Immanuel Kant and the Animals) - Chapter 9
- Rapprochement with Utilitarianism? – 156
- Aggregation and Its Implications – 157
- The Nature of Pleasure and Pain – 160
- The Place of Pleasure and Pain in the Final Good – 162
- Matters of Life and Death – 166
- Kantian Naturalism – 167
"Korsgaard (Christine) - The Animal Antinomy, Part 1: Creation Ethics"
Source: Korsgaard (Christine) - Fellow Creatures: Part III (Consequences) - Chapter 10
- Eliminating Predation – 173
- Abolitionism – 175
- The Animal Antinomy – 180
- Creation Ethics – 182
- Individuals, Groups, and Species – 188
"Korsgaard (Christine) - Species, Communities, and Habitat Loss"
Source: Korsgaard (Christine) - Fellow Creatures: Part III (Consequences) - Chapter 11
- The Value of Species – 191
- The Good of a Species and the Good of Its Members – 194
- What Is a Species? – 196
- Does a Species Have a Good? – 198
- Species as Generic Organisms – 201
- How to Care about Species – 204
- Eliminating Predation Again – 208
- Restoring Habitat – 209
- Should Humans Go Extinct? – 211
"Korsgaard (Christine) - The Animal Antinomy, Part 2: Abolition and Apartheid"
Source: Korsgaard (Christine) - Fellow Creatures: Part III (Consequences) - Chapter 12
- Reorganizing Nature – 215
- How to Treat Animals as Ends in Themselves – 219
- Eating Animals – 220
- Working Animals and Animals in the Military – 226
- The Use of Animals in Scientific Experiments – 228
- Companion Animals – 233
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2023
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)