Animal Rights and Moral Philosophy

Animal Rights and Moral Philosophy

Julian H. Franklin
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    Animal Rights and Moral Philosophy
    Book Description:

    Animals obviously cannot have a right of free speech or a right to vote because they lack the relevant capacities. But their right to life and to be free of exploitation is no less fundamental than the corresponding right of humans, writes Julian H. Franklin. This theoretically rigorous book will reassure the committed, help the uncertain to decide, and arm the polemicist.

    Franklin examines all the major arguments for animal rights proposed to date and extends the philosophy in new directions. Animal Rights and Moral Philosophy begins by considering the utilitarian argument of equal respect for animals advocated by Peter Singer and, even more favorably, the rights approach that has been advanced by Tom Regan. Despite their merits, both are found wanting as theoretical foundations for animal rights. Franklin also examines the ecofeminist argument for an ethics of care and several rationalist arguments before concluding that Kant's categorical imperative can be expanded to form a basis for an ethical system that includes all sentient beings. Franklin also discusses compassion as applied to animals, encompassing Albert Schweitzer's ethics of reverence for life. He concludes his analysis by considering conflicts of rights between animals and humans.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50871-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xxii)
  5. 1 Peter Singer and Utilitarianism
    (pp. 1-12)

    The idea that humans have at least some obligations to animals is very old. To varying degrees, it is found in totemist taboos and ceremonies, in all developed religions of the West as well as of the East, and among notable philosophers of classical antiquity, including Pythagoras, Theophrastus, Plutarch, and Porphyry. Most of these doctrines are incomplete in that they do not deal with all the issues that would now be taken up in considering animal rights.

    Some, like the Hebrew Bible’s, concentrate solely on cruelty to animals, while permitting the consumption of animal flesh and requiring animal sacrifice; others,...

  6. 2 Regan on Animal Rights
    (pp. 13-30)

    If utilitarianism is to be set aside as a doctrine of respect for animals, the most likely alternative is a theory of animal rights. Among modern moral philosophers the first to advance such a theory systematically was Tom Regan. His rights position is powerfully set out in The Case for Animal Rights, which appeared in 1983.

    Regan’s starting point is a critique of Descartes and certain neo-Cartesians¹ of the present time in order to remove any lingering doubts that animals are conscious and have feelings and that they may also possess a significant degree of subjectivity.² Regan is especially concerned...

  7. 3 Animal Rights and Kant
    (pp. 31-52)

    Kant most emphatically did not believe that respect for animals is a necessary consequence of the categorical imperative. Animals are not autonomous or self-conscious in Kant’s sense, and so cannot be considered moral agents. For Kant, moral obligations and moral rights apply to agents alone.As moral patients, animals are accorded no respect. They are simply lumped together with mere things as far as the theory of moral standing is concerned.

    Nevertheless, the meaning of the categorical imperative and thus of the moral law, as presented in the Groundwork, has been misinterpreted not only by the commentators but by Kant himself....

  8. 4 Animal Rights and Post-Kantian Rationalism
    (pp. 53-76)

    I have argued that Kant’s strictly rationalist idea of universalization can be shown to require respect for animals, notwithstanding his own intention to exclude them. Kant’s overall position is sometimes considered unacceptable because of his difficult theory of mind. But a number of philosophers, deeply attracted by the power of Kant’s moral thought, have attempted to get roughly similar results from the logic of agreement among individuals seeking to reform the moral basis of their community. The problems in Kant are thereby bypassed. But new and perhaps even more insoluble problems arise from the denial, apparently inevitable in these theorists,...

  9. 5 Animal Rights and Compassion
    (pp. 77-88)

    Kant famously holds that “It is impossible to conceive anything at all in the world, or even out of it, which can be taken as good without qualification except a good will.”¹ A few paragraphs later the good will is identified with pure practical reason:

    [Reason’s] true function is to produce a will which is good, not as a means to some further end, but in itself … Such a will need not on this account be the sole and complete good, but it must be the highest good and the condition of all the rest, even of all our...

  10. 6 Conflict of Rights and Environmentalism
    (pp. 89-114)

    Conflict between animals and humans over the use of nature is likely to continue endlessly. Where this struggle is not self-limited by humans, the animals invariably lose—with tragic results both for species and for their individual members. There are certain tragedies, of course, that presumably cannot be avoided. A species may become extinct for reasons beyond human control. Individual animals may be killed or starve to death. Hunting by tribal peoples is likely to continue. But the displacement of animals for agriculture and other human enterprises poses an ethical problem. Both humans and animals have a right to nature,...

  11. Appendix 1 Animal Consciousness
    (pp. 115-124)
  12. Appendix 2 Biomedical Testing and Use of Animals
    (pp. 125-128)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 129-138)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 139-144)
  15. Index
    (pp. 145-154)