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Figdor, Carrie. The Psychological Speciesism of Humanism
2020, Philosophical Studies 178: 1545–1569
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Carrie Figdor
Abstract: Humanists argue for assigning the highest moral status to all humans over any non-humans directly or indirectly on the basis of uniquely superior human cognitive abilities. They may also claim that humanism is the strongest position from which to combat racism, sexism, and other forms of within-species discrimination. I argue that changing conceptual foundations in comparative research and discoveries of advanced cognition in many non-human species reveal humanism’s psychological speciesism and its similarity with common justifications of within-species discrimination.

Comment: This paper argues against the idea that human cognitive capacities justify higher moral status for humans over nonhuman animals. It also argues that this justification for human moral superiority is structurally the same as a common justification for the superiority (moral and otherwise) of some human groups over others (such as in sexism or racism).

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Humpherys, Rebekah. Contractarianism: On the Incoherence of the Exclusion of Non-Human Beings
2008, Percipi 2, 28-38
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Rebekah Humphreys

Abstract: Although the practices of animal experimentation and intensive rearing involve a considerable amount of animal suffering they continue to be supported. Why is the suffering of animals in these practices so often accepted? This paper will explore some of the reasons given in support of the use of animals for such practices. In particular I will focus on contractarianism as one of the many positions that argues that morally relevant differences between species justify animal experimentation and factory farming. These differences include rationality and moral agency. On this position non-humans are excluded from direct moral concern on the basis that they lack such qualities. I will argue that in order for contractarianism to be coherent it necessarily has to include non-humans in the contract. This has implications for the application of contractarianism to the ethics of factory farming and animal experimentation.

Comment: Critically discusses Rawls' theory of justice in relation to issues in animal ethics.

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Steinbock, Bonnie. Speciesism and the Idea of Equality
1978, Philosophy 53 (204): 247-256.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord
Abstract: Most of us believe that we are entitled to treat members of other species in ways which would be considered wrong if inflicted on members of our own species. We kill them for food, keep them confined, use them in painful experiments. The moral philosopher has to ask what relevant difference justifies this difference in treatment. A look at this question will lead us to re-examine the distinctions which we have assumed make a moral difference.

Comment: This journal article is a response to Peter Singer's Animal Liberation, though you need not have read Animal Liberation in order to understand this article, as Steinbock provides a clear overview of Singer's main claims. The text would be useful for rebutting Singer's arguments in a course on animal ethics or environmental ethics. It would also be of use in a course on moral theory that involved questions of moral consideration or moral equality.

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