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Our Fellow Creatures

Jeff McMahan
The Journal of Ethics
Vol. 9, No. 3/4, Devoted to James Rachels (2005), pp. 353-380
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25115832
Page Count: 28
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Our Fellow Creatures
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Abstract

This paper defends "moral individualism" against various arguments that have been intended to show that membership in the human species or participation in our distinctively human form of life is a sufficient basis for a moral status higher than that of any animal. Among the arguments criticized are the "nature-of-the-kind argument," which claims that it is the nature of all human beings to have certain higher psychological capacities, even if, contingently, some human beings lack them, and various versions of the idea that there is a special form of life that all human beings share but of which no animal can be a full participant. The paper concludes that none of these arguments succeeds in demonstrating that there are moral reasons to permit animals to be treated less well than members of our own species whose psychological capacities and potential are no higher than those of the animals.

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