Contractarianism, Other-Regarding Attitudes, and the Moral Standing of Nonhuman Animals
Cohen, Andrew I.
Journal of Applied Philosophy 2007 May; 24(2): 188-201
Contractarianism roots moral standing in an agreement among rational agents in the circumstances of justice. Critics have argued that the theory must exclude nonhuman animals from the protection of justice. I argue that contractarianism can consistently accommodate the notion that nonhuman animals are owed direct moral consideration. They can acquire their moral status indirectly, but their claims to justice can be as stringent as those among able-bodied rational adult humans. Any remaining criticisms of contractarianism likely rest on a disputable moral realism; contractarianism can underwrite the direct moral considerability of nonhuman animals by appealing to a projectivist quasi-realism.
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