Friday, October 30, 2009

Monday, Regan Ch. 7 & 8, 'Animal Rights" and "Objections and Replies."

For those of you who missed today, you must write a detailed summary of Regan Ch. 6. You missed important discussion today.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Friday: Ch. 6. Human Rights
Monday: Ch. 7 & 8: Animal Rights and Objections and Replies
Wednesday: Moral Philosophy and Change
What are moral rights? The basics of a rights-like view[1]:

I. The basic concepts:
If an individual has (basic) moral rights, then:
(1) Others are not morally free to harm that being by taking his or her most important goods (e.g., his or her life, bodily integrity, liberty, etc.). [contractarianisms deny this]
(2) Benefits that others might derive from harming that individual do not, cannot, justify harming that individual. [utilitarians deny this]

(1) and (2) we can see as a consequence of respect: to treat an individually respectfully requires that (1) you not harm that being by taking its most important goods and (2) you do not harm that being to try to achieve benefits for others.

Saying that the concept is instantiated, or that some beings have the property of having moral rights:
To say “humans[2] have (basic) moral rights” is to say that
(1) “humans should not be harmed by taking away their lives, violating their bodies, restricting their liberty, etc. and
(2) that benefits that others might gain from doing so would not justify those kinds of harms.”
Respecting human beings requires this treatment.

Basic ways to deny this:
(1) Denying (1): No, others are morally free to harm individuals: harming individuals in these ways is not wrong.
· Two options, among many: egoism: “No, morally, I can harm you if doing so will benefit me more than anything else I can do.” Nihilism: “Nothing is right or wrong, good or bad, so harming you in any way is not wrong.”
(2) Denying (2): No, if there are enough overall benefits to be gained by harming individuals, then it’s morally OK to harm them.
· One option, among many: utilitarianism: “Acts are morally permissible when, and only when, they produce the greatest overall utility/intrinsic goodness. If achieving that requires harming you greatly, that’s morally permissible.”

II. So, for those beings that we (1) should not profoundly harm and (2) shouldn’t do this even if there were great benefits from doing so, what is it about those beings that makes this so?

The pattern:

1. Identify some candidate rights-making property (or properties). Get clear on what the property exactly is since, sometimes, the meanings of the terms used are not clear (e.g., human, person, “moral community” etc.”


2. Think about whether this seems true, in light of possible counterexamples (i.e., is this property a sufficient condition for having rights, i.e., _____________ ):

If an individual has this property (or properties), then we (1) should not profoundly harm that individual and (2) we shouldn’t do this even if there were great benefits from doing so.

3. Think about whether this seems true, in light of possible counterexamples (i.e., is this property a necessary condition for having rights, i.e., _____________):

We (1) should not profoundly harm that individual and (2) we shouldn’t do this even if there were great benefits from doing so only if an individual has this property (or properties).

4. Think about whether the property (or properties) seems to be the ones that make harming someone wrong: there must be some [essential] connection between this one and harm.

Patterns of Critical responses:

“No, morally we can profoundly harm this individual (especially if (2) there were great benefits from doing so) because this individual lacks this property (or properties): _________________.


[1] Important details about this account are provided in CASE Ch. 8. For many hard questions about this account, answers are given there.
[2] What’s being referred to when we speak of ‘humans’ and ‘human beings’ is not often clear. Here are some possibilities: (1) anything that’s biologically human, has human DNA, (2) anything of the species homo sapiens, (3) anything biologically human that’s living, (4) anything biologically human that’s living and would pretty easily “naturally” develop into a conscious individual, (5) anything biologically human that’s living and, in some sense, could develop into a conscious individual, (6) anything biologically human that’s living and has a mind (i.e., is conscious, can feel, etc.), etc.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The cruelty-kindess view is similar to a virtue ethics theory; for more on those, see:
http://www.iep.utm.edu/virtue/
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-virtue/

For more on utilitarianism, see this entry on Consequentialism:
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/consequentialism

Monday, October 19, 2009

For Wednesday, we will briefly discuss the "cruelty kindness view" and start discussing utilitarianism.
Writing assignment: what is utilitarianism? (or what are the different kinds of utilitarianism?). What are Regan's arguments against it?
To get to the Philosophers' Index on campus go here:
http://www.auctr.edu/rwwl/Home/databasesincludinggalileob/tabid/109/Default.aspx#ReligionPhilosophy

A SEARCH OF THE PHILOSOPHERS’ INDEX (AVAILABLE ONLINE THROUGH THE LIBRARY) OF “NARVESON OR CONTRACTARIAN” AND “ANIMALS”

· Contractarianism and Interspecies Welfare Conflicts By: Cohen, Andrew. Social Philosophy and Policy, 26(1), 227-257, 31 p. Winter 2009. Abstract: I discuss a contractarian account of the moral status of nonhuman animals. Contractarian norms might constrain any comparison of welfare between humans and animals. Contractarian agreement will likely express some partiality to humans over animals. While the norms emerging from the contract might be silent or inconsistent in some tragic or catastrophic cases, in most ordinary conflicts of welfare, contractors will agree to norms that produce some determinate resolution. What the agreement says can evolve if the contractors or the circumstances change. I close with some remarks on contractarian indeterminacy. (AN PHL2133257)

Database: Philosopher's Index

· 3.

Beastly Contractarianism? A Contractarian Analysis of the Possibility of Animal Rights By: Tucker, Chris, MacDonald, Chris. Essays in Philosophy, 5(2), 1-15, 15 p. June 2004. Abstract: It is largely thought that contractarian affirms the meager moral standing commonly attributed to most animals. In the face of this consensus, animal advocates who feel the need to philosophically ground the moral status of animals have turned to other potential sources. This is not a hard choice for animal advocates to make: utilitarianism is a respectable moral theory that affords animals moral consideration with relative ease. Nevertheless, we argue that this separation is a mistake. Contractarians can offer an account of the moral status of animals that is at least as compelling as that offered by utilitarianism. Grounding the moral worth of animals in contract theory also produces an importantly different account, one that can ground animal rights, as opposed to mere considerability, which some animal advocates will find more appealing than the utilitarian alternative. (edited) (AN PHL1774295)

Database: Philosopher's Index

· 5.

Contractarianism and Animal Rights By: Rowlands, Mark. Journal of Applied Philosophy, 14(3), 235-247, 13 p. 1997. Abstract: It is widely accepted, by both friends and foes of animal rights, that contractarianism is the moral theory least likely to justify the assigning of direct moral status to nonhuman animals. These are not, it is generally supposed, rational agents, and contractarian approaches can grant direct moral status only to such agents. I shall argue that this widely accepted view is false. At least some forms of contractarianism, when properly understood, do, in fact, entail that nonhuman animals possess direct moral status, independently of their utility for rational agents, and independently of whatever interests rational agents may have in them. The version of contractarianism I shall focus upon is that defended by John Rawls. (AN PHL1654884)

Database: Philosopher's Index

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· 6.

Nasty, Brutish, and Short: The Illiberal Intuition that Animals don't Count By: Taylor, Angus. Journal of Value Inquiry, 30(1-2), 265-277, 13 p. June 1996. Abstract: A consistently liberal ethic views as ends-in-themselves all who are subjectively concerned for their own good, and who have the ability in some way to choose what is best for themselves. With this in mind, I argue 1) that contrary to the contractarianism of Jan Narveson, a consistently liberal ethic must recognize many nonhuman animals as members of the moral community, and 2) that all sentient beings have inherent value and thus have moral rights that may be overridden only when satisfaction of our vital needs requires such action. (AN PHL1641992)

Database: Philosopher's Index

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· 7.

Expanding the Social Contract By: Cavalieri, Paola, Kymlicka, Will. Etica and Animali, 8, 5-33, 29 p. 1996. Abstract: Is the present exclusion of nonhuman animals from the polis warranted? We argue that it is not. Against the background of contractarian doctrine in general, and Rawls's theory in particular, we challenge the presumption that only humans are entitled to equal justice. This presumption rests upon several mistakes, including a muddled use of the notion of "person", arbitrary species bias, and insufficient factual information. We also argue that Rawls's discussion of nonhuman animals fails to live up to his own impartialist commitments. We conclude that justice as impartiality requires expanding the traditional boundaries of the political community, and supports the immediate inclusion of the other great apes. (AN PHL1638478)

Database: Philosopher's Index

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· 8.

Commentary on 'Contractarianism Gone Wild: Carruthers and the Moral Status of Animals' By: Robinson, William S. Between the Species: A Journal of Ethics, 10(1-2), 49-52, 4 p. Winter-Spring 1994. Abstract: Peter Carruthers has claimed that his version of contractarianism can support certain distinctions that his theory of ethics regarding animals requires. Boonin-Vail's paper disputes this, holding that the required distinctions cannot be maintained in a principled way within Carruthers's contractarian framework. I defend Carruthers's ability to make the needed distinctions. One key point turns on being careful to exclude certain obvious "moral" judgments from behind the veil of ignorance, where they cannot legitimately enter because they depend on "results" of contracting. Another requires careful separation of "intrinsic" (noninstrumental) possession of moral rights from possession of "full" moral rights. (AN PHL1255729)

Database: Philosopher's Index

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· 9.

Contracts, Animals, and Ecosystems By: Wenz, Peter S. Social Theory and Practice: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal of Social Philosophy, 19(3), 315-344, 30 p. FALL 1993. Abstract: The review essay discusses issues raised in "The Animals Issue" by Peter Carruthers and "The Animal Rights/ Environmental Ethics Debate" edited by Eugene C Hargrove. Carruthers is shown to present poor arguments for contractarian ethics, and for rejection on contractarian ground of animals' direct moral considerability. The Hargrove collection, by contrast, includes interesting and helpful essays that argue against animal rights on holistic environmentalist grounds. The review essay accepts holistic environmentalism but maintains that protection of many individual animals, and vegetarianism, partly out of concern for animal welfare, are morally required of industrial people. (AN PHL1245810)

Database: Philosopher's Index

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· 10.

Moral Matters By: Narveson, Jan. Peterborough: Broadview Pr. 1993. Abstract: "Moral Matters" is a series of essays on the familiar general moral issues, preceded by an unconventional introduction to moral philosophy in a broadly Hobbesian contractarian framework, which criticizes the usual "consequential/deontological" classification. Topics treated: suicide, euthanasia, criminal punishment, war, animal rights, starvation, population control, abortion, sexual ethics (sex, love, marriage, family), pornography, non-discrimination, affirmative action, and obeying the law. A radically liberal ("libertarian") view is argued for each. It is intended to be used with any anthology in which proponents of other viewpoints speak for themselves. (AN PHL1240476)

· Commentary: On the Utility of Contracts By: Sapontzis, Steve F. Between the Species: A Journal of Ethics, 8(4), 229-232, 4 p. FALL 1992. Abstract: This paper discusses whether participants in Rawls' original position could be incarnated as animals. In response to an argument that they could not be, it is argued that Rawls' criticisms of utilitarianism would not inevitably lead to defining individuality in terms of life-plans--something animals generally lack--and calling for the respecting of such individuality. Finally, it is argued that contractarian analyses of justice must inevitably fail to provide a complete theory of justice. (AN PHL1238744)

Database: Philosopher's Index

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· 12.

ON A CASE FOR ANIMAL RIGHTS. By: NARVESON, JAN. Monist: An International Quarterly Journal of General Philosophical Inquiry, 70, 31-49, 19 p. January 1987. Abstract: THIS ESSAY DISCUSSES TOM REGAN'S "THE CASE FOR ANIMAL RIGHTS". ITS CENTRAL ARGUMENT IS IDENTIFIED AND ANALYZED AND FOUND TO BE BOTH INVALID AND TO PROCEED FROM QUESTIONABLE PREMISES. FURTHER, REGAN'S ARGUMENT DEPENDS STRONGLY ON APPEALS TO INTUITION, ESPECIALLY INTUITIONS ABOUT THE RIGHTS OF "MARGINAL HUMANS." BUT THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO ACCOUNT FOR THEM, AND BESIDES, REGAN'S VIEW THAT ANIMALS HAVE STRONG RIGHTS, REQUIRING US TO BE VEGETARIANS AND TO REFRAIN FROM RESEARCH ON THEM, IS ALSO UNINTUITIVE. A CONTRACTARIAN ACCOUNT IS OFFERED, CONTRA REGAN, WHICH GIVES ANIMALS NO "BASIC" RIGHTS. (AN PHL1149752)

Database: Philosopher's Index

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· 14.

ANIMAL RIGHTS REVISITED By: NARVESON, JAN. ETHICS AND ANIMALS. CLIFTON: HUMANA PR. 1983. (AN PHL1124243)

Database: Philosopher's Index

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· 15.

RATIONAL EGOISM AND ANIMAL RIGHTS. By: JAMIESON, DALE. Environmental Ethics: An Interdisciplinary Journal Dedicated to the Philosophical Aspects of Environmental Problems, 3, 167-172, 6 p. Summer 1981. Abstract: JAN NARVESON HAS SUGGESTED THAT "RATIONAL EGOISM" MIGHT PROVIDE A DEFENSIBLE MORAL PERSPECTIVE THAT WOULD PUT ANIMALS OUT OF THE REACH OF MORALITY WITHOUT DENYING THAT THEY ARE CAPABLE OF SUFFERING. I ARGUE THAT RATIONAL EGOISM PROVIDES A PRINCIPLED INDIFFERENCE TO THE FATE OF ANIMALS AT HIGH COST: THE POSSIBILITY OF PRINCIPLED INDIFFERENCE TO THE FATE OF 'MARGINAL HUMANS'. (AN PHL1110134)

Database: Philosopher's Index

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· 16.

JUSTICE AND THE TREATMENT OF ANIMALS: A CRITIQUE OF RAWLS. By: PRITCHARD, MICHAEL S, ROBISON, WADE L. Environmental Ethics: An Interdisciplinary Journal Dedicated to the Philosophical Aspects of Environmental Problems, 3, 55-61, 7 p. Spring 1981. Abstract: ALTHOUGH THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE INITIAL SITUATION OF JUSTICE IN JOHN RAWLS' "THEORY OF JUSTICE" CHOOSE PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE ONLY, THEIR CHOICES HAVE IMPLICATIONS FOR OTHER MORAL CONCERNS. THE ONLY CHECK ON THE SELF-INTEREST OF THE PARTICIPANTS IS THAT THERE BE UNANIMOUS ACCEPTANCE OF THE PRINCIPLES. BUT, SINCE ANIMALS ARE NOT PARTICIPANTS, IT IS POSSIBLE THAT PRINCIPLES WILL BE ADOPTED WHICH CONFLICT WITH WHAT RAWLS CALLS "DUTIES OF COMPASSION AND HUMANITY" TOWARD ANIMALS. THIS IS A CONSEQUENCE OF THE INITIAL SITUATION'S ASSUMPTION THAT PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE CAN BE DETERMINED INDEPENDENTLY OF OTHER MORAL CONSIDERATIONS. WE QUESTION THIS ASSUMPTION, AND SHOW THAT SATISFACTORY MODIFICATIONS OF RAWLS' INITIAL SITUATION UNDERMINE ITS CONTRACTARIAN BASIS AND REQUIRE THE REJECTION OF EXCLUSIVELY SELF-INTERESTED PARTICIPANTS. (AN PHL1108753)

Database: Philosopher's Index

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· 17.

ANIMAL RIGHTS (IN POLISH). By: NARVESON, JAN. Etyka, 18, 147-168, 22 p. 1980. Abstract: (NOTE: THE ARTICLE IS A POLISH TRANSLATION OF MY "ANIMAL RIGHTS REVISITED", PUBLISHED IN "ANIMAL REGULATION STUDIES" 2, PP. 223-236 (1980)). WHAT THE AUTHOR REGARDS AS THE THREE MAJOR ETHICAL/POLITICAL PHILOSOPHIES OF CURRENT INTEREST ARE EXPLORED: LIBERTARIANISM, UTILITARIANISM, AND CONTRACTARIANISM. NONE IS FOUND TO GIVE MUCH SUPPORT FOR STRONG ANIMAL RIGHTS. THE MOST INTERESTING, IT IS SUGGESTED, IS CONTRACTARIANISM, WHICH GIVES NO SUPPORT FOR THEM AT ALL ON THE BASIC LEVEL. ANIMALS NEITHER POSE THE KIND OF THREAT THAT WOULD MAKE A CONTRACT RATIONAL, NOR ARE THEY CAPABLE OF MAKING AND KEEPING AGREEMENTS WERE THAT DESIRABLE. (AN PHL1111304)

Database: Philosopher's Index

· 19.

ANIMAL RIGHTS. By: NARVESON, JAN. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 7, 161-178, 18 p. March 1977. Abstract: THE VIEWS OF PETER SINGER, AND VARIOUS AUTHORS IN THE SINGER/REGAN ANTHOLOGY "ANIMAL RIGHTS AND HUMAN OBLIGATIONS", ARE EXPLORED. THEIR CASE AGAINST "SPECIESISM," THAT ONLY MEMBERS OF THE HUMAN SPECIES ARE ELIGIBLE FOR MORAL CONSIDERATIONS, IS ACCEPTED, BUT THE FURTHER INFERENCE THAT ANIMALS HAVE STRONG RIGHTS, ESPECIALLY NOT TO BE KILLED FOR FOOD, IS QUESTIONED. UTILITARIANISM WOULD, FOR EXAMPLE, SEEM TO LEAVE ROOM FOR THE EATING OF ANIMALS, THOUGH RATHER PRECARIOUSLY. HOWEVER, THE GENERAL VIEW OF MORALITY WHICH IS ARGUED TO MAKE BEST SENSE OF OUR INCLINATION TO THINK THAT EATING ANIMALS IS PERMISSIBLE IS A CONTRACTARIAN/EGOIST ONE. THIS MAKES IT OBVIOUS THAT WE HAVE NO OBLIGATIONS TO ANIMALS, SINCE WE NEED INCUR NONE (AND CAN'T ANYWAY, OWING TO LACK OF COMMUNICATION); AT THE SAME TIME IT MAKES SENSE OF OUR DUTIES TO WEAKER HUMANS. BUT THE WHOLE ISSUE IS AGREED TO BE A DIFFICULT ONE. (AN PHL1055345)

· 20.

NARVESON ON EGOISM AND THE RIGHTS OF ANIMALS. By: REGAN, TOM. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 7, 179-186, 8 p. March 1977. Abstract: I CHALLENGE NARVESON'S ATTEMPTS (1) TO INCLUDE INFANT AND SEVERELY MENTALLY-ENFEEBLED HUMANS WITHIN THE CLASS OF BEINGS PROTECTED BY MORAL RULES DESPITE THE FACT THAT THEY HAVE NO RIGHTS AND (2) TO EXCLUDE ALL NON-HUMAN ANIMALS BOTH FROM THE CLASS OF BEINGS PROTECTED BY MORAL RULES AND FROM THE CLASS OF BEINGS HAVING RIGHTS. (AN PHL1054933)


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Some quick thoughts and suggestions about your papers and writing generally:

1. There is no need for a long-winded introduction. Get to the point about what your paper will be about and what you will argue ASAP.
2. There is also no need for any "big words." Write simply and do not use any words you would not use in ordinary life, unless those words are absolutely necessary.
3. Related to 1 and 2, omit all needless words: always write in the most concise way possible. This will result in greater clarity.
4. Each paragraph should have only one topic.
5. Assume that your reader has not read the reading or is part of our class: do not write in a way that suggests you assume the reader is familiar with the reading or is part of our class.

Some more tips:

Some writing tips from Professor Nobis:

  • The most common comments I write on papers are these: (1) What do you mean? and (2) Why think that? The first is in response to unclear claims: write clearly. The second is in response to claims that need defense: give reasons.
  • Write in short sentences: if any longer sentence can be broken into two or more sentences, do it because it's easier to read then.
  • Each paragraph should deal with one, and only one, topic. You should be able to say, "This paragraph is about this: _____."
  • Omit all needless words and needless discussion. Your reader's time is valuable so don't waste it.
  • Make sure everything is clear. Use simple words: no need for anything nebulous.
  • Your papers should have a short introduction, culminating in a thesis, a main point, the point that your paper is supposed to defend. The most direct way of presenting this sort of thesis is this: "I will argue that _(short sentence here: 'all abortions are wrong', 'Dr. Doopy's argument against euthenasia is unsound,' etc.___."
  • Your introductory paragraph, or a paragraph immediately after it, should give the reader an overview of what you will be doing in the paper. It should briefly explain the overall structure (e.g., "First I will ___ and then I will ____. Finally I will ______.")
  • Omit anything totally obvious and uninformative (e.g., "This issue has been debated for hundreds of years."). Everyone already knows this, so don't waste time telling us what we already know.
  • Don't write, "Well, _____." No "well's".
  • Don't say, "'Mr. Bubbles feels that this is wrong." Say, he believes, or thinks, or (if he does) argues. His views are probably not his "feelings" or his emotional reactions.
  • Also, no ' . . . ' unless you are shortening a quote. No "trailing off" in hopes that the reader will think what you are hoping they will think.
  • Don't ask rhetorical questions. Make statements, don't ask questions. Your reader might answer your questions for you in ways you'd like. But if you do ask questions, make sure there is a question mark.
  • It's OK to use "I". People use "I" to communicate clearly, so use it.
  • "Arguments" are not people's conclusions. They are the conclusions and the reasons they give in favor of those conclusions.
  • If I ask you to raise objections to a theory, argument, claim, or whatever, it's fine to raise objections that are discussed in our readings. What's not good, however, is to raise an objection that is discussed in the readings but the author responds to the objection and shows that it's not a good objection. If you raise this same objection, but do not discuss the author's response (and respond to that response), this suggests that you didn't do the reading very closely.
  • If an author states a conclusion (or a main point) and gives reasons for it, then that author has given an argument. If an author has given an argument, do not say that the author has not given an argument: you might not have found the argument (yet), but the argument is still there! Keep looking!
  • Keep focused and don't argue for more than you can give reasons for.
  • You have succeeded in writing a paper if you can give that paper to a smart and critical someone who is not familiar with your topic and this person will understand the views and arguments you are discussing, as well as whatever criticisms you raise. You can do an empirical test to determine whether you are writing well, and it's basically just to see if others understand your writing! If not, you need to keep working at it.
  • Finally, good writing, like many things, takes a lot of time. If you don't take the time to work at it, you probably won't do very well and you probably won't improve. I recommend writing something about double the length needed and then editing down and re-organizing and re-writing to remove the needless words, irrelevant distractions, and -- most importantly -- improve your statement of whatever argument you are trying to develop.
  • Strunk and White's The Elements of Style is excellent, the section III. ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES OF COMPOSITION is especially good:
    http://www.bartleby.com/141/strunk5.html