The Animal Question: Why Nonhuman Animals Deserve Human Rights / Edition 1

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How much do animals matter—morally? Can we keep considering them as second class beings, to be used merely for our benefit? Or, should we offer them some form of moral egalitarianism? Inserting itself into the passionate debate over animal rights, this fascinating, provocative work by renowned scholar Paola Cavalieri advances a radical proposal: that we extend basic human rights to the nonhuman animals we currently treat as "things."

Cavalieri first goes back in time, tracing the roots of the debate from the 1970s, then explores not only the ethical but also the scientific viewpoints, examining the debate's precedents in mainstream Western philosophy. She considers the main proposals of reform that recently have been advanced within the framework of today's prevailing ethical perspectives. Are these proposals satisfying? Cavalieri says no, claiming that it is necessary to go beyond the traditional opposition between utilitarianism and Kantianism and focus on the question of fundamental moral protection. In the case of human beings, such protection is granted within the widely shared moral doctrine of universal human rights' theory. Cavalieri argues that if we examine closely this theory, we will discover that its very logic extends to nonhuman animals as beings who are owed basic moral and legal rights and that, as a result, human rights are not human after all.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A brilliant, concise statement of the argument for attributing basic rights to animals, and a significant new contribution to the current debate. Ms. Cavalieri shows that contemporary discussions in ethics and bioethics risk arbitrariness or incoherence because they have failed to tackle the issue of the status of animals. From now on, opponents of animal rights must try to answer Ms. Cavalieri's argument, and anyone writing in bioethics will have to meet her challenge."—Peter Singer, Princeton University

"This short, elegent, and well-focused book does exactly what it says on the jacket, both front and back, and puts the case for attributing basic human rights to animals. Unlike many who take this side, Cavalieri's argument, set firmly and openly within the analytic tradition, is austere and rigorous throughout, and has none of the hyperbole, the tugging at heart-strings, the harsh detailing that characterizes much that is written in defense of animals."—Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195173659
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 1/15/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Paola Cavalieri is editor of the international philosophy journal Etica & Animali, and has published widely in the area of applied ethics. She co-edited, with Peter Singer, the award-winning 1993 book The Great Ape Project: Equality Beyond Humanity.

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Table of Contents

1 The Cultural Premises 3
A Problem for Political Philosophy: How to Establish Human Equality 4
Bioethical Dilemmas: Who Is Human? 7
After Behaviorism, or How Animal Minds Started to Exist Again 12
2 The Problem of Moral Status 23
Moral Agents and Moral Patients 28
In Search of the Criteria 31
Inclusion in the Moral Community 32
3 The Traditional Accounts 41
Absolute Dismissal, or Descartes and God's Clocks 41
The Superiority of Rational Nature: How Kant Created Humanism 47
Ethics Makes a Turn: Utilitarianism 59
After the Inclusion 67
4 Speciesism 69
Traditional Speciesism: Attributing Weight to Biological Characteristics 71
The Correspondents Approach: Species as a Mark of the Morally Relevant Characteristics 73
An Attempt to Grant Paradigmatic Status to Nonparadigmatic Humans 76
Retreat: Comparable Status, Different Treatment 79
5 Welfare and the Value of Life 87
Welfare 88
When Killing Is Wrong 101
The Value of Life: Qualitative Theories 105
The Value of Life: Quantitative Theories 109
Internal Perspectives on Prudential Value 113
An Open Problem 116
The Notion of Person as an Alternative Solution? 117
6 A Minimal Normative Proposal 125
Human Rights: Sphere of Reference 125
Human Rights: Essential Characteristics 128
Human Rights: Justification 131
For an Expanded Theory of Human Rights 137
Notes 145
Bibliography 165
Index 175
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