An Objection To Peter Carruthers Against The Moral Standing Of Animals
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An Objection to Peter Carruthers’ „Against the Moral Standing of Animals“
Written by Raphaela Thenen, 12th and 13th of November 2016
In his essay Against the Moral Standing of Animals, Peter Carruthers argues that animals have no moral standing and therefore no rights, unlike all humans.
He begins his argument by stating the two base assumptions it rests on.
Firstly, he assumes the “correct” moral framework to be some form of contractualism, which he considers in two versions as developed by John Rawls and T. M. Scanlon, respectively.
In both versions, the moral truths and rules humans should live by are what they would be constructed as were all rational agents to congregate under certain conditions for the purpose of this construction. Those conditions draw the distinction between Rawls’ and Scanlon’s versions.
Rational agents, as Carruthers defines them, are…show more content… I see several potential points of contention in Carruthers’ argument.
For one, it is possible to contest Carruthers’ assessment that animal rights beyond protecting them as property are unnecessary for social stability. This would require either empirical data or speculation that I cannot, at this point, sufficiently support.
For another, one could argue against his assumption that animals do not qualify as rational agents, which again requires significant empirical data. Alternatively, some sort of “when in doubt, for the accused” principle could be invoked, similar to Peter Singer’s stance on the personhood of animals. This would, in the case of Carruthers’ stringent conditions for rational agency, mean a degree of giving animals the benefit of the doubt that is very hard to defend.
Lastly, one may raise the objection that contractualism as Carruthers supposes it does not lead to a process of moral rule-making that is just and therefore produces an unjust moral