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The Moral Agency of Animals: Responsible in Practice

The Moral Agency of Animals: Responsible in Practice

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Title: The Moral Agency of Animals: Responsible in Practice
Author: Ring, Rebecca Lynn
Abstract: Mark Rowlands argues some non-human animals can be moral subjects that can act for moral reasons, but cannot be moral agents because they lack sufficient understanding for responsibility. I argue Rowlands’ mere moral subjects are responding to, not acting for, moral reasons. Action for moral reasons is necessarily normative and the actor must be able to track the moral reason. I argue Rowlands’ conflation of moral agency and moral autonomy results in falsely denying responsibility to animals. Moral autonomy is an ideal to which some humans can aim. Responsibility is not contingent on this ability, but on the cognitive and volitional capacities of the individual and her normative social practices. Some animals can be moral agents in virtue of their normative social practices that involve harm to others and sharing resources. Moral agency and responsibility can be ascribed to some animals in terms of their intentional agency within such practices.
Subject: Philosophy
Cognitive psychology
Keywords: Animals
Animal mind
Non-human animals
Moral agency
Moral autonomy
Intentional agency
Propositional attitudes
Agency
Reasons
Moral philosophy
Philosophy of mind
Animal cognition
Metacognition
Folk psychology
Kristin Andrews
Peter Carruthers
Mark Rowlands
Robert Myers
Sarah Buss
Christine Korsgaard
Animal morality
Frans de Waal
Normativity
Normative force
Moral responsibility
Moral practice
Moral reasons
External reasons
Normative grip
Action
Reasons for action
Ethics
Meta-ethics
Moral agency of animals
Responsibility
Type: Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Rights: Author owns copyright, except where explicitly noted. Please contact the author directly with licensing requests.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/29967
Supervisor: Andrews, Kristin A.
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Program: Philosophy
Exam date: 2014-12-10
Publish on: 2015-08-28

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