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Title: In Search of Common Ground: New Natural Law and the Other Animals
Authors: Anbar, Sarel
Advisors: Singer, Peter
Department: Philosophy
Class Year: 2020
Abstract: The publication of Animal Liberation by Peter Singer in 1975 effectively launched the modern movement to accord full moral and legal protections to all sentient creatures in virtue of their capacity to experience pleasure and pain. Building on Jeremy Bentham’s famous challenge to reassess the criteria we use in evaluating the rightful members of the moral community, Singer challenged his fellow philosophers and the general public to critically consider the effects of their meat consumption on the livelihood and well-being of the other animals. Traditional ethicists have largely resisted the movement to accord moral consideration to all non-human animals, rejecting the capacity to experience pleasure or pain as a sufficient criterion to ground moral status. Among the most compelling non-utilitarian ethical theories is the new natural law theory originally advanced by John Finnis, Germain Grisez, and Joseph Boyle. This thesis seeks to extend the new natural law theory’s account of morality beyond rational creatures to all sentient beings, grounded in the principle that all creatures who have an interest in and conscious experience of their own well-being are owed equal moral consideration. In addition, it addresses the unique role the root capacity for reason plays in assessing the special additional obligations that moral agents owe to all rational creatures in virtue of the basic goods that are fulfilling of their rational nature. Furthermore, it outlines the criteria under which it is morally permissible to kill and consume non-rational animals in circumstances of necessity, and distinguishes such a case from one involving the killing and consumption of rational animals. Finally, it offers a critique of Korsgaard’s approach to the good in Fellow Creatures, and argues that the new natural law theory offers a more consistent account.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Philosophy, 1924-2020

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