A Direct Kantian Duty to Animals

Southern Journal of Philosophy 52 (3):338-358 (2014)
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Kant's view that we have only indirect duties to animals fails to capture the intuitive notion that wronging animals transgresses duties we owe to those animals. Here I argue that a suitably modified Kantianism can allow for direct duties to animals and, in particular, an imperfect duty to promote animal welfare without unduly compromising its core theoretical commitments, especially its commitments concerning the source and nature of our duties toward rational beings. The basis for such duties is that animal welfare, on my revised Kantian view, is neither a conditioned nor unconditioned good, but a final and nonderivative good that ought to be treated as an end-in-itself. However, this duty to promote animal welfare operates according to a broadly consequentialist logic that both accords well with our considered judgments about our duties to animals and explains differences between these duties and duties owed to rational agents

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Michael Cholbi
University of Edinburgh


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