'Do non-human animals have some form of moral sense which informs the way that they live and act towards members of their own and other species?'

Camp, John Sydney (2018) 'Do non-human animals have some form of moral sense which informs the way that they live and act towards members of their own and other species?'. Masters thesis, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

[img]
Preview
Text
Camp, John Sydney (2018) 'Do non-human animals have some form of moral sense which informs the way that (etc...)'.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (1MB) | Preview

Abstract

Various empirical and anecdotal accounts suggest that certain non-human animals behave in ways that would be considered to be moral, even exemplary, if they were human beings. While some philosophers such as Mark Rowlands consider that some animals may be moral subjects (but not full moral agents), others (after Descartes) have argued that only humans possess the requisite cognitive capacities. Three common objections discussed in the essay are that animals (a) cannot reason; (b) do not have language; and (c) are not persons. However, in the light of philosophers/writers such as DeWaal, Bekoff, DeGrazia and Sapontzis, it is arguable that these objections are questionable in themselves, and fail to dismiss the case for animals as moral beings. While species membership may be relevant to the question, it is not decisive. Animals do not need to be ‘persons’ or ‘moral agents’ to act for good, within their own communities and their individual limitations. Such hard categories are arbitrary and prejudicial. In making the case for animals as moral beings, evolutionary biology and neurology give a persuasive account of the role that empathy and reciprocal altruism play in maintaining animal communities. Darwin thought of morality as basic social instincts refined by intelligence. There is good evidence (in animal play, for example) that their behaviour is governed by shared social obligations and expectations. This contention is also supported by the similarities between the brains and nervous systems of humans and other animals, particularly the areas relating to social behaviour. We differ from them in degree, not in kind. While humans can engage with moral situations in a more complex, conceptual way, this isn’t necessary to be moral. Caring about, and acting for, the good of others is what matters morally – not the ability to follow abstract principles and rules.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords: philosophy, animal ethics, cognitive ethology, altruism, morality, language, personhood, evolution, sociobiology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Masters Dissertations
Depositing User: John Sydney Camp
Date Deposited: 16 Mar 2020 15:40
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2020 15:40
URI: http://repository.uwtsd.ac.uk/id/eprint/1256

Actions (login required)

Edit Item Edit Item