Get Animals and the Moral Community: Mental Life, Moral Status, PDF

By Gary Steiner

ISBN-10: 023114234X

ISBN-13: 9780231142342

Gary Steiner argues that ethologists and philosophers within the analytic and continental traditions have mostly didn't develop an enough rationalization of animal habit. severely attractive the positions of Marc Hauser, Daniel Dennett, Donald Davidson, John Searle, Martin Heidegger, and Hans-Georg Gadamer, between others, Steiner indicates how the Western philosophical culture has pressured animals into human experiential different types in an effort to make feel in their cognitive talents and ethical prestige and the way desperately we want a brand new method of animal rights.

Steiner rejects the conventional assumption loss of formal rationality confers an inferior ethical prestige on animals vis-à-vis humans. as a substitute, he deals an associationist view of animal cognition during which animals snatch and adapt to their environments with no using techniques or intentionality. Steiner demanding situations the traditional assumption of liberal individualism based on which people haven't any duties of justice towards animals. as a substitute, he advocates a "cosmic holism" that attributes an ethical prestige to animals similar to that of individuals. Arguing for a dating of justice among people and nature, Steiner emphasizes our kinship with animals and the elemental ethical responsibilities entailed by means of this kinship.

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Extra info for Animals and the Moral Community: Mental Life, Moral Status, and Kinship

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When the other dogs run to the back door, my friend opens the door and all the dogs except Chelsea run outside to check for an intruder, at which point Chelsea bolts back to the bedroom and takes up the favored spot on the bed. It is not absolutely essential to employ the vocabulary of intention in explaining such behavior; in some cases it is possible to offer an explanation in terms of conditioning or instinct. As the behavior becomes more sophisticated or innovative, however, non-intentional explanations become increasingly implausible.

Do animals experience and evaluate the world in terms of beliefs, desires, and intentions? Given that human beings possess such cognitive capacities, should we conclude, by analogy, that animals possess them too? Cognitive ethologists acknowledge that analogy is the only methodological tool available when it comes to drawing inferences about the mental lives of animals. ” It thus seems unavoidable that we must at least begin by attributing to Chelsea certain beliefs and intentions. ”9 Even if we start by attributing such categories as belief, desire, and intention to animals, we must then reflect on our own mental lives and ask whether and to what extent our own actions are best accounted for through appeals to conscious states such as belief.

34 We now know that both of these assumptions are false. It is tempting to suppose that if Descartes were alive today, he would not have been able to advance the view of animals that he articulated almost four hundred years ago. Even though few if any contemporary philosophers or ethologists maintain that animals are simply biological machines, a number of these thinkers still adhere to the Cartesian view that animals are incapable of rationality. Bernard Williams argues that we can ascribe beliefs “to non-language-using animals… in the course of explaining a great deal of [their] behavior,” but that animals cannot really have beliefs because they lack the requisite concepts.

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Animals and the Moral Community: Mental Life, Moral Status, and Kinship by Gary Steiner


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