Mary Anne Warren wrote a critique of Tom Regan’s argument that the basic moral rights of at least some non-human animals are in no way inferior to our own. Warren argues that Regan’s case for strong animals right position is unpersuasive and that this position entails consequences, which a reasonable person cannot accept. For the strong animal rights position Regan argues that normal, mature mammals are not only sentient but have other mental capacities. He continues by saying that animals are subject-of-a-life, and that all subject-of-a-life have inherent value. All things that have inherent value are equal and that no inherent value is greater than another. This leads to the respect principle, which forbids us to treat beings who have inherent value as mere receptacles. So, people cannot morally exploit anything that has inherent value, so anything that is subject-of-a-life cannot morally be exploited. But inherent value is vaguely defined. Inherent value is not actually defined by what it is, but instead it has been defined by what it is not. Because of this it is difficult to separate which beings have inherent value and which do not. The sharp line theory suggest that there is a place where a line can be drawn between what has inherent value and what does not, but because of the obscurity of the definition of inherent value it is difficult to find an appropriate place to draw this line.
Warren argues that the strong animal rights position is flawed, and I agree. Warren then adjusts the strong animal rights theory and calls it the weak animal rights theory. The main difference being that the weak animal rights theory allows the rights of animals of different kinds to vary in strength. I like this better because it fits more with my personal feelings that I am the top of the food chain and those below me will be eaten.
Selections from Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals
Duty and Morality
This selection is only the first section of Kant’s Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals. I am only going to discuss duty and morality. Kant gives three propositions regarding duty (p.107). Kant argues that the will that acts from reason is the will guided by duty.
The first proposition is helps us distinguish which actions have moral worth by differentiating acts that are motivated because of duty and acts that are not. Kant shows the differences using a few examples, the first is a salesman who does not overcharge a customer even if he knows they are inexperienced, but the salesman’s reasoning behind this is that he doesn’t want to tarnish his reputation if he were to get caught overcharging an inexperienced customer. Kant says this is not because of morals, because the salesman was not motivated by duty to treat the customer fairly.
The second proposition is “an action done from duty has its moral worth, not in the purpose that is to be attained by it, but in the maxim according to which the action is determined.”(p.107). This meaning that an action is morally good if the motivating forces behind the decision to make that action are good.
The third proposition is a combination of the first two, stated, as “Duty is the necessity of an action done out of respect for the law.”(p.107). Kant thinks you must respect the law. The law is the only thing “which can determine the will except objectively the law.”(p.108). So because the law can be objective, even if you are inclined to break it, you should not.
Duty and reason often conflict for an individual. An example that Kant uses is lying. When you lie, you expect that other people will believe your lie, you believe this because the universal law is that you should be truthful. In this situation you have expected that the universal law you should live by is to be truthful, but you have also decided that you are going to allow yourself to make an exception to this universal law and lie. Kant describes the universal law as the categorical imperative. The categorical imperative is the law by which you should live by to be morally good, but you can also choose not to follow that law.
Kant, Immanuel. “Selections from Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals.” Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals (1993): 104-112. Blackboard. Web. 12 Oct. 2014.