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date: 13 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article considers whether we have moral duties that are owed directly to animals, or whether all duties regarding animals are derivative from duties we have to human beings. It maintains that we have moral duties directly toward nonhuman animals, not merely duties regarding them, and that this claim can be adequately grounded in the thesis of the fundamental standing of animals. Nonetheless, it finds that the thesis of the fundamental standing of animals is in tension with a very different and intuitively plausible thesis called the thesis of the fundamental concern of morality: morality is fundamentally concerned with advancing human welfare by enabling human beings to live together successfully in societies. This article argues that the two theses can be shown to be compatible; even the apparent “speciesism” of the second thesis is compatible with recognizing the fundamental standing of animals.

Keywords: moral duties, human beings, fundamental standing, morality, human welfare, speciesism

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