Contractualist ethics in an interspecies context

Author(s):  A.V. Prokofyev, RAS Institute of Philosophy, Moscow, Russia,

Issue:  Volume 43, № 3

Rubric:  Human Being. Culture. Society

Annotation:  The paper demonstrates fatal difficulties of the contractualist normative theory in the sphere of animal ethics. The research rests upon a methodology that combines the top-down moral deduction with some elements of the Rawlsian reflective equilibrium. The author reconstructs two major models of the contractualist ethics: Rawlsian and Scanlonian understandings of the hypothetical contract. In their original form, they can not be used in an interspecies context. Though there are modifications of the original contractualism that supposedly can solve this problem. In the case of the Rawlsian model, it is possible to change circumstances of the hypothetical choice and to thicken the veil of ignorance. In the case of the Scanlonian model, it is possible to introduce the figure of the representative of non-humans’ interests. The author tries to show that every strategy of extending contractualism to provide the basis for non-anthropocentric ethics is doomed to fail and should be replaced by the search for an alternative theoretical foundation

Keywords:  morality, ethics, contractualist ethics, animal ethics, Rawlsian model, Scanlonian model

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