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Kantian ethics and the animal turn. on the contemporary defence of Kant's indirect duty view

By S. Camenzind

Category Journal Articles

Criticism of Kant's position on our moral relationship with animals dates back to the work of Arthur Schopenhauer and Leonard Nelson, but historically Kantian scholars have shown limited interest in the human-animal relationship as such. This situation changed in the mid-1990s with the arrival of several publications arguing for the direct moral considerability of animals within the Kantian ethical framework. Against this, another contemporary Kantian approach has continued to defend Kant's indirect duty view. In this approach it is argued, first, that it is impossible to establish direct duties to animals, and second, that this is also unnecessary because the Kantian notion that we have indirect duties to animals has far-reaching practical consequences and is to that extent adequate. This paper explores the argument of the far-reaching duties regarding animals in Kant's ethics and seeks to show that Kantians underestimate essential differences between Kant and his rivals today (i.e., proponents of animal rights and utilitarians) on a practical and fundamental level. It also argues that Kant's indirect duty view has not been defended convincingly: the defence tends to neglect theory-immanent problems in Kant's ethics connected with unfounded value assumptions and unconvincing arguments for the denial of animals' moral status. However, it is suggested that although the human-animal relationship was not a central concern of Kant's, examination of the animal question within the framework of Kant's ethics helps us to develop conceptual clarity about his duty concept and the limitations of the reciprocity argument.

Date 2021
Publication Title Animals
Volume 11
Issue 2
Pages 11
ISBN/ISSN 2076-2615
Publisher MDPI
DOI 10.3390/ani11020512
URL https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/11/2/512
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal ethics
  2. Animal rights
  3. Animal roles
  4. open access
  1. open access