Moral Status of Animals and Two Types of Potentiality Cover Image

Status moralny zwierząt a dwa rodzaje potencjalności
Moral Status of Animals and Two Types of Potentiality

Author(s): Urszula Zarosa
Subject(s): Philosophy, History of Philosophy
Published by: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Uniwersytetu Szczecińskiego
Keywords: animal ethics; Peter Singer; potentiality; animals; animal rights; sentience

Summary/Abstract: The problem of the moral status of animals holds an important place in contemporaryethical debates. Usually the intensity of ongoing discussions focuses on sentience(the ability to sense pain and/or pleasure) as criterion of moral status, which wasfirst introduced by Peter Singer. This article aims to show difficulties in his understandingof moral status like the argument of substitutability. It also supplementsutilitarian arguments on behalf of the animal’s interest with the notion of potentialityand postulate that the moral status should not only be attributed to the beingsthat are currently capable of feeling pain and/or pleasure, but also: 1) to beingswho currently do not have this capacity but are in the process of its development(eg. fetus), 2) beings that temporarily lack this characteristic they once had, but willregain at some point in the future (eg. human/animal in a coma), and 3) consciousbeings that are not capable of feeling pain (eg. patients with congenital analgesia)but that meet other morally relevant criteria (they are self-conscious, they are partof the family). This introduced viewpoint recognizes our obligation to not causeany suffering in animals (unless absolutely necessary) but also that in the majorityof the cases killing them should not take place.

  • Issue Year: 2013
  • Issue No: 22
  • Page Range: 85-96
  • Page Count: 12
  • Language: Polish