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PHL273H1 (1)

Final Exam Study Notes

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University of Toronto St. George
Doug Mac Kay

Moral agents agents who possessthe capacity to act on basis of reasons. Example: human beings Moral patients the beings whose interests/claims have moral standing or are morally relevant. Example: human beings, babies maybe embryos?Animals? Species? Ecosystems? Moral Considerability/Moral Significance: Moral Considerability = moral relevance, moral standing What are the necessary and sufficient conditions of moral considerability? For all A, X deserves moral consideration from A. Moral Considerabilty: Which entities possessmoral standing? Moral Significance: What is the moral weight of the different claims/interests of entities that possessmoral standing? Moral Considerability as Substantive: What sorts of entities should be given moral standing. Moral Considerability as Conceptual: What sorts of entities, here and now, as a matter of fact, possessmoral standing? Moral Considerability as Psychological: What conception of moral considerability is psychologically possible for agent A? Moral Considerability as Regulative: What conception of moral considerability is true? Interests (Singer): Singer believes that having interests is a necessary and sufficient condition of moral considerability. This answers the first question of which nonhuman entities have moral standing (the ones with interests should). Disproving the equal value of human life notion (religious, speciesist and superior cognitive abilities ground) Singer states that an interest is basically consciousness or the capacity for subjective experiences i.e. experience of pleasure/pain. It comes from Benthams utilitarian idea of pleasure/pain, where pleasure is good and pain is bad. Bentham: Can they suffer? Interests as we go down the evolutionary scale: Birds and mammals (yes), other vertebrates (likely), invertebrate animals (maybe), plants and other non-living entities (no). Principle of Equal Consideration: Singer believes that equal interests (including the interests of humans and nonhumans) must be given equal consideration. This answers the question of what is the moral significance of claims/interests of nonhuman entities and how should we treat the claims/interests of nonhuman entities. Equal consideration Equal Treatment Equal Treatment: Treating interests alike or holding entities to be of equal value Equal Consideration: Equal weight for equal interests. Singer chooses, equal consideration because it is wrong to treat entities differently on the basis of a morally arbitrary distinction i.e. speciesism. Equal interests count for one and no more than one. Consequentialism The right act is the act that maximizes the good (the satisfaction of interests). Singers principle the right action is the action that maximizes the satisfaction of interests, where more valuable interests are given extra weight. Regans Critique of Singer: Moral Rights: Absolute (nearly) claim against agent X to perform/not perform action Y. Regans claim: Singer fails to justify the obligation to be vegetarian, or to treat animals in a more humane manner, because he rejects the idea that animals have rights. Singer on vegetarianism: 1) The right action is the action that maximizes the satisfaction of interests, where more valuable interests are given extra weight. 2) Eating factory-farmed meat involves violating the most important interests of animals in order to satisfy ones own trivial interests in the pleasure of taste. 3) Eating factory-farmed meat is wrong (from 1 and 2). Regan objection 1: against premise 2, in what sense are the pleasures of taste trivial interests? Regan objection 2: The conclusion does not follow because the conclusion is reached based on the purpose of the interest rather than the consequence (if we follow the utilitarian method). Based on the consequentialism model of the utilitarianism, Regan argues that if factory farming was abandoned or everyone became vegetarians, it would have a significant effect on socio-economic conditions such as employment in this tens of thousands industry. It also affects the people dependent on individuals employed in this industry such as their family, which may involve subset of interests such as education for children, retirement, health care for the family etc. Regan argues that in such a situation Singer fails to provide a utilitarian account of calculating the interests of people directly and indirectly involved in the animal industry and comparing it to the interests of nonhumans i.e. animals. He also states that Singer fails to forecast the affects of everyone adapting vegetarianism as he fails to provide hard data i.e. calculations of whether the claim feeding grains to animals can now be fed to mass populations is actually possible. Regan Objection 3: Principle of Equal Consideration Animal Liberation Regan utilizes the slave analogy to describe this situation: Merely to count the interests of slaves equitably is not equivalent to liberating them. Why? Because slaves can have their interests counted equitably and still remain in bondage. Why? Because there is no guarantee that, once their interests are counted equitably, they should be liberated (this will depend on adding up all the minuses, and all the pluses, for both slaves and those who profit from slavery). Animal Rights/Animal Welfare: Regans position: Animals that possessthe capacity to experience pain and enjoyment have rights. Although animal welfarists (Singer) are committed to the view that we are sometimes justified in causing nonhuman animals significant pain, in pursuit of institutionalized human interests, animal rightists deny that we are ever justified in doing this. Moral rights are trumps the good others derive from violating someones rights never justifies violating them. Regans argument Step 1: 1) It is wrong to treat severely mentally disabled (nonrational) humans in certain ways, including subjecting them to painful, trivial research, or raising them as a gourmet food source.
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