Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only
Bachelors of Arts (BA)
Animal welfare is an important topic, but it is currently grounded in metaethical theories—moral realism and Kantian Constructivism—that fail to overcome objections raised against them, namely the Darwinian Dilemma raised by Sharon Street. In spite of the failure for animal ethics to have thus far grounded itself in a tenable metaethics, this does not mean that we must forgo belief in the importance of animal ethics. This paper seeks to show that a theory of animal ethics can be conceived even under a non-universal, antirealist position compatible with objections raised against past theories of animal rights. We have a legitimate reason not to harm animals even if we do not derive morality from external sources or claims about rational agency. The metaethical position I will be taking as a baseline for metaethics is Sharon Street’s Humean Constructivism. The Humean Constructivist position does not currently have a theory of animal ethics, but I think that it provides a strong one that avoids all of the problems which the previously described theories face. By holding the value that one should be treated with non- maleficence on a non-conditional basis, one is obligated by rational consistency to treat all other pain-feeling creatures with non-maleficence. My argument for animal ethics provides a way for animal ethics to be preserved while not committing the welfare of animals to untenable metaethics as previous theories have done
Holmes, Elisabeth, "Euthyphro, Non-Conditional Valuing, and the Possibility for Evaluative Error: A Humean Approach to Animal Ethics" (2020). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 1504.
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