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How big is the moral umbrella? : (an enquiry concerning moral scope) Mountford, C. Perraton 1995

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HOW BIG IS THE MORAL UMBRELLA? (An Enquiry Concerning Moral Scope) by C. PERRATON MOUNTPORD B . A . , The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, B . E d . , The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia,  1975 1993  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Philosophy) We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA June  1995  copyright:(c) Perraton Mountford,  1995  In  presenting  degree  this  at the  thesis  in  University of  partial  fulfilment  British Columbia,  of  the  requirements  for  an  advanced  I agree that the Library shall make it  freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying  of this  department  or  thesis by  for scholarly  his  publication of this thesis  or  her  Department of The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada  DE-6 (2/88)  may  representatives.  It  be granted is  by the head of  understood  that  copying  my or  for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written  permission.  Date  purposes  ABSTRACT  The q u e s t i o n What k i n d s of t h i n g s  are  themselves? (People? A l l sentient creatures?  morally important  Trees? A l l l i v i n g  in  things?  Ecosystems? Mountains? Rivers? Pebbles? Old cans?) i s p r e s s i n g . Thanks to  'animal r i g h t s '  activism, the  abortion  debate,  environmentalism,  and a sense that technology needs greater moral guidance, analytic philosophy now offers four broad answers: HUMANISM (all and only humans),  SENTIENTISM (all creatures capable  of 'affect'),  VITALISM  (all i n d i v i d u a l l i v i n g o r g a n i s m s ) , and ECOSOPHISM (all l i v i n g individuals plus some natural  'systems'  and,  perhaps,  certain  non-  l i v i n g natural entities). These answers are carefully developed and contain many persuasive elements.  However, c r i t i c a l  exploration  of  representative  literature  reveals that each answer i s predicated on a distinct and  different  view of morality's purpose, and we are rationally free to reject (or all) of t h o s e v i e w s . I n c o n s e q u e n c e , question-begging on  d e b a t e s t a l l s . S h o r t of  appeals to f i r s t principles, the  touting their  relative merits. The  best  positions fall  we c a n  humanists extending consideration to a l l humans resisting  any  say  will face  sentientism, but even sentientism is not  back  is  that  difficulty  rationally  incumbent. Once we look beyond life-forms to whom events can matter i n some way, expansionist arguments  clearly fail to speak  to  humanist  (and sentientist) concerns. Because humanism (and, to a lesser sentientism)  is  informed  by  longstanding  tradition,  a  extent,  considerable  burden of proof impedes expansionist ambitions. The expansionist programme requires finding common g r o u n d ; ground  ii  which i s not obviously i n evidence. To conclude, I offer an explicitly tentative  s u g g e s t i o n for b e g i n n i n g t o r e s o l v e t h i s  impasse. A l l  parties should agree that whatever else morality does (or does not) a c h i e v e , r a t i o n a l morality promotes  human  well-being. And it  is  abundantly clear that human well-being requires a healthy, sustainable environment. Thus, an instrumental, pragmatic, approach to framing moral requirements seems to offer grounds for moral expansion. But can this  essentially  anthropocentric  view  of  morality  and  environmentalism be used to determine what k i n d s of t h i n g s are morally important i n themselves? Separating our reasoning about morality from situated moral reasoning per se, reveals reason to t h i n k the approach can and will support a vitalist, or even ecosophist, account of moral scope.  iii  TABLE OF CONTENTS  Abstract  i i  Table Of Contents  iv  Acknowledgements  vi  Dedication  vii  PROLEGOMENON  1  PART ONE: FRAMING AN ENQUIRY  3  Chapter One  THE INITIAL QUESTION SOURCES OF CONCERN FOUR KINDS OF ANSWER THE ORDER OF THEIR GOING THE LANGUAGE OF CONSIDERATION THE PROBLEM WITH RIGHTS SEEKING A RAPPROCHEMENT OBJECTIONS AND EXAMPLES  3 4 7 13 14 17 19 24  Chapter Two  GOODPASTER'S DISTINCTIONS DISTINCTION 2 (MORAL SIGNIFICANCE) DISTINCTION 3 (INTELLIGIBILITY) DISTINCTION 4 (REGULATIVE CONSIDERATION)  28 28 31 36  PART TWO: THE MOVEMENT FROM INTEREST  46  Chapter Three  HUMANISM AND COMMUNITY MELDEN'S MORAL HUMANISM PUSHING AT THE BOUNDARIES IS MELDEN REALLY A HUMANIST? GENETIC HUMANISM  46 47 51 58 64  Chapter Four  SENTIENTISM IN THE UTILITARIAN TRADITION AN EVOLVING CRITERION HEDONIC SENTIENTISM INTEREST-BASED SENTIENTISM SOFT (NON-PARTISAN) SENTIENTISM  70 71 73 79 88  Chapter F i v e  SENTIENTISM WITHOUT AGGREGATION CAN HUMAN LIFE BE LEGITIMATELY SACRIFICED? TRIAL BY SHIPWRECK THE INHERENT VALUE OF HUMAN LIFE SEEKING A BASIS FOR HUMAN VALUE AN UNFINISHED WORK? MORALS AND CONCLUSIONS  95 96 99 104 107 110 114  PART THREE: THE MOVEMENT FROM ECOLOGY  121  Chapter S i x  LOOKING BEYOND AFFECT THE MATTERING GAP FEINBERG'S ARGUMENT SUMNER'S VIA MEDIA GOODPASTER'S ARGUMENT CLEARING A PATH  121 121 123 129 133 138  Chapter Seven  VITALISM: A DIFFERENT KIND OF STRATEGY ROLSTON'S VITALISM TAYLOR'S VITALISM AN UNACKNOWLEDGED COHERENCE WITH TRADITION  143 144 155 161  Chapter Eight  ECOSOPHISM ECOSOPHISM BY STAGES BRENNAN'S ARGUMENT DEEP (AND TRANSPERSONAL) ECOLOGY  168 169 175 178  PART FOUR: THE MOVEMENT FROM PRAGMATISM ( P o s s i b i l i t i e s Of A New D i r e c t i o n )  186  Chapter Nine  TRANSCENDING INSTRUMENTALISM TWO CHOICES REVIEWING AND EXTENDING FINDINGS THE ARGUMENT FROM PRAGMATISM A COMPROMISE (IS ALWAYS) OPEN TO OBJECTIONS  186 187 189 196 201  Chapter Ten  DEEP HUMANISM A TENTATIVE AND CONSERVATIVE PROGRAMME A REORGANISED MOVEMENT FROM ECOLOGY A PLACE, AND A ROLE, FOR COMPASSION CONFLICT AND OTHER CONSEQUENCES  211 211 213 222 227  NOTES  236  BIBLIOGRAPHY  270  v  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS  T h e r e are many to t h a n k . F i r s t , A v a P e r r a t o n , f o r n o t o n l y supporting me financially and emotionally while I completed the job, but for r i s i n g so well and so graciously to the tasks of proof-reader and j o b b i n g - c r i t i c . Second, I thank my committee. This e n q u i r y as a whole, and Part Four i n particular, owe a great debt to the years of collaboration with my supervisor, E a r l Winkler. That I stayed with t h i s project for so long i s i n large part due to the sustained and tireless support of Roi Daniels; i t i s h a r d to imagine more loyal, positive, practical support. I also want to thank Jack Stewart for coming on board so near the end and yet being so positive and helpful r e g a r d i n g what are, after a l l , some quite controversial proposals. T h i r d , I t h a n k t h e f r i e n d s a n d c o l l e a g u e s who h a v e r e a d a n d discussed parts of t h i s work with me. In particular, Susan Collard helped me find my way to an outline of the early chapters, and to a fuller sense of what I wished to achieve; Joan Bryans read, and offered invaluable comments on, the penultimate draft; and Derek Cook has been tireless i n his support, encouragement, and interest. F o u r t h , I thank Morgan, Amber, and L u c a s — and Morgan i n particular — for accepting the idiosyncracies, as well as the needs, of someone completing a dissertation i n the next room. Fifth, and finally, I thank those many nonhuman friends who, i t seems, have steadily and persistently been helping me set aside my anthropocentric preoccupations.  vi  DEDICATION  To the memory of C. K . R. (Ken) P i e r c e — teacher, p r i e s t , and e x c e l l e n t f r i e n d — w i t h whom I began t h i s conversation. And f o r Morgan, who must i n h e r i t the mess.  PROLEGOMENON  For I will consider my cat Jeoffry. For he i s the servant of the L i v i n g God, duly and daily s e r v i n g him. For at the f i r s t glance of the glory of God i n the East he worships i n his way. For i s t h i s done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness. For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which i s the blessing of God upon his prayer. For he rolls upon prank to work i t i n . For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself. For t h i s he performs i n ten degrees. For f i r s t he looks upon his forepaws to see i f they are clean. For secondly he k i c k s up behind to clear away there. For t h i r d l y he works i t upon stretch with the forepaws extended. For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood. For fifthly he washes himself. For sixthly he rolls upon wash. For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be i n t e r r u p t e d upon the beat. For eightly he r u b s himself against a post. For ninthly he looks up for his instructions. For tenthly he goes i n quest of food. For having considered God and himself he will consider his neighbour. For i f he meets another cat he will k i s s her i n kindness. For when he takes his prey he plays with i t to give i t chance. For one mouse i n seven escapes by his dallying. For when his day's work i s done his business more properly begins. For he keeps the L o r d ' s watch i n the night against the a d v e r s a r y . For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical s k i n and glaring eyes. For he counteracts the Devil, who i s death, by b r i s k i n g about the life. For i n his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him. For he i s of the t r i b e of Tiger. For the Cherub Cat i s a term of the Angel Tiger. For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which i n goodness he suppresses. For he will not do destruction, i f he i s well fed, neither will he spit without provocation. For he p u r r s i n thankfulness, when God t e l l him he's a good Cat. For he i s an instrument for the c h i l d r e n to learn benevolence upon. For every house i s incomplete without him and a blessing i s l a c k i n g i n the s p i r i t . For the L o r d commanded Moses concerning the cats at the departure of the Children of Israel from E g y p t . For every family had one cat at least i n the bag. For the E n g l i s h Cats are the best i n Europe. For he i s the cleanest i n the use of his forepaws of any quadruped. For the dexterity of his defense i s an instance of the love of God to him exceedingly. 1  For For For For For For For  he i s the quickest to his mark of any creature. he i s tenacious of his point. he i s a mixture of g r a v i t y and waggery. he knows that God i s his Saviour. there i s nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest. there i s nothing b r i s k e r than his life when i n motion. he i s of the L o r d ' s poor and so indeed i s he called by benevolence perpetually—Poor Jeoffry! poor Jeoffry! the rat has bit t h y throat. For I bless the name of the L o r d Jesus that Jeoffry i s better. For the divine s p i r i t comes about his body to sustain i t i n complete cat. For his tongue i s exceeding pure so that i t has i n p u r i t y what i t wants i n music. For he i s docile and can learn certain things. For he can set up with g r a v i t y , which i s patience upon approbation. For he can fetch and c a r r y , which i s patience i n employment. For he can jump over a stick, which i s patience upon proof positive. For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command. For he can jump from an eminence into his master's bosom. For he can catch the cork and toss i t again. For he i s hated by the hypocrite and miser. For the former i s afraid of detection. For the latter refuses the charge. For he camels his back to bear on the f i r s t notion of business. For he i s good to t h i n k on, i f a man would express himself neatly. For he made a great figure i n E g y p t for his signal services. For he killed the ichneumon-rat v e r y pernicious by land. For his ears are so acute that they sting again. For from t h i s proceeds the passing quickness of his attention. For by s t r o k i n g him I have found out electricity. For I perceived God's l i g h t about him both wax and fire. For the electrical fire i s the s p i r i t u a l substance, which God sends from heaven to sustain the bodies both of man and beast. For God has blessed him i n the variety of his movements. For, though he cannot f l y , he i s an excellent clamberer. For his motions upon the face of the earth are more than any other quadruped. For he can tread to a l l the measures upon the music. For he can swim for life. For he can creep. . Christopher Smart (1722-1771)  2  PART ONE: FRAMING AN ENQUIRY Chapter One THE INITIAL QUESTION  T h i s e n q u i r y will soon g i v e ' c o n s i d e r i n g ' J e o f f r y  a technical  meaning i n addition to any (likely sense) intended by Smart, and many of t h e  reasons for  considering Jeoffry  will  acquire  significance. But, for now, i n the everyday sense, consider  special another  cat, T r i l b y , who shared my desk throughout much of the e n q u i r y . T r i l b y was abandoned on the freeway, soon after g i v i n g b i r t h , and taken to a humane  society.  'unadoptable'  Only  last-minute  cat from euthanasia  adoption when space  saved  a  withdrawn  was needed  for  new  a r r i v a l s . L a t e r , when T r i l b y was d e a t h l y i l l at 3 a.m., t h e a n i m a l hospital offered to euthanise her on credit, but they wanted cash or a charge c a r d for treatment. Years later, the neighbours clearly thought sorrow misplaced when hungry coyotes ended her life. T r i l b y illustrates how nonhumans, i n themselves, are traditionally granted little moral importance: t h e i r suffering matters to some, obviously  not e v e r y o n e , and t h e i r l i v e s are  deemed  but  of s m a l l  consequence. When simpler creatures than cats are i n question, there i s thought to be even less basis for moral concern, and i t i s broadly accepted that where the capacity for suffering ends, so, too, does any possibility of a t h i n g being morally important i n itself. B u t i s t h i s the b e s t t h a t r a t i o n a l m o r a l i t y c a n do to  protect  other creatures and the nonhuman world i n general? Not everyone i s s a t i s f i e d , a n d t h e q u e s t i o n , Which e n t i t i e s , a n d k i n d s of e n t i t i e s , are morally i m p o r t a n t i n t h e m s e l v e s ? , i s b e c o m i n g a c e n t r a l controversial one i n ethics. This question Chapter One  and  may also be phrased 3  as  metaphors, How broad i s the moral umbrella?. How big i s the moral franchise?, or, i n terms used i n the c u r r e n t philosophical literature, Which entities, and k i n d s of entities, possess 'moral standing' or are 'morally considerable'. However i t i s framed, I s h a l l c a l l t h i s ' t h e  initial  question'.  This enquiry will offer a c r i t i c a l exploration of the major answers to the i n i t i a l q u e s t i o n c u r r e n t l y p r o p o s e d  by academic p h i l o s o p h y ,  explore the impasse which d e v e l o p s b e t w e e n t h o s e p o s i t i o n s , a n d t e n t a t i v e l y o u t l i n e a p o s s i b l e r e c o n c i l i a t i o n p r o j e c t . To b e g i n task,  I shall briefly  sketch the i n i t i a l  question's  provenance,  the then  describe a terminology to use i n discussing i t . That should make good my  claim that the question i s a central one and  will introduce  the  issues i t raises. SOURCES OF CONCERN 'Animal Rights' Perhaps  the  most p r o m i n e n t s o u r c e  philosophical interest  i n the  initial  question i s the  literature and movement. One measure of the consumer resistance i s persuading  of b o t h  popular  and  'animal r i g h t s '  movement i s the  manufacturers  to reduce  way  product  testing on live subjects and the growing hostility to methods used i n 2 raising nonhumans for food.  As we shortly f i n d , contemporary moral  philosophy supports t h i s concern for nonhuman welfare by a r g u i n g that creatures capable of suffering also warrant moral concern. But why i s widespread interest i n nonhuman welfare developing now, when moral p h i l o s o p h y i s a l r e a d y t h o u s a n d s of y e a r s o l d ? I n p a r t , u t i l i t a r i a n moral theory i s surely responsible. But what else has influenced the Zeitgeist? Chapter One  4  Technology Part of the answer appears to be a growing sense that humans are only one life form amongst many others, and are not quite so special, or so e n t i t l e d to p r i v i l e g e , as  most  ethics  and  religions  have  traditionally taught. Alongside t h i s development, and perhaps partly causative of i t , there i s also a growing perception that human  kind  has developed technology so powerful that i t stands i n immediate need 3  of  careful  expands,  d i r e c t i o n and  control.  human k i n d increases  In  particular,  its ability to  as  sustain,  technology destroy,  modify e n t i t i e s . Within t h e l i f e t i m e s of s c h o o l c h i l d r e n ,  and  entities  once well beyond human influence have been adversely affected. The once ubiquitous butterfly has almost vanished from English  gardens,  and environmentalists are arguing that the temperate r a i n forest of the Canadian west-coast i s s i m i l a r l y e n d a n g e r e d , t o t a k e j u s t t w o examples. Closer to home, perhaps, increasingly  we i n the i n d u s t r i a l nations  modified foods t h a n k s  to i n t e n s i v e f a r m i n g  eat and  manipulation of food products. A n d our families are shaped by medical t e c h n o l o g i e s which s u p p o r t p r e v i o u s l y u n v i a b l e b a b i e s a n d  offer  controlled reproduction. The v i s i b i l i t y of t h i s b u r g e o n i n g p o w e r , p l u s i t s p o t e n t i a l to harm both us and our environment, seems to be accompanied by a gathering sense that humans must use technology responsibly. But i f technology i s to be used responsibly, then i t would help to have an ethic capable of g u i d i n g us, a n d one j o b t h a t e t h i c identify  must  do i s  whom or what moral agents are responsible to. Taking  the  butterfly example, are we responsible to those who can no longer enjoy butterflies i n their gardens, or to future generations  Chapter One  who may never  5  see wild butterflies, or, perhaps, to the butterflies themselves? The Abortion Debate In  bio-medical ethics, the  controversy  consequent  on improved  abortion techniques has given its own impetus to the initial question, with fetal moral status becoming a central issue. Although at  least  one philosopher has sought to argue that fetal moral status i s not the 4  central issue of the abortion debate,  the  provocative originality of  t h a t claim has h a r d l y slowed t h e s e a r c h f o r an a c c o u n t of m o r a l standing. This enquiry will not be concerned with the abortion debate or  fetal  moral status  argumentation  per  se,  but  a significant part  of  the  we must deal with has i t s origins i n the search for a 5  principled way of assigning fetal moral status. Ecosophy A t h i r d ' h i g h - p r o f i l e ' source  of interest  i n the initial  question  i s environmental degradation. Environmental concern has occasioned a recent marriage between the science of ecology and philosophy, g i v i n g us what some c a l l ' e c o s o p h y ' , or ' e c o l o g i c a l w i s d o m ' . T h e  issues  germane to ecosophy may not yet be so philosophically popular as the abortion debate, but the attention  paid them i s growing r a p i d l y . In  both philosophy and the press, ecosophy's concern for dwindling trees, d y i n g waters, and dead species i s an increasingly prominent theme. But despite t h e i r shared concern, ecosophy and the popular press t e n d to view e n v i r o n m e n t a l i s s u e s  quite differently, and  the  d i f f e r e n c e i s s i g n i f i c a n t for t h i s e n q u i r y . P o p u l a r e n v i r o n m e n t a l concern usually runs reference offer  alongside a n a t t e m p t to  to the long-term benefits  justify  which environmental  humankind. Where would we be without them? i s the  Chapter One  itself  by  'resources' refrain.** 6  Occasionally, someone  suggests that  aesthetic  grounds, but that only  •resource'  argument.  concern offers  might be  another  justified on  v e r s i o n of  the  7  By contrast, much ecosophical argument i s designed to show why natural entities are morally important for t h e i r own sakes, not for  just  ours. Arne Naess (who coined the term 'ecosophy' and initiated  'deep ecology') has written that, " E v e r y l i v i n g being should have an g equal r i g h t to live and flourish." , and many ecosophists offer  reasons for extending  well. It i s the  moral concern to n o n - l i v i n g  philosophical distance  go on to things  between t h i s desideratum  the traditional concern for human welfare (and, perhaps, the of o t h e r s u f f i c i e n t l y s e n t i e n t c r e a t u r e s )  as and  welfare  w h i c h w i l l p r o v e a major 9  impediment to univocally answering the i n i t i a l question. FOUR KINDS OF ANSWER A Taxonomy Contemporary academic philosophy i s responding to these concerns with a v a r i e t y of what I c a l l ' a c c o u n t s  of m o r a l s c o p e '  offering  principled answers to the i n i t i a l question. A preview of what  they  i n v o l v e , b e g i n n i n g with a simple t a x o n o m y , w i l l p r o v i d e a h a n d y context for future discussion. If t h e v a r i o u s a c c o u n t s are a r r a n g e d a c c o r d i n g to i n c r e a s i n g generosity of scope, they form four main groups. Each one offers a distinct k i n d of answer to the i n i t i a l question which i s supported by particular theoretical considerations, and  --  with two minor  exceptions — each more generous  group completely overlaps  its  predecessors.^  ranges of entities protected  by  Thus, the  different  the accounts of moral scope may be thought as four concentric circles. Chapter One  7  (In  keeping with Peter Singer's 'expanding circle' metaphor, and with  opening up the 'moral umbrella' which gives t h i s work i t s title.) Here is a brief introduction to the four k i n d s of account with reference to some principle exponents whose work will be discussed l a t e r : ^ HUMANISM offers a range of finely differentiated positions. Their e s s e n t i a l s i m i l a r i t y i s t h a t human c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s  which are  not  (thought to be) shared with other creatures are made the basis of the moral franchise. A. I. Melden will be the main exponent of humanism discussed  here.  Humanism i s sometimes called  'speciesism', but  the  term i s p e r j o r a t i v e . ^ SENTIENTISM, roughly speaking, enfranchises a l l creatures of  s u f f e r i n g . Jeremy  Bentham i s  widely  regarded  s e n t i e n t i s t . William F r a n k e n a , Tom R e g a n , P e t e r  as  capable  the  Singer,  first  Geoffrey  Warnock and a number of other contemporary moral philosophers are also sentientists. It i s a popular, 'liberal' view, and perhaps the  nearest  that philosophy comes to a c u r r e n t consensus on the i n i t i a l question. 13 The name 'sentientism' i s common i n the literature. VITALISM enfranchises  a l l l i v i n g individuals, hence the name of  t h i s account. Kenneth Goodpaster provides a pioneering defense  of  vitalism; more recent and more detailed accounts are offered by Holmes Rolston III and Paul W. Taylor. -  ECOSOPHISM takes vitalism a step further, enfranchising species and  ecosystems as  well as  (what are  organisms. Some ecosophists argue  usually thought that there are  of as)  individual  even  non-living,  n a t u r a l l y o c c u r r i n g e n t i t i e s w h i c h w a r r a n t c o n s i d e r a t i o n . Holmes Rolston III offers a seamless progression from vitalism to a form of ecosophism; the deep ecologist Arne Naess i s best characterised as an Chapter One  8  e c o s o p h i s t , a n d so i s h i s i n t e r p r e t e r  Warwick Fox. As the  name  s u g g e s t s , ecosophism i s informed p r i m a r i l y b y e n v i r o n m e n t a l a n d ecological c o n c e r n .  14  For reasons I shall not attempt to anticipate, but which will soon become clear as the enquiry develops, i t will be convenient to think of humanism and s e n t i e n t i s m as j o i n t l y f o r m i n g a ' m o v e m e n t  from  interest', and to t h i n k of vitalism and ecosophism as jointly forming a 'movement from ecology'. Hence the names given to Parts Two and Three of the e n q u i r y . Explaining The C l u s t e r i n g This clustering into four main k i n d s of account i s by no means an inevitable consequence why  of t r y i n g to answer  does i t o c c u r ? P a r t of the  considerations enfranchise  which support  many different  answer  the i n i t i a l question, is that the  each account  are  so  theoretical  sufficient  to  kinds of entity. For example, i f we quit  humanism because nonhuman suffering seems morally significant, i t i s difficult to provide p r i n c i p l e d , persuasive  reasons for limiting moral  concern to a particular group of sentient nonhumans rather than to a l l creatures capable of suffering. It i s as though the  moral umbrella  s t i c k s when we t r y to open i t , then opens with a r u s h when we apply enough force. But the umbrella soon s t i c k s again: the other the answer i s t h a t the t h e o r e t i c a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n s  which  half of support  expansion falter, or fail to have relevance altogether, three times. The Three Major Breaks These breaks i n the movement for expansion are the source (and, arguably, the result) of fundamental moral disagreement, and i t i s the debate about them which i s the main business of my e n q u i r y .  Chapter One  9  Contemporary  sentientism attempts to overcome the  first  break  primarily by appealing to the moral relevance of a l l psychologically grounded interests notwithstanding who, or what, may hold them. Later, I s h a l l a r g u e t h a t a fundamental m o r a l d i s a g r e e m e n t c o n t i n u e s to separate humanism and sentientism despite the work which sentientists have done to ensure a smooth transition. The second b r e a k  — between s e n t i e n t i s m a n d  vitalism  --  is  c u r r e n t l y a major source of controversy. To understand why, think of s e n t i e n t i s m as e x t e n d i n g c o n s i d e r a t i o n t o a l l e n t i t i e s c a p a b l e of e x p e r i e n c i n g what i s done to t h e m , t h i n g s to  whom what  we do  15 matters.  Vitalism finds t h i s insufficient, citing  moral p r o t e c t i o n to n o n - s e n t i e n t  living  matters, or e v e r c o u l d . A t r e e i s t h e  reasons  t h i n g s to  to  which  extend nothing  u s u a l example of v i t a l i s t  concern. Leaving aside the interest which any sentient creature may have i n a tree, humanists and sentientists  wonder how can i t matter  morally what we do to one when i t does not, and cannot possibly, matter to the tree itself. Vitalist answers tend to leave humanists and sentientists  bemused:  until now, moral concern has always been limited to organisms  with  some psychological capacity, and, seemingly quite suddenly, vitalists (and e c o s o p h i s t s ) are claiming o t h e r r e l e v a n t q u a l i t i e s . T h u s , t h e separation between sentientism and vitalism  — which I shall call the  'mattering gap' — i s profound. To those on the  sentientist  the gap i t appears an unbridgable chasm whereas to those  side of on  the  vitalist side i t seems largely i r r e l e v a n t . The final break — between vitalism and ecosophism — i s c u r r e n t l y causing less argument than the Chapter One  mattering  gap; however, i f enough 10  people become persuaded that the mattering gap i s crossable, then the split between vitalism and ecosophism may become a major issue. This is  because  whereas  exclusively concerned  humanism, sentientism, and  vitalism  are  almost  with morally significant i n d i v i d u a l s (according  to an ' e v e r y d a y ' , 'common s e n s e '  view of what i n d i v i d u a l s a r e )  ecosophism extends to systems (on an 'every day' understanding). This not only enfranchises  morally novel k i n d s of entities, i t also  alters  the nature of moral conflict. How, for example, should we balance the reasons for logging a watershed (thus keeping a community of loggers and mill workers i n business)  with the reasons for p r e s e r v i n g that  watershed as an intact ecosystem? As we shall find later, i t i s not even c l e a r t h a t t h e  bases of t h e s e t w o d i f f e r e n t  concerns  are  commensurable. Radical Disagreement Disagreement over these issues i s profound, and dispute over the initial  question i s sometimes  bitter,  with the  ' p r i n c i p l e of c h a r i t y '  often observed i n the breach. In conversation, I have heard humanists d i s c u s s s e n t i e n t i s m as t h o u g h i t were u n i n t e l l i g i b l e , a n d , i n  the  literature, sentientists treat humanism with scant r e g a r d . Each sees the other as making a bewildering ' e r r o r ' , rather than d i v e r g i n g from a common tradition i n a comprehensible i f wrong-headed way. Between humanists and ecosophists, misunderstanding i s almost Two general points about  this  guaranteed. ^  h i g h level of misunderstanding  1  and  incomprehension also warrant advance b i l l i n g . A n Evolutionary Process F i r s t , debate o v e r the i n i t i a l q u e s t i o n may be v i e w e d as  one  aspect of an evolutionary process i n which morality i s adapting to the  Chapter One  11  newly acquired powers I mentioned earlier. Lacking traditions adequate to guide us we are t r y i n g to re-shape, extend, and develop existing moral notions as seems most appropriate. But what seems necessary or appropriate to you may not seem so to me, and our shared guidelines hardly extend so far as the problems we are dealing with. In consequence, there i s not only a pressing need to develop an ethic capable of g u i d i n g our new powers; there i s also a particular need to ensure that accompanying claims about the size of the moral umbrella are supported by arguments and reasons of a k i n d which others can be expected to follow and understand. This p u r s u i t of grounds for moral expansion which are capable of commanding broad understanding, and which can then be presented as worthy of acceptance by a l l moral agents, will be a r e c u r r e n t theme i n the discussion which follows. A Fundamental Issue Second, i t will become apparent d u r i n g t h i s enquiry that each of the  main a c c o u n t s of moral scope i s p r e d i c a t e d  on a p a r t i c u l a r  understanding of morality's informing purpose and aims. These views of morality are justification  'fundamental',  i n the  sense that no more  of them i s available. This entails that any  deep-seated attempt to  offer deductive support for an account of moral scope quickly becomes question begging. But the a l t e r n a t i v e , which i s to set f o r t h  the  particular v i r t u e s of an account, may well fail to satisfy, or even be fully  comprehended b y , c r i t i c s who hold v e r y different  problem, too, will be a r e c u r r e n t theme. It  views. This  will emerge as a  major  obstacle to the broad understanding mentioned above.  Chapter One  12  THE ORDER OF THEIR GOING Conducting A n Impartial, C r i t i c a l Exploration It remains to make some brief comments about the way t h i s e n q u i r y will be conducted. In the interest of impartiality, I must t r y to  set  aside my own bias. I would like to find that there are adequate moral resources for crossing the mattering gap and, ideally, moving a l l the way to ecosophism. But t h i s desire i s based on love for the nonhuman world more than on the k i n d of philosophical considerations which are needed here. In order to t r y to obviate bias and discover morally sound reasons  for expansion, I shall seek  to sketch the  strongest  available case for each expansive step, then attempt to take the view of a conservative c r i t i c i n probing i t s weaknesses. My hope i s that t h i s will reveal both the strengths  and weaknesses of the  different  positions while neutralising my partisan tendencies. A Minor Theme But  the  policy has a drawback. Given that there are  i n h e r e n t i n c u r r e n t attempts  problems  to a n s w e r t h e i n i t i a l q u e s t i o n ,  the  approach will not yield the case for extensive moral expansion which I want to see established. At the end of the e n q u i r y , i n Part Four, I s h a l l s k e t c h t h e o u t l i n e s of an a l t e r n a t i v e  way of t r e a t i n g  the  i n i t i a l question which offers some hope of reconciliation between  the  disputants. Then I shall ask briefly how generous an answer to the i n i t i a l question that approach might sustain. However, I stress, now, that neither reconciliation nor an alternative account of moral scope i s t h i s e n q u i r y ' s p u r p o s e . What I h a v e t o t e n t a t i v e a n d at times s p e c u l a t i v e i n n a t u r e . remains  a  Chapter One  relatively  non-partisan,  say  in Part  Four  The i n f o r m i n g  critical  is  task  appraisal  13  of  representative expositions of the four accounts of moral scope. Three Omissions It should also be noted that the enquiry involves some omissions which, i f unremarked, could cause confusion or concern. F i r s t , little reference  will be made to v i r t u e - b a s e d s y s t e m s of e t h i c s . T h i s i s  because a v i r t u e - b a s e d a p p r o a c h to m o r a l i t y e n t a i l s no p a r t i c u l a r answer to the initial question and i s compatible with any of the four main a c c o u n t s . characteristics human  Virtue-based ethics and  b e i n g ' or  offer  qualities which are 'living  the  a catalogue  a recipe for  good l i f e ' ,  and  it is  p o s s i b l e to c o n s t r u c t t h e r e c i p e i n a c c o r d a n c e  of  human  'being a good theoretically  with any  chosen  account. The second omission i s t h a t n o t h i n g s a i d h e r e i s i n t e n d e d  to  answer the question, Why be moral? I am assuming that a desire to act morally i s a pre-requisite for interest i n the initial question, and I am writing for those already persuaded of the reasonableness of acting morally. If the enquiry began  with the need to justify morality per 17  se, I doubt that we would ever get to the i n i t i a l question. T h i r d , and finally, the enquiry will not discuss ecofeminism. This i s not meant to d i s p a r a g e ecofeminism's i m p o r t a n t a t t e m p t t o l i n k environmental issues to a broader pattern of patriarchal attitudes and behaviour. However, i t does indicate that ecofeminism tends not  to  address the initial question directly so much as assume an expanded 18 moral umbrella as a theoretical starting point. THE LANGUAGE OF CONSIDERATION A Claim To Be Considered We now need a definitive statement of the initial question and of Chapter One  14  the c e n t r a l t e r m s w h i c h will be u s e d to d i s c u s s i t . A l t h o u g h t h e synonyms and metaphors I have used so far will continue to have a place i n the e n q u i r y , t h e i r meaning n e e d s to be a n c h o r e d precisely. I shall do t h i s by adopting  what I call 'the  c o n s i d e r a t i o n ' . Its o r i g i n s are i n a n o f t - q u o t e d  more  language of  passage by G. J .  Warnock: ^ 1  Let us consider the question to whom principles of morality apply from, so to speak, the other end — from the standpoint not of the agent, but of the "patient". What, we may ask here, i s the condition of moral relevance? What i s the condition of having a claim to be considered by rational agents to whom moral principles apply? The "question to whom principles of morality a p p l y " i s , of course, the i n i t i a l question by another  name. A n d the clear sense of Warnock's  discussion i s that an unstated  proviso applies: the  question i s only  concerned with entities which have "moral relevance" or "a claim to be considered" i n (and of) themselves. This proviso i s significant, as an example shows. Suppose that my neighbour i s a Cartesian who t h i n k s that cats are morally uninteresting stimulus response  mechanisms. Even so, she i s  k i n d to my cat out of r e g a r d for me. By her kindness, my neighbour does not confer any moral status on the cat because her concern i s for me alone; the cat i s merely instrumental to my well being. This i s a crucially important  point, and I shall repeat i t . My neighbour only  accords the cat "moral relevance" or "a claim to be considered" i n the sense of the i n i t i a l question i f she takes account of the cat 'for its own  s a k e ' , or ' i n i t s own r i g h t ' . With t h i s r e s t r i c t i o n i n v i e w , I  shall adopt  the  following  definitive statement  of t h e  initial  question:  Chapter One  15  The INITIAL QUESTION asks, If an action. A , will affect an entity, E, what must E be l i k e , i n (and of) i t s e l f , i n o r d e r to p r o v i d e r e a s o n f o r m o r a l agents to take the affect of A on E into account when deciding how to act? Defining The Central Terms Amongst those who take up t h i s challenge, Kenneth E . Goodpaster i s the f i r s t to focus explicitly on the conditions which must be met i n 20 order for something to be deemed "morally considerable".  'Morally  c o n s i d e r a b l e ' a n d two i m p o r t a n t r e l a t e d t e r m s may be d e f i n e d  as  follows: E i s MORALLY CONSIDERABLE i f and only i f there i s sufficient moral reason to take E into account when making a d e c i s i o n which w i l l a f f e c t E , a n d t h a t reason i s grounded i n concern for E i n itself. If and only i f E i s morally considerable then E has MORAL STANDING. (Something which i s considerable has moral standing; moral standing i s the quality of being considerable.) To treat E as a morally considerable entity i s to extend E MORAL CONSIDERATION. (Something which i s t a k e n i n t o account, ' f o r i t s own s a k e ' , t h e r e b y receives moral consideration.) The d e f i n i t i o n of ' m o r a l l y c o n s i d e r a b l e ' a l s o makes i t p o s s i b l e to state t h e i n i t i a l q u e s t i o n more b r i e f l y  while r e t a i n i n g i t s  precise  meaning: The INITIAL QUESTION asks: Which entities, and k i n d s of entities, are MORALLY CONSIDERABLE? It i s these definitions and t h i s version of the which are the  initial  question  basis for the language of consideration. Two further  points need to be made about them. F i r s t , although i t i s certainly most natural to say that there i s reason to take account of something 'for i t s own sake', or ' i n i t s own r i g h t ' , and i t may even  appear  clumsy and pedantic to speak of an entity warranting moral concern " i n  Chapter One  16  (and of) i t s e l f " , i t i s n e c e s s a r y  to p h r a s e t h e i n i t i a l  with c a r e . F o r example, i t i s h i g h l y q u e s t i o n a b l e  definitions  whether  a non-  sentient organism, like a tree, has a 'sake' of i t s own, but i t i s as yet an open q u e s t i o n whether s u c h t h i n g s w a r r a n t  consideration.  S i m i l a r l y , t h e a p p l i c a b i l i t y of r i g h t s i s a r g u a b l y q u i t e  restricted.  Once the language of consideration i s clearly founded, however, more 21 everyday ways of speaking may be adopted where appropriate. 'moral s t a n d i n g ' i s sometimes r e f e r r e d  Second,  to b y i t s s y n o n y m ' m o r a l  consider ability' i n the literature (most notably by Goodpaster), but I shall use only the former t e r m . ^ THE PROBLEM WITH RIGHTS Rights Won't Cross The Mattering Gap My intention to use the language of consideration may prompt an objection from rights-theorists.  Rights-based arguments  significant contribution to the  literature  have made a  on moral standing, and  it  may be said that investigating r i g h t s would be more perspicuous than d i s c u s s i n g the basis of moral c o n s i d e r a t i o n . H o w e v e r , r i g h t s  are  problematic i n the context of the i n i t i a l question. If  we ask,  What k i n d  of entities  warrant  rights?  rather  than,  Which entities are considerable?, moral expansion, particularly beyond the  mattering  gap, i s made more d i f f i c u l t .  paradigm r i g h t s - b e a r e r the f u r t h e r  This is because  i s a 'normally' functioning adult human, and  away from t h a t p a r a d i g m s o m e t h i n g i s , t h e 23  questionable r i g h t s - a s c r i p t i o n s become. to 'animal r i g h t s ' , t h e y mammals, and c u r r e n t  are  more  Although we are accustomed  usually associated  usage and r i g h t s - t h e o r y  with the  higher  do not easily permit  r i g h t s ascriptions to be made much lower on the phylogenetic Chapter One  the  scale 17  than mammals. On a standard interpretation, r i g h t s r u n as far as the mattering gap at best. The Need F o r Neutrality This  limitation  ecosophists,  is  who want to  crucially  important  enfranchise  for  organisms  and  vitalists  and  entities  quite  unlike humans. It i s difficult enough to argue that nonsentient is  considerable  without having to claim, for  example, that  life  'carrots  have r i g h t s ' . In consequence, doing justice to vitalism and ecosophism means not presenting or discussing t h e i r claims i n terms of r i g h t s . And t h a t e n t a i l s c o n d u c t i n g at l e a s t h a l f of t h i s e n q u i r y  without  using a r i g h t s vocabulary. Given the need to compare the claims of positions on opposite sides of the mattering gap, there i s no way the enquiry can become ' b i l i n g u a l ' , so a single, t h e o r y - n e u t r a l vocabulary is needed. (Any vocabulary that i s not t h e o r y - n e u t r a l has scant hope of  being  accepted  by  all parties.)  consideration' fits the b i l l , and I doubt  The  language  whether  of  'moral  any other common  terminology i s able to state without prejudice the claims of humanists (who think that moral standing requires the possession of what will shortly be introduced as 'narrow r i g h t s ' ) , of sentientists  (who think  t h a t b e i n g c o n s i d e r a b l e r e q u i r e s t h e p o s s e s s i o n of p s y c h o l o g i c a l interests  and 'wide r i g h t s ' ) , and of vitalists and ecosophists,  (who  disagree  with both parties). For t h i s reason alone, the language of  consideration must be the language of enquiry into moral scope. A Positive Consequence While t h i s makes the negative case for p r e f e r r i n g the language of c o n s i d e r a t i o n (Here i s a need; what e l s e meets i t ? ) , t h e  positive  aspect of my choice i s also worth s t r e s s i n g . When we ask  whether  Chapter One  18  something i s morally c o n s i d e r a b l e , t h e r e i s no p o s s i b l e presupposition that considerable entities  must  possess  a  built-in particular  quality of any sort: the only pre-requisite for considering something i s a morally good reason to do so, and a substantive argument always be offered f o r l i n k i n g  moral s t a n d i n g  to any  must  particular  quality. In consequence, the language of consideration rninimises the 24 danger of inadvertently begging the question we want to answer. SEEKING A RAPPROCHEMENT Giving Rights-Theory Its Due But r i g h t s - t h e o r y cannot be simply dismissed. If justice i s to be seen to be done to rights-based humanist and sentientist accounts of moral scope then a rapprochement with r i g h t s - t h e o r y i s needed. A basis for one i s suggested by a c r i t i c a l reading of Kenneth E . Goodpaster's brief but fertile attempt to free vitalism from rights-based  hindrance  to moral e x p a n s i o n . He d r a w s a d i s t i n c t i o n b e t w e e n two  different  senses of ' r i g h t s ' which can be adapted to our present  requirements.  There i s a "narrower" sense i n which r i g h t s are roughly restricted to humans, and a "wider" sense i n which r i g h t s can be enjoyed by other 25 organisms.  Because Goodpaster's discussion i s v e r y brief, the nature  of t h i s d i s t i n c t i o n i s best e l u c i d a t e d b y l o o k i n g at h i s c h o i c e of theorists who exemplify the two senses. Narrow Rights Goodpaster's  advocate  for n a r r o w  rights  is  John  Passmore.  Discussing the immorality of being c r u e l to nonhumans, Passmore says t h a t c r u e l t y i s wrong because, " . . . c a l l o u s n e s s , a n i n s e n s i b i l i t y to 26 s u f f e r i n g , i s a moral defect i n a h u m a n b e i n g . "  He c l a i m s t h a t  nonhumans cannot possibly be protected from ill-treatment by granting Chapter One 19  them r i g h t s : The idea of " r i g h t s " i s simply not applicable to what i s non-human...It i s one t h i n g to say that i t i s wrong to treat animals c r u e l l y , quite another to say that animals have r i g h t s . The problem i s that r i g h t s  must be grounded  by membership i n a  cooperative community, and cooperation i s only possible between those who have mutual interests and who recognise mutual obligations. If we follow Passmore, then, NARROW RIGHTS are those which have a roughly 'communitarian' or 'contractarian' basis; they are ' r i g h t s ' to the goods and k i n d s of treatment which facilitate mutually beneficial association. For  example, i f b e n e f i c i a l c o o p e r a t i v e  endeavours  require,  for  example, freedom from physical assault, then that r i g h t i s granted to community members; otherwise, i t i s not. Thus, narrow r i g h t s  contrast  s h a r p l y with t h e l a n g u a g e of c o n s i d e r a t i o n . B e c a u s e t h e r e a r e  no  initial constraints at a l l on the k i n d of entity which can be  deemed  considerable, 'moral consideration' i s a  'narrow  weaker  notion than  r i g h t ' , and so the number of considerable entities i s potentially much larger than the number of narrow r i g h t s holders. With t h i s basis for separation established, Goodpaster i n v i t e s to set aside the unprofitable question "whether...the  us  class of r i g h t s -  bearers i s , or ought to be, restricted to human beings" i n favour of a more r e w a r d i n g e n q u i r y i n t o the c o n d i t i o n s of  'consideration'.^^  However, although t h i s enquiry has already agreed to focus on, Which entities are considerable?, rather than on, Which entities are  narrow  r i g h t s b e a r e r s ? , Goodpaster's p r o p o s a l goes too f a r . He i s s e t t i n g aside the latter enquiry.  This  Chapter One  question as altogether dismisses  the  i r r e l e v a n t to his (and  substantive  claims  of  our)  traditional,  20  humanist rights-theorists,  who link moral standing to the  possession  of r i g h t s grounded i n community membership, and i t i s c o n t r a r y to a 29 p o l i c y of n e u t r a l i t y .  given a  fair  hearing. In consequence, the f i r s t step towards a rapprochement  with  rights-theory consideration  Humanism's c l a i m s must  i s to temper  our  insistence  with an assurance that the  be  on t h e  humanist  language  of  position will  be  examined p r i o r to drawing any conclusions about i t s relevance. Wide Rights T u r n i n g to wide r i g h t s , Goodpaster cites Joel Feinberg (who was the f i r s t contemporary philosopher to seek comprehensive c r i t e r i a of moral s t a n d i n g ) as someone who a s c r i b e s  ' r i g h t s ' i n the  widest  30 sense. Feinberg asks what sort of entities "the principles of an enlightened conscience" must recognise as having claims "to something 31 and against someone" who i s a moral agent.  He calls these claims  'moral r i g h t s ' . They range from a r i g h t to "careful treatment" to a r i g h t to life. Almost any service which a moral agent can render i s a c a n d i d a t e for a moral r i g h t a n d , i n t h i s s e n s e at l e a s t ,  Feinberg  subscribes to a very wide notion of ' r i g h t s ' . Feinberg grounds r i g h t s by i n v o k i n g what he calls the  "interest  32 principle": ...the s o r t s of b e i n g s who c a n h a v e r i g h t s a r e precisely those who have (or can have) interests. I have come to t h i s t e n t a t i v e c o n c l u s i o n f o r t w o reasons: (1) because a r i g h t s h o l d e r must be capable of being represented and i t i s impossible to represent a being that has no interests, and (2) because a r i g h t holder must be capable of being a beneficiary i n his own person, and a being without i n t e r e s t s i s a b e i n g t h a t i s i n c a p a b l e of b e i n g benefited, having no good or "sake" of its own. This summarises a view of r i g h t s which i s compatible with a broadly u t i l i t a r i a n view of r i g h t a c t i o n : r i g h t s a r e g r o u n d e d i n Chapter One  interests, 21  and interests are grounded i n a capacity for benefits and harms. But the interest principle by itself i s not the whole of Feinberg's story. As Goodpaster notes, F e i n b e r g almost i m m e d i a t e l y goes on t o l i n k 33 i n t e r e s t s to d e s i r e s a n d aims. requirement  In this, Feinberg foreshadows  which later writers will state with certainty, and  a  which  has always been part of the utilitarian view: wide r i g h t s are grounded i n interests which have a psychological component. Of course, t h i s last requirement promises to block moral expansion beyond the mattering gap as thoroughly as equating moral standing with 34 the  possession of narrow r i g h t s .  However, Goodpaster rejects  the  psychological interpretation of interests i n favour of one which would allow a l l l i v i n g organisms to possess them. Consequently, Goodpaster is willing to equate moral standing with the possession of r i g h t s i n the widest sense, t h u s subsuming wide r i g h t s within the language of consideration. He offers  this  as the  additional justification 35  needed  for eschewing any discussion of r i g h t s . The Heart Of The Rapprochement Should literature  this  enquiry  follow  Goodpaster?  on moral s t a n d i n g , ' i n t e r e s t s '  are  Given  that,  in  the  almost u n i v e r s a l l y  understood and justified i n psychological terms, i t seems inadvisable to defy the tide. However, i f we allow utilitarians like Feinberg to claim  'interest'  as t h e i r  own, t h e n  this  enquiry  cannot  follow  Goodpaster i n assuring wide r i g h t s - t h e o r i s t s that r i g h t s bearers and considerable entities are one and the same. We s h a l l need an a l t e r n a t i v e p o l i c y . I p r o p o s e t h a t about  moral standing  which use the  vocabulary of  arguments  wide r i g h t s  be  discussed i n that vocabulary, but that the conclusions be translated Chapter One 22  into the language of consideration. This can be done according to the principle that a claim to (or a r e s t r i c t i o n on) moral standing i s based on the p o s s e s s i o n (or t h e e q u i v a l e n t to a claim (or  which  a b s e n c e ) of a wide r i g h t  a restriction)  u n d e r l y i n g reasons cited for granting  based  is  d i r e c t l y on  (or denying) the  the  r i g h t . This  seems an equitable solution because a l l rights-ascriptions must have a rationale, and i t i s that rationale  which i s the final ground of any  rights-based assertion about moral standing. In consequence, i t i s the rationale rather than the r i g h t which i s of interest  here.  The same policy can be extended to narrow r i g h t s , which means that all rights-based claims to moral standing can be evaluated according to the final reasons for ascribing the r i g h t . If the policy i s coupled with a promise to give both k i n d s of rights-based  arguments  moral scope a fair hearing, then i t provides the rapprochement  about with  r i g h t s theory which t h i s enquiry needs. What I Understand By A ' R i g h t ' So f a r , I have d i s c u s s e d t h e r e l a t i o n s h i p b e t w e e n c o n s i d e r a t i o n without s a y i n g e x p l i c i t l y  rights  and  what I t h i n k a ' r i g h t ' i s .  Although I do not want to probe deeply into the nature of r i g h t s , a b r i e f statement may p r o v e h e l p f u l . P a r t l y t o a c h i e v e  consistency  across the different accounts of r i g h t , and partly because I find that 36 doing so makes good sense, I understand ' r i g h t ' as follows: A RIGHT i s e i t h e r a g e n e r a l l y e s t a b l i s h e d a n d accepted (i.e. a ' v a l i d ' ) c l a i m t o c e r t a i n g o o d s or treatment, or i t i s a c l a i m w h i c h t h o s e who a s s e r t the r i g h t believe s h o u l d r e c e i v e g e n e r a l acceptance. By a 'claim', I mean a demand supported by rational argument. A 'narrow r i g h t ' devolves upon a claim supported by the for  social l i v i n g , and  Chapter One  — contrary  to Goodpaster  requirements  — a 'wide  right' 23  devolves upon the possession of psychologically based interests. This finally and unequivocally locates r i g h t s as  well as interests  on  the  conservative side of the mattering gap. OBJECTIONS AND EXAMPLES Attempting To Re-Assert The Primacy Of Rights Despite the proposed rapprochement  with r i g h t s - t h e o r y , i t might  s t i l l be insisted that r i g h t s - t h e o r y ' s long tradition and history does make i t a more perspicuous vehicle of e n q u i r y than the little-known language of c o n s i d e r a t i o n . H o w e v e r , t h i s i s m i s g u i d e d . W h a t e v e r insights traditional r i g h t s - t h e o r y to t h i s enquiry  because r i g h t s - t h e o r y  Because i t i s the finally  offers, they  reasons for  matter, not the  there i s no reason  are equally  accessible  i s not going to be ignored.  moral expansion or restriction  language  i n which  we couch those  to think that primarily using the  which  reasons,  language  of  consideration will obscure any relevant considerations. An apologist for r i g h t s may also claim that ' r i g h t ' i s somehow a more fundamental  notion than  'consideration'; therefore,  t a l k of  consideration must always eventually come down to r i g h t s . But t h i s , too, i s m i s g u i d e d . The l a n g u a g e  of c o n s i d e r a t i o n i s merely a  convenient,  hopefully  relatively neutral,  and  transparent  means of  r e f e r r i n g to the reasons which support our choices to consider or not consider entities. Because i t i s those choices which are  fundamental,  neither vocabulary i s the more fundamental. The Objection From 'Thinness' A determined c r i t i c might also a r g u e t h a t t h i s n e u t r a l i t y  and  transparency  have been bought by sacrificing content. Moral standing  is  with such a broad range of treatment that i t may be  consistent  Chapter One  24  thought  to lack practical or philosophical significance. For example,  although sentientists  argue that i t i s  v i t a l i s t s t h i n k i t acceptable  to  eat  closer inspection reveals a different adequate moral justification for any  w r o n g to eat  (considerable) story.  cows,  even  carrots.  But  Whereas there must  action affecting  a  be  considerable  e n t i t y , an i n c o n s i d e r a b l e e n t i t y i s p r e c i s e l y t h a t : u n l e s s  it  has  i n s t r u m e n t a l s i g n i f i c a n c e , an i n c o n s i d e r a b l e e n t i t y c a n be t r e a t e d 37 however one chooses.  It i s p r e c i s e l y b e c a u s e t h e n o t i o n s ' m o r a l  c o n s i d e r a t i o n ' a n d 'moral s t a n d i n g ' a r e so b r o a d l y a p p l i c a b l e a n d ' t h i n ' that they permit us to identify and discuss t h i s important  but  elusive difference. A Disagreement About Fetal Moral Status But  despite  all that  has  been  said  about  the  language  of  consideration, what must finally recommend i t i s proof of i t s capacity to facilitate c r i t i c a l e n q u i r y . Because my own exploration of accounts of moral scope may be thought  current  too partisan a test,  here,  briefly, i s more evidence of its u t i l i t y . Suppose t h a t an a b o r t i o n ' l i b e r a l ' t h i n k s i t i m p l a u s i b l e t h a t a f i r s t trimester fetus should have full-blooded r i g h t s i n the same way as a human adult, but does t h i n k that the fetus deserves some moral p r o t e c t i o n . F o r example, s a y s t h e  liberal, aborting  the  fetus  is  acceptable, b u t e x p e r i m e n t i n g on i t i s n o t . U t i l i s i n g a d i s t i n c t i o n between r i g h t s and consideration the liberal can claim that although the fetus does not have r i g h t s (and hence has no r i g h t to life) fetus  i s s t i l l morally c o n s i d e r a b l e .  The l i b e r a l ' s p o s i t i o n  the  needs  explaining, and we may yet decide that the liberal i s misguided. But the soundness of the position i s not the issue here. What matters i s Chapter One  25  t h a t by e m p l o y i n g b o t h the t e r m s ' r i g h t ' a n d ' c o n s i d e r a t i o n ' ,  the  liberal i s enabled to recognise and explain that the argument i s about consideration, not about full-blooded r i g h t s , and so avoid needless confusion. P u r s u i n g t h i s example a little further, s e e k i n g rapprochement  i f the abortion l i b e r a l i s  with a b o r t i o n c o n s e r v a t i v e s , a n o t i o n l i k e  consideration could usefully bridge the gap between a position which s a y s no r i g h t s (extremely l i b e r a l ) a n d a p o s i t i o n w h i c h s a y s  full  r i g h t s (extremely conservative). A Misunderstanding About ' R i g h t s ' Even disputants  who would both prefer  to use the language of  r i g h t s when discussing moral standing may encounter confusion which will be alleviated by t a l k i n g of consideration. If you generally think of r i g h t s i n 'narrow', communitarian terms, while I think that involve  psychologically grounded  interests,  we a r e  rights  set  for  misunderstanding. Despite our similar vocabulary, our sense of when i t is appropriate to ascribe r i g h t s will ground i n quite different  moral  traditions. If and when the problem becomes apparent, we may t r y to clarify matters by making our different theoretical backgrounds clear. However, I suspect that continuing to use the  key notion  'rights',  while d i s a g r e e i n g so deeply about what r i g h t s i n v o l v e , w i l l hinder communication. We would be better served by the  still  connotation-  free language of consideration. The S p i r i t Of Contention Finally, there is a reason  for p r e f e r r i n g  the  language  of  c o n s i d e r a t i o n o v e r t h a t of r i g h t s w h i c h w i l l p r o b a b l y be  thought  controversial, but which will, hopefully, gain validity as the  enquiry  Chapter One  26  progresses. Among the accounts of moral scope that we will consider, several are part of a self-conscious attempt to develop environmental ethics which rest, i n part, on empathy for other forms of life and a humbler sense of humankind's place i n the scheme of things. Even i f the language of r i g h t s could, somehow, be freed of the presuppositions w h i c h b i n d i t to humanism a n d s e n t i e n t i s m , i t w o u l d s t i l l  carry  adversarial and combative connotations contrary to t h i s goal. Simone 38 Weil said of r i g h t s that: They evoke a latent war and awaken the s p i r i t of contention. [They]...inhibit any possible impulse of charity... And I want to ensure that nothing i s done to i n h i b i t t h i s impulse of charity, even if, as yet, we are unsure of i t s relevance.  Chapter One  27  Chapter Two GOODPASTER'S DISTINCTIONS  As well as advocating the language of consideration i n  preference  to r i g h t s - t h e o r y , Goodpaster's pioneering discussion of vitalism marks distinctions which are intended to guide our use of the language of c o n s i d e r a t i o n . Goodpaster  describes  four  related  distinctions  he  t h i n k s we need to keep i n mind when answering the initial question:* 1. T h e d i f f e r e n c e b e t w e e n g r a n t i n g moral consideration to an entity, E , and ascribing r i g h t s to E. 2. T h e d i f f e r e n c e b e t w e e n g r a n t i n g E m o r a l consideration and granting E a specific degree of . moral significance. 3. The difference between a s k i n g , Is there overall reason to t h i n k that E i s a considerable entity?, and asking Can E be intelligibly said to possess a p a r t i c u l a r q u a l i t y , or set of g u a l i t i e s , w h i c h guarantee moral standing?. 4. T h e d i f f e r e n c e b e t w e e n d e c i d i n g , as a consequence of moral enquiry and debate, that E should be granted moral consideration, and being p s y c h o l o g i c a l l y and p h y s i c a l l y a b l e t o g r a n t E consideration. Like Distinction 1, Distinctions 2, 3, and  4 each  seek to  o u r a t t e n t i o n on matters w h i c h are c e n t r a l t o t h e i n i t i a l while marginalising problems  focus  question  we can afford to ignore, and they a l l  involve issues which interpenetrate to some degree. Elucidating those issues, and evaluating Goodpaster's advice regarding them, will help set the course for the rest of the e n q u i r y . DISTINCTION 2 (MORAL SIGNIFICANCE) A Necessary Separation D i s t i n c t i o n 2 i s t h e s i m p l e s t d i s t i n c t i o n t e x t u a l l y , a n d my restatement merely paraphrases Goodpaster; the distinction highlights Chapter Two  28  the difference between being a member of the class of considerable t h i n g s and being more or less important than  other  members. This  enables us to g r a n t t h a t d i f f e r e n t t h i n g s may w e l l v a r y i n t h e i r degree of 'moral significance' (thus,  having greater or lesser  claim  on moral agents) while s t i l l remaining considerable. This i s important because i t means t h a t e n q u i r y may f o c u s on t h e i n i t i a l almost  exclusively, and  s i g n i f i c a n c e . As with  ignore  questions  most d e t a i l e d  about  questions  question,  relative  moral  of t r e a t m e n t ,  the  minutiae i n v o l v e d i n a s s i g n i n g d e g r e e s of m o r a l s i g n i f i c a n c e entities are  more likely to hinder than  moral s t a n d i n g .  to  promote broad insights into  2  Moral Egalitarianism The problem could also be avoided by simply embracing 'moral egalitarianism' and assuming, from the outset of the e n q u i r y , that all considerable t h i n g s will be equally important. But that creates more problems than forms  i t solves. Although some expansionists  of egalitarianism, others t h i n k  a  do argue for  moral hierarchy i s  needed;  thus, neutrality requires conducting an enquiry which can do justice to both views. From a tactical standpoint, threatens to be a serious embarassment mitigate i t s consequences: threaten a l l sentient  moral egalitarianism also  unless something i s done to  egalitarian sentientism, for example, would  creatures — humans, cats, and slugs  — with  equal moral status, and who would endorse that? A n Imperfect Separation But,  despite t h e o b v i o u s u t i l i t y of t h i s s e p a r a t i o n  of  issues,  some d i s c u s s i o n of moral r a n k i n g a n d m o r a l e g a l i t a r i a n i s m w i l l  be  u n a v o i d a b l e . F o r one t h i n g , t h e a c c e p t a b i l i t y of m o r a l e x p a n s i o n  Chapter Two  29  depends partly upon the  provisions made for p r e s e r v i n g traditional  moral hierarchies or upon showing them misguided. For another t h i n g , moral c o n f l i c t would a p p e a r u n a v o i d a b l e , p a r t i c u l a r l y i f t h e m o r a l franchise  is  enlarged;  therefore,  those  convince us that they have a satisfactory extended  advocating  expansion  must  way of dealing with i t . An  moral hierarchy i s one solution, and — strange as i t may  seem now — moral egalitarianism could be another. Because evaluating e i t h e r k i n d of s o l u t i o n w i l l i n v o l v e d i s c u s s i n g r e l a t i v e moral significance, t h i s i s a further  reason why the i n i t i a l question  cannot  be entirely separated from the issue of moral r a n k i n g . An Attempted Reductip With D i s t i n c t i o n chapter  2 i n h a n d , an  objection  raised  i n the  last  may be dealt with more fully now. In effect, i t was claimed  t h a t 'moral c o n s i d e r a t i o n ' a n d  'moral standing'  are  such  'thin'  notions that no important difference exists between being considerable and being inconsiderable. This may be offered i n itself as a for rejecting moral expansion, or used as the basis of an  reason  attempted  3  reductio ad absurdum: Moral expansion followed by r a n k i n g an expanded moral hierarchy would be tantamount to making no changes at a l l , merely d r e s s i n g up t r a d i t i o n a l distinctions and ways of doing business i n a new rhetoric. Therefore, meaningful moral expansion must be e g a l i t a r i a n , a n d t h a t g e t s i n c r e a s i n g l y ludicrous as the franchise increases. The 'no c h a n g e '  assumption  h e r e c a n be a n s w e r e d  as  before:  a  considerable entity cannot be used to serve perceived human interests legitimately without a morally good reason; therefore,  moral expansion  does involve significant change. But I have heard reductio  advocates  r e p l y t h a t because the notion of c o n s i d e r a t i o n i s so t h i n , m o r a l  Chapter Two  30  standing i s a merely technical impediment so long as humans continue to dominate the moral hierarchy. Here i s an example which gives the lie to that charge; i t shows how the notion of moral standing  gains  substance when allied to a specific c r i t e r i o n . Considering Chickens Suppose  we are p e r s u a d e d  considerable because they  are  by s e n t i e n t i s m t h a t c h i c k e n s capable of suffering. It follows  whenever human actions affect c h i c k e n s , we must suffering  against  the  probable  advantages.  c o n d i t i o n s i n which an i n t e n s i v e l y r e a r e d n u t r i t i o n a l q u a l i t y of i n t e n s i v e l y r a i s e d  are that  weigh c h i c k e n  Given the  appalling  c h i c k e n l i v e s , t h e low food, and  the  ease of  substituting other k i n d s of food for chicken meat and eggs,  battery 4  farming becomes indefensible whatever hierarchical decisions we make. Now suppose that we think chickens are not considerable. It i s hard to make a compelling moral case against intensive r e a r i n g . We can a r g u e t h a t c r u e l t y to c h i c k e n s w i l l a d v e r s e l y a f f e c t  humans,  history indicates that even i f t h i s i s t r u e ,  humans are  undeterred,  at  especially  when cruelty occurs  but  generally  a sanitised  distance  5  from the  beneficiaries.  Thus, whatever  significance, a considered chicken i s likely  its to  be  d e g r e e of  moral  much better off  than an unconsidered c h i c k e n . In a sufficiently large moral franchise, being considerable  might prove to have little practical significance  for things at the margin. But, for the rest, being deemed considerable does change the manner of b u s i n e s s .  6  DISTINCTION 3 (INTELLIGIBILITY) Goodpaster's Questions Distinction 3 begins Chapter Two  with G o o d p a s t e r  o u t l i n i n g two  separate 31  questions about moral status: (1) The 'intelligibility question' asks, "What sort of beings can (logically) be said to deserve moral consideration?" (2) The 'normative question' asks, "What sorts of beings do, as a matter of "ethical fact" deserve moral consideration?" Goodpaster suggests that t h i s division of questions  r e s t s on a  more g e n e r a l s e p a r a t i o n between " q u e s t i o n s of i n t e l l i g i b i l i t y " a n d "questions of normative substance",  and he goes on to argue that t h i s  separation i s not total: intelligibility  issues  give way to  normative  ones on close inspection. Even so, the difference between  questions  (1) and (2) i s sufficient for Goodpaster's main point to be that the i n i t i a l question must not be treated as simply equivalent to a matter 9 of intelligibility and to the f i r s t question: ...we must be wary of arguments that p u r p o r t to answer [the normative q u e s t i o n ] s o l e l y on t h e basis of "ordinary language" style answers to [the intelligibility question]. Thus, Goodpaster i s identifying a pair of interpenetrating questions - the intelligibility and the normative questions  — then counselling  us against t r y i n g to enquire into moral scope by asking only  the  intelligibility question. Intelligibility A n d Conceptual Analysis A s s e s s i n g t h i s a d v i c e r e q u i r e s a r e a d i n g of t h e questions involved. 'Intelligibility' i s usually a matter  notions  and  of  one  what  can understand, or conceive of, and public notions of intelligibility are loosely summed up by what linguistic and logical practice allow us to  say  sensibly."^  Goodpaster  suggests  that  questions  of  i n t e l l i g i b i l i t y are u s u a l l y a n s w e r e d b y ' c o n c e p t u a l a n a l y s i s ' ; t h i s involves ascertaining the accepted Chapter Two  c r i t e r i o n for assigning a 32  particular quality, then asking whether something can be said sensibly to meet that c r i t e r i o n .  1 1  F o r example, i f we want to know whether my  hat can be credited intelligibly with redness,  we must ascertain  the  accepted pre-requisites for redness, then ask whether my hat can be said to meet them. In the case of moral standing, the intelligibility question will require deciding which t h i n g s can be said to meet the generally agreed c r i t e r i o n of moral standing. Normative Issues Less obvious i s the strategy which answers the normative question. If we treat Goodpaster's reference to matters of 'ethical fact' as the key, then a f i r s t possibility emerges: the normative question presupposes 'moral realism' and r e q u i r e s us to e x h i b i t f i r m moral facts i n answer, rather than merely citing generally accepted c r i t e r i a of  moral scope  and the  accompanying logical  and  linguistic  c o n s t r a i n t s . B u t t h i s i n t r u s i o n of m o r a l r e a l i s m i n t o G o o d p a s t e r ' s story i s unsupported by anything he says elsewhere i n the  paper.  Moreover, i t i s incongruous with his use of quotation marks around the phrase  'ethical fact':  the  conventionalised reference  suggests  reservations atypical of a moral realist. Better guides to the normative question are i t s name plus the way i n which Goodpaster conducts his own e n q u i r y . A normative question i s one which must be answered by reference to a standard or a regulative principle, and Goodpaster t r i e s to elucidate s u c h a standard  with a  c r i t i c a l p h i l o s o p h i c a l e n q u i r y w h i c h a t t e m p t s to look  behind  conventional and accepted wisdom. Thus — without any reference  to  moral realism — the normative question can be read as r e q u i r i n g an answer based on a clear c r i t e r i o n of moral standing and the  Chapter Two  reference  33  to "ethical fact"  as i n s i s t i n g that t h i s c r i t e r i o n be philosophically  well supported. The Difference Between The Questions Both the i n t e l l i g i b i l i t y a n d n o r m a t i v e  questions  now i n v o l v e  reference to c r i t e r i a of moral standing, but t h e i r c r i t e r i a are chosen in  significantly different  ways.  Whereas  the  intelligibility  question  tends to look to received notions and common usage for a c r i t e r i o n , t h e normative q u e s t i o n r e q u i r e s  u s to be more c r i t i c a l ,  probing  accepted t h i n k i n g and seeking substantive moral argument. This  point  intelligibility  is  important,  and  normative  and  it  bears  questions  restating.  differ  in  The  that  i n t e l l i g i b i l i t y q u e s t i o n r e l i e s h e a v i l y on c o n v e n t i o n a l i d e a s  the about  moral standing without going into the depth r e q u i r e d by the normative question. In consequence,  the  intelligibility  question i s more  likely  to deliver merely the status quo than the normative question i s , and, because t h i s enquiry seeks a generous  and critically  well  founded  account of moral scope, there i s good reason to focus primarily on the normative question. The Lesson Of History It might now be objected that, i f we have any confidence i n our current  morality, the best way to answer the i n i t i a l question i s to  probe received moral notions with a judicious, educated intelligibility  use of  question. But t h i s i s too u n c r i t i c a l . We cannot  s u c h a degree of confidence i n c u r r e n t r e c e i v e d morality has, i n the p a s t , b e e n  beliefs and notions  the  afford when  g u i l t y of a l l m a n n e r  of  wretchedness which we now condemn. Our c u r r e n t presuppositions may be yielding consequences  Chapter Two  which, with the aid of a little hindsight, or a  34  more c r i t i c a l p e r s p e c t i v e , would a p p a l l u s e q u a l l y . A s G o o d p a s t e r  One might argue plausibly, for example, that there were times and s o c i e t i e s i n w h i c h the moral standing of blacks was, as a matter of conceptual analysis, deniable. Examples could be multiplied to include women, c h i l d r e n , fetuses, and various other i n s t a n c e s of what might be c a l l e d " m e t a m o r a l disenf ranchisement". If  "metamoral  disenf ranchisement"  is  read  as  roughly  disenfranchisement because moral consideration would be unintelligible according to c u r r e n t notions, then Goodpaster's apparent point i s as follows: The b e l i e f s a n d s u p p o s i t i o n s of o t h e r t i m e s a n d places offer what were t h e n b r o a d l y a c c e p t e d grounds for disenfranchising some humans. Given those beliefs a n d s u p p o s i t i o n s t o d a y , we w o u l d probably find the disenfranchisement justified i f our only guide to enquiry was the intelligibility question. A l t h o u g h i t i s a matter f o r h i s t o r i c a l d e b a t e w h e t h e r societies have gone so f a r as to t o t a l l y d e n y  and  which  moral s t a n d i n g  to  blacks, women, etc., these groups have certainly suffered abuse as a consequence  of b e i n g g r a n t e d , at b e s t , a low p l a c e i n t h e  h i e r a r c h y . A n d i f t h a t c o u l d have b e e n s u p p o r t e d  by  moral  "conceptual  analysis", there i s sufficient reason to probe our own  suppositions  with care. A Policy Of Caution A n d Scepticism The problem i s that the  intelligibility  question  and  conceptual  analysis probe notions which are i n flux but not usually subject  to  r a p i d change; thus, they have a patina of veracity and 'objectivity' which can e a s i l y e l i c i t a too r e a d y  acceptance.  T h i s makes  intelligibility question well suited to lead enquiry astray,  Chapter Two  the  making us  35  hostage to slowly shifting moral ideas and fashions; the antidote  is  to p r e s s t h e normative q u e s t i o n h a r d . B e c a u s e t h i s p o i n t , t o o , i s c r u c i a l , I shall repeat i t using an analogy. Suppose that we are bird-watchers who are looking for night-owls with binoculars. If we do not find  many owls, that may be because  there are few of them, or i t may be because we are not using n i g h t v i s i o n b i n o c u l a r s . If we r e l y on t h e i n t e l l i g i b i l i t y  q u e s t i o n as a  guide to considerable entities, and we do not find many, that may be because our conventional ideas about moral standing support  notions  which blind us to the moral claims of some entities. There's Really No Choice As i f t h i s was not already enough reason to pursue the normative question, t h i s e n q u i r y really has  little choice given that i t i s  e n q u i r y i n t o moral c o n s i d e r a t i o n . M o r a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n a n d  an  moral  standing are newly coined terms of art, and there i s little agreement about the c r i t e r i a involved. In consequence, attempting to decide the moral status of an entity on the said reverses  the  logical order  cart before the standard-setting  basis of what can intelligibly  of e n q u i r y : i t puts the  be  conceptual  moral horse. By the same token, the  mere i n t e l l i g i b i l i t y of an a s s e r t i o n of m o r a l s t a n d i n g  w i l l be  too  weak to use as a positive guide to moral standing (because we can a s s e r t moral s t a n d i n g  of j u s t  v i r t u a l l y impossible to use the  about  anything),  and  it  will  be  unintelligibility of moral standing  as  grounds for exclusion (for the same reason). DISTINCTION 4 (REGULATIVE CONSIDERATION) Two Kinds Of Moral Standing Distinction 4 i s , perhaps,  Chapter Two  the  most d i f f i c u l t  of  Goodpaster's  36  d i s t i n c t i o n s . It s e p a r a t e s the q u e s t i o n w h e t h e r t h e r e i s r e a s o n  to  consider an entity, from the question whether a particular moral agent enjoys circumstances which permit that consideration. Goodpaster calls the  former  'regulative'  the latter 'operative'  (i.e. agent-independent)  (i.e. agent-relative)  moral standing  and  moral standing. He argues  that an enquiry into moral standing should seek a regulative  rather  14 than an operative account of moral scope. To clarify the difference between regulative and operative moral s t a n d i n g , I s h a l l attempt to e x p a n d u p o n G o o d p a s t e r ' s o w n , b r i e f exposition.  There  are  three  steps  involved.  First,  Goodpaster  introduces the notion of a 'threshold of moral s e n s i t i v i t y ' i n order to represent the psychological constraints on a moral agent. Second, he refers to t h i s threshold i n order to persuade us that i t i s useful to talk  of 'operative  consideration'. T h i r d ,  he  explains  'regulative  consideration' by contrast with operative moral consideration. Sensitivity Thresholds (Step One) 15 Goodpaster introduces thresholds of moral sensitivity t h i s way: There i s clearly a sense i n which we are subject to t h r e s h o l d s of moral s e n s i t i v i t y j u s t as we a r e subject to thresholds of cognitive or perceptual s e n s i t i v i t y . Beyond such thresholds we are "morally b l i n d " or s u f f e r d i s i n t e g r a t i v e consequences analogous to "information overload" i n a computer. To take an example, Peter i s a traditional butcher  whose work  begins with an animal i n a field and ends with a piece of meat i n a shopping bag. We are watching lambs enter his abattoir. Separated from t h e i r ewes, and smelling blood, they are distressed, but Peter hardly notices; t h i s i s old hat to him. However, a young friend who i s with me, a n d who i s familiar  with pets b u t  unfamiliar with l i v e s t o c k  farming, immediately recognises the lambs' distress and t u r n s to me to Chapter Two  37  intervene. I t r y to explain that I cannot help, not j u s t because  the  lambs are i r r e v o c a b l y destined for slaughter, but because Peter would not understand our concern. He no longer perceives distress i n lambs unless i t i s particularly severe and overt. It i s not merely that Peter i s habituated to his work. If e v e r y time he killed and dressed lamb Peter had to view what he was doing t h r o u g h a child's eyes, he would either have to give up his job or endure constant distress. Peter's largely unconscious response to t h i s dilemma has been to employ what might popularly be called a defense mechanism — or perhaps more accurately an enabling mechanism — which allows him to get on with the job. In other words, Peter has developed an i n s e n s i t i v i t y to lambs whereas the c h i l d and I remain sensitive. These differing susceptibilities are what I understand by "thresholds of moral s e n s i t i v i t y " or, more simply, sensitivity thresholds.*^ Examples of sensitivity thresholds are easily multiplied. When we worry about the harmful effects of media violence on moral health, i t is partly this tendency sensitivity  thresholds  to p r o t e c t  which concerns  ourselves by r a i s i n g our us. And when  we  encourage  empathy i n young c h i l d r e n , we are fostering low sensitivity thresholds with respect to certain entities. By contrast, anyone who has involved i n a 'caring profession' knows the  need to  protective sensitivity threshold by  down t h e i r  'turning  been  develop a volume  17 control'.  In general, there i s good reason to agree with Goodpaster  that sensitivity thresholds are a common feature of human psychology and an important part of the moral landscape. Operative Moral Consideration (Step Two) The notion 'operative moral consideration' can now be explicated Chapter Two  38  i n terms of sensitivity thresholds. In Goodpaster's own words: ...the moral c o n s i d e r a b i l i t y of [an e n t i t y , E , ] i s o p e r a t i v e for an a g e n t , A , i f a n d o n l y i f t h e t h o r o u g h a c k n o w l e d g e m e n t of [E] b y A i s psychologically (and i n general, causally) possible for A. The psychological precondition i s straightforward when understood i n t e r m s of s e n s i t i v i t y t h r e s h o l d s : i t s a y s c o n s i d e r a t i o n to something  must  not  that extending  conflict  with  moral  a sensitivity  t h r e s h o l d r e q u i r e d for d a i l y l i v i n g . T h e c a u s a l c o n d i t i o n i s  less  19 obvious, but the following passage offers guidance: An agent may, for example, have an obligation to grant regulative c o n s i d e r a b i l i t y to a l l l i v i n g t h i n g s , but be able psychologically and i n terms of his own nutrition to grant operative consideration to a much smaller class of t h i n g s (though note that capacities i n t h i s r e g a r d differ among persons and change over time). Leaving "regulative considerability" u n t i l the  next step,  the  phrase "be able psychologically and i n terms of his own nutrition to grant  operative  consideration" parallels Goodpaster's  earlier  use of  the words "psychologically (and i n general, causally)" when defining operative  consideration. Therefore,  restrictions  can  be  read  as  the  reference  to  a specific instance  nutritional of a  causal  possibility. It may also be surmised that a causal possibility i s not simply a p h y s i c a l p o s s i b i l i t y b e c a u s e i t i s p h y s i c a l l y p o s s i b l e f o r someone  to ignore  nutritional requirements.  A causal  possibility i s  better understood as something which can be done without undergoing significant  p h y s i c a l harm,  particularly  since  psychological  possibility i s already limited by s e n s i t i v i t y t h r e s h o l d s  ensuring  against psychological harm. A people whose moral f r a n c h i s e i s o p e r a t i v e l y l i m i t e d  Chapter Two  for  39  n u t r i t i o n a l r e a s o n s are the t r a d i t i o n a l I n u i t who l i v e b y h u n t i n g . Inuit cannot their  avoid causing  own l i v e s .  Thus,  nonhuman for  the  suffering  Inuit,  without  there  is  sacrificing  no  realistic  alternative to the hunt, and t h i s lack of options must also be part of the notion of operative consideration; otherwise, i t would become too easy  to  w r i g g l e off the  alternatives  moral h o o k . I n  general,  all  reasonable  must be blocked before i t i s legitimate to deny  entities  20 operative  consideration.  Given  this  proviso,  'operative  consideration' may be understood as follows: E warrants OPERATIVE CONSIDERATION by A precisely when A will not undergo significant and avoidable p s y c h o l o g i c a l or p h y s i c a l harm by e x t e n d i n g consideration to E , and there i s already sufficient moral reason to consider E. Thus, operatively considerable entities considerable entities vital .interests  are  whose vital interests  now ( r o u g h l y )  do not conflict  of moral agents. And because the  physical constraints  on moral agents are  makes sense to understand  those  with  the  psychological and  equally important, i t now  a 'sensitivity threshold' as a defense  or  enabling mechanism which helps protect i n d i v i d u a l s from both k i n d s of harm.  Regulative Moral Consideration (Step Three) The relationship between operative consideration and the notion  of consideration  simpliciter becomes  clear  with  original  Goodpaster's  21 definition of regulative consideration: If the moral considerability of [an entity, E,] i s d e f e n s i b l e on a l l g r o u n d s i n d e p e n d e n t of operativity, we shall say that i t i s regulative. J u d g i n g by the  Chapter Two  way Goodpaster's enquiry  develops, these  "grounds  40  independent  of operativity" are roughly the  considerations adduced  by the  sort of arguments  various accounts  and  of moral scope.  In  other words: E warrants REGULATIVE CONSIDERATION precisely when there i s good reason to extend moral consideration to E i n d e p e n d e n t l y of t h e p a r t i c u l a r n e e d s of i n d i v i d u a l moral agents. Goodpaster  has  now  split  the  original  notion  of  moral  consideration i n two. Regulative consideration i s warranted when there is sufficient, non-instrumental reason to take an entity into account n o t w i t h s t a n d i n g t h e needs of p a r t i c u l a r consideration  is  warranted  when  moral agents.  actively taking  regulatively considerable entity  Operative  account  of  a  will not cause a moral agent  s i g n i f i c a n t , u n a v o i d a b l e harm. T h u s , r e g u l a t i v e c o n s i d e r a t i o n i s a 'theoretical' is  notion of consideration  ' p r a c t i c a l ' . I n consequence,  standing  will be f a i r l y  whereas  operative  assessments  consistent  across  of  consideration  regulative  moral  m o r a l a g e n t s , at  least  within a particular moral tradition, but operative moral standing may, 22 i n Goodpaster's words, "differ among persons and change over time". Good, But Difficult Advice Now  we can assess Goodpaster's  advice to focus exclusively on  r e g u l a t i v e c o n s i d e r a t i o n . It i s s o u n d  a d v i c e , on t h e  face  of i t ,  because we need an answer to the initial question which speaks  for  morality per se rather than particular moral agents. But there i s a problem. Goodpaster i s telling Peter that i f he wishes to understand moral status of lambs, he must 'forget' purely  regulative  view.  This is  hard  he i s a butcher and take a d v i c e to  sensitivity thresholds are usually well entrenched Chapter Two  the  follow  a  because  and, often, we are 41  not even aware of them. But suppose that Peter succeeds i n overcoming t h i s obstacle. He must then- seek lambs moral standing, and that what others  have to say and to  reasons  for and against  granting  will inevitably lead him to moral tradition and  enquire  moral debate.  Unfortunately, both of these sources offer judgements which are partly informed by the sensitivity thresholds of Peter's moral neighbours and t h e i r predecessors. This i s unavoidable because moral thought  depends  upon the sensitivity of moral agents to reveal circumstances which may have moral s i g n i f i c a n c e . F o r example, i f h u m a n s  were c o m p l e t e l y  i n s e n s i t i v e to nonhuman s u f f e r i n g , i t i s h i g h l y u n l i k e l y  that  sentientism would have developed. Even i f Peter can set aside his own threshold  needs as a b u t c h e r ,  tradition, a generalised  as  soon as  sensitivity threshold  he will  appeals  to  moral  be informing his  judgements about moral standing. Considering Teddy Bears Peter  might also t r y following  Goodpaster's  a d v i c e as  an  independent moral agent who, without reference to t r a d i t i o n , works to lower his own sensitivity threshold so that i t permits s e n s i t i v i t y to lambs, then adjusts any moral traditions which are prejudiced against 23 lambs, and finally ask whether lambs have moral standing.  But the  process can have strange consequences. Suppose that the moral status of teddy bears rather than lambs be in question. Following the above procedure, sensitivity threshold respecting teddy  Peter lowers his  bears and avoids or modifies  moral t r a d i t i o n s which e v i n c e a n t i - t e d d y p r e j u d i c e . (No, i t i s n o t impossible to do. There are l o t s of c h i l d r e n i n t h e  world  acutely  sensitive about teddy bears, and many adults will s t i l l flinch i f they Chapter Two  42  see you abuse one.) In consequence, Peter becomes persuaded that teddy bears are morally considerable. Those of us who are s t i l l unconvinced might construct counter-arguments, but i t remains open to a teddy activist to r e p l y that those arguments partly depend upon sensitivity thresholds which blind us to the ' t r u e ' moral nature of teddies. The Steps Which Brought Us Here Something, s u r e l y , has gone wrong. Let us review the steps which brought us here: Distinction 4 separates an operative, agent-relative view of moral standing (which i s coloured by i n d i v i d u a l psychological and physical needs)  with a regulative, agent-independent  view of moral standing  (which i s untainted by need). I have argued that moral thought i s not entirely separable from moral s e n s i t i v i t y .  It follows t h a t  a fully  regulative,  agent-  independent view of moral standing, uninfluenced by psychological or physical needs, i s not an option. I  have also suggested that an agent-independent  view can  be  approximated by sensitising ourselves to the entity whose moral status is c u r r e n t l y i n question. However, i f we do that, i t will be h a r d to show that there are entities which are not morally considerable. A T h i r d Option The sensible course now i s compromise. Moral tradition and debate are needed to ' i r o n out' i n d i v i d u a l idiosyncracies and offer a k i n d of 'intersubjective sensitivity t h r e s h o l d ' which will preclude 'teddy bear'  morality. But t h i s still leaves judgements  about  moral  hostage to s e n s i t i v i t y t h r e s h o l d s , w h i c h a p p e a r s t o be j u s t  status what  Goodpaster wants to avoid. And t h i s i s not an instance when achievable  Chapter Two  43  'intersubjectivity'  can replace the  desired 'objectivity' at  no  cost.  However, like any other aspect of morality, sensitivity thresholds may be, a n d s h o u l d be, c r i t i c i s e d i n t e r m s of t h e i r c o n s i s t e n c y , t h e i r consequences, and the depth of our need.  Developing a more-than-  usually sensitive, regulative, p e r s p e c t i v e  will help those  of  us  involved i n moral e n q u i r y to 'see' entities without r e g a r d to our own psychological or physical needs and f u r n i s h a basis for criticism and re-evaluation. It will then be a matter for debate whether morality 24 generally should follow suit. Still A Difficult Issue  But  perhaps t h i s i s an over simplification of what lies ahead i n  that we are  going to experience competing pulls towards  both  the  o p e r a t i v e a n d the r e g u l a t i v e p e r s p e c t i v e s . On t h e one h a n d ,  the  i n i t i a l question i s a practical question about how we should l i v e , and we  cannot  determine an answer  without situating  ourselves  particular moral agents subject to psychological and physical  as  needs.  On the other hand, t h i s i s a philosophical e n q u i r y into moral scope, and  we r e q u i r e  an answer  which i s  sufficiently  impartial and  'distanced' to be both recognisably moral and rationally persuasive. What i s c e r t a i n i s t h a t we must g u a r d a g a i n s t  an  uncritical  acceptance of o p e r a t i v e r e s t r i c t i o n s o n m o r a l s t a n d i n g . We s h o u l d always keep Peter the butcher i n mind and, when i t seems clear that e n t i t i e s e n c o u n t e r e d i n o u r e v e r y d a y l i v e s a r e i n c o n s i d e r a b l e , we s h o u l d ask to what extent c o n c e r n f o r o u r own p s y c h o l o g i c a l o r physical welfare i s responsible for that judgement and what conclusion a more detached perspective might yield. At the same time, we must recognise that a purely agent-independent, regulative account of moral Chapter Two  44  scope i s impossible because  morality necessarily  makes  judgements  about appropriate levels of s e n s i t i v i t y . The importance of both these points was brought sharply home when I lived i n Bhutan. Feral, cat-eating, often r a b i d dogs were part of everyday life, and they  were treated  h a r s h l y . My i n i t i a l compassion  soon gave way to the local practice of greeting s t r a y s with stones and curses, and I was a passive accomplice while my students hunted and stoned our local scavengers. In a l l , i t took about a decade for my warmth t o w a r d s dogs to r e t u r n a n d f o r me to r e - a c q u i r e a d o g companion. In retrospect, i t was a profoundly significant experience, teaching me the mutability of perceptions I had built my life around.  Chapter Two  45  PART TWO: THE MOVEMENT FROM INTEREST Chapter Three HUMANISM AND COMMUNITY  Humanism i s the point of departure for our exploration of c u r r e n t a c c o u n t s of moral scope. It i d e n t i f i e s t h e m o r a l f r a n c h i s e  roughly  with a l l and only humans, t h u s g i v i n g a traditional answer  to  the  i n i t i a l question which the other accounts need to show i n e r r o r . This last  point  needs  stressing  because  c r i t i c s sometimes  give  the  impression that humanism i s a l l but extinct. My own experience i s that although  humanism i s  poorly  represented  in  current  academic  philosophy, i t soon surfaces i n debate about the issues described i n Part One, and i t i s certainly alive and well outside p h i l o s o p h y . Altogether, there are a number of different  1  forms of humanism  prominent i n history and i n philosophical writing. The most  notable  are ' r a t i o n a l humanism' ( w h i c h makes r a t i o n a l i t y t h e c r i t e r i o n of moral s t a n d i n g ) , ' m o r a l humanism' ( w h i c h d e m a n d s  reciprocating  membership i n a human community), and t r u e 'speciesism' or  'genetic  humanism' (which only requires the possession of human genes). It will also be useful to recognise a version of humanism, 'neighbourhood humanism', which was common i n the classical world: the Greeks who began moral philosophy appear to have limited the moral franchise to close human neighbours, finding nothing wrong when a victor raped, plundered, and enslaved a conquered c i t y . The main focus here will be moral humanism: i t offers the most persuasive basis for imposing both necessary and sufficient humanist conditions on the moral franchise. As will be my practice throughout t h i s exploration of the accounts of moral scope — and i n keeping with Part One — the language of Chapter Three  46  c o n s i d e r a t i o n w i l l be my p r i m a r y v e h i c l e of d i s c u s s i o n . A e s t h e t i c considerations  will not be discussed, and r i g h t s ascriptions will be  evaluated according to t h e i r grounds. (Which i s roughly i n accordance with G o o d p a s t e r ' s  Distinction  1.)  relative moral standing i n so far  I shall  avoid  questions  as that i s possible  about  (Goodpaster's  D i s t i n c t i o n 2), t r e a t t h e a p p a r e n t i n t e l l i g i b i l i t y of a n a s s e r t i o n of moral standing as, at best, only an approximate guide to moral status (Goodpaster's D i s t i n c t i o n 3), a n d  I shall  seek  to  make  putative  accounts as independent of the everyday needs of moral agents as i s possible (Goodpaster's Distinction 4). MELDEN'S MORAL HUMANISM A Criterion Grounded In Community  The most careful and thorough treatment of humanism i n the recent literature i s offered by A. I. Melden. His desideratum i s a complete ethics founded i n the requirements for s o c i a l l i v i n g , but,  despite  t h i s ambitious sweep, the essence of Melden's humanism can be briefly 2 stated.  Melden i s a ' n a r r o w - r i g h t s ' theorist who argues that r i g h t s  arise i n consequence of membership i n a moral community within which common goods are p u r s u e d . To be a r i g h t s - b e a r e r — and, therefore, on Melden's account, to have moral standing — i s to be someone with whom others can coordinate plans and behaviour i n the p u r s u i t of shared ends.  According to Melden, ascribing n a r r o w - r i g h t s and  correlative  obligations i s the chief way of achieving coordination within a moral community, and promising i s , thus, the paradigm of a moral relation. Melden uses his aetiology of r i g h t s to draw some initially 3 conclusions about who can be r i g h t s bearers. rational, in order Chapter Three  to r e c o g n i s e  strong  Rights bearers must be  and act on t h e i r  rights  and 47  obligations, and they  must also be predisposed to act morally. (For  Melden, u n l i k e Kant, a c t i n g r a t i o n a l l y need not e n t a i l a c t i n g 4  morally. ) F i n a l l y ,  Melden a s s e r t s t h a t  rights  bearers  genetically human i n order to share the common interests  must  be  which glue  the moral community together. The Objection From Current Practice  This i s a v e r y limited account of moral scope, adding together i t does the restrictions imposed by rational and genetic  as  humanism,  then narrowing the franchise further by demanding moral agency. Melden i s immediately open to the objection that his humanism i s inconsistent with c u r r e n t practice because moral consideration i s routinely granted to humans who are neither rational nor moral agents. The most powerful counter-example  i s c h i l d r e n . Whatever theoretical reasons  we might  cite i n s u p p o r t , we can h a r d l y d e n y t h a t r e c e i v e d m o r a l i t y does 5  enfranchise them.  Children may not have precisely the same degree of  moral s t a n d i n g as a d u l t moral a g e n t s ,  but  they  certainly  have  significant moral standing. Furthermore, i t i s not only c h i l d r e n whom Melden threatens to put beyond the  moral pale. He also disenfranchises  intellectually  or  psychologically incapable  of  a l l adults  who  rational or  are  moral  agency. With respect to rational incapacity, there may be a question how m u c h p r o t e c t i o n c u r r e n t  who  are  intellectually impaired, but it i s , again, undeniable t h a t they  are  accorded some c o n s i d e r a t i o n .  6  morality affords  those  Even psychopaths seem to be i n c l u d e d  under the moral umbrella. Whereas product-testing on nonhumans  is  routine, received morality certainly does not sanction product-testing on the p a r t i c u l a r l y wicked. Chapter Three  48  Seeking A Better F i t  The o n l y r e a l i s t i c r e s p o n s e to t h i s o b j e c t i o n i s t o l o o s e n  the  c r i t e r i a of moral s t a n d i n g , a n d t h a t i s what M e l d e n d o e s . He i s particularly concerned to enfranchise c h i l d r e n , and he offers  reasons  f o r g r a n t i n g them r i g h t s at n u m e r o u s p o i n t s i n h i s t e x t , i n context of v a r i o u s t o p i c s . Two r e l a t i v e l y c l e a r l y s t a t e d  the  reasons  appear for granting r i g h t s to humans incapable of agency. The f i r s t reason i s that c h i l d r e n and others who are dearly loved by community 7  members are  brought  within i t s shelter  by that love.  The second  reason i s that the r i g h t s of infants and others l a c k i n g agency can be p  adequately grounded i n t h e i r interests. Before we object that being 'sheltered' i s not the same as being a r i g h t - h o l d e r , or that having interests i s not obviously r e s t r i c t e d to community members, we should note that neither reason i s apparently i n t e n d e d to s t a n d alone. F o r M e l d e n , c h i l d r e n a n d o t h e r s  lacking  agency are not morally special j u s t because we love them, or because they  have interests  per se. They are  morally special because  their  interests and ours cannot be properly separated or taken i n isolation: a c h i l d i s an i n t e g r a l part of at least one, hopefully several adult l i v e s ; an adult incapable of rational agency i s a s i b l i n g , parent, friend  or  who remains a partner i n a common enterprise. Thus, Melden  views humans  who are  not full  rational agents as i n t e g r a l to  the  p u r s u i t of human goods even though their intentional contribution to those goods may be v e r y limited. (Note that even sociopaths are not excluded from the community and b a r r e d from r i g h t - h o l d i n g by_ the community. According to Melden, they exclude themselves by "choosing Chapter Three  49  a n d d e c i d i n g . . . i n complete i n d i f f e r e n c e t o t h e  m o r a l i n t e r e s t s of  others." ) 9  'Strict' A n d 'Generous' Moral Humanism  In  consequence  relationships, are  bound  of  this  relatively  sane  Melden's 'moral community' consists together  by  interlocking  view  of  human  of a l l those  relationships,  who  needs,  and  expectations. This i s more generous than might be expected of moral humanism, and i t i s useful to mark that generousity by identifying two possible k i n d s within moral humanism: STRICT moral humanism extends moral standing only to humans who are f u l l , reciprocating members of a moral community. Melden's GENEROUS moral humanism also includes c h i l d r e n a n d o t h e r h u m a n s i n c a p a b l e of f u l l reciprocity. Although the paradigm r i g h t s bearer remains a r a t i o n a l , moral agent, his or her interests are seen to be best served by granting moral standing to family and friends who do not meet the paradigm. Because subsequent discussion focusses moral humanism, to the  almost entirely on generous  exclusion of s t r i c t  moral humanism, I shall  continue to refer simply to 'moral humanism' except where the  context  makes clarification necessary. But Would It Work?  Despite the greater generosity of Melden's moral humanism, one may s t i l l wonder i f his moral community could ever entail r i g h t s for  an  unwanted infant or old person, or for those who are so mentally or emotionally impoverished as to be apparently incapable of any k i n d of partnership. My sense i s that i t could. If caring and compassion  are  among the goods which a moral community pursues, then the recipients of care and compassion could, i n an extended  Chapter Three  sense, be  considered  50  partners i n p u r s u i t of that good. A n example of t h i s k i n d of reasoning is provided by the Himalayan Buddhists who view a less able relative as an opportunity for, and a partner i n , moral development. A n d given t h i s gloss on Melden, his c r i t e r i o n of moral standing may finally  be  summarised as follows: Melden's CRITERION of moral standing: Human beings (and, i t appears, only human beings) have moral standing when they are either reciprocating members of a moral community or t i e d to r e c i p r o c a t i n g members by the bonds of love or compassion. PUSHING AT THE BOUNDARIES Definitively Rejecting Strict Moral Humanism  Melden has a r r i v e d at t h i s relatively generous criterion of moral s t a n d i n g because he i s h a p p y to accommodate r e c e i v e d  morality's  c o n c e r n for c h i l d r e n a n d other n o n - a g e n t s ; h o w e v e r , t h e r e i s t h e theoretical  alternative  of t r y i n g t o r e h a b i l i t a t e  strict  moral  humanism. This possibility should be laid to rest, now, so that s t r i c t moral humanism cannot haunt future  discussion. And the grounds for  doing so are to hand: s t r i c t moral humanism fails to offer an adequate basis for communal l i v i n g . Human adults generally have a h i g h regard for the safety and wellbeing of their loved ones, and they association  are  unlikely to enter into  which puts dependant f r i e n d s  or  relatives  at  T h e r e f o r e , j u s t as a g u a r a n t e e of r e l a t i v e p e r s o n a l s a f e t y  an  risk. is  an  important prerequisite of communal life, so t h i s guarantee must extend to c h i l d r e n and others who are incapable of moral agency. But s t r i c t moral humanism i s unable to f u r n i s h t h i s guarantee by the usual means of extending moral protection to them. The alternative i s to hope that children and the intellectually impaired will be adequately  Chapter Three  protected  51  because t h e y  w i l l be t r e a t e d  well o u t of r e g a r d  for other  moral  agents. T h i s i s analogous to the e a r l i e r example of my C a r t e s i a n neighbour treating my cat well out of r e g a r d for me: now i t i s my c h i l d and my idiot brother who are supposed to be adequately protected because they are my wards. But t h i s protection-by-proxy i s inadequate. Personal regard i s variable and fickle, and i t i s poor surety for the safety of one's c h i l d . What happens i f one dies? Will my dependants be allowed to slip t h r o u g h the communal net because I am no longer there as guarantor? Given the depth of the concern most parents have for the well-being of t h e i r c h i l d r e n , only the protection of moral standing i s going to be thought sufficient. As a f i n a l r e a s o n  for t h i n k i n g that morality should  fully  enfranchise the dependants of moral agents — and a l l non-paradigm humans i n general — note that an increased perception of security tends to improve human well-being and that granting moral standing to c h i l d r e n and impaired adults i s a relatively easy e v e r y o n e ' s sense of s e c u r i t y . T h i s i s b e c a u s e  way of enhancing d o i n g so n o t  only  a s s u r e s moral agents t h a t t h e i r r e l a t i v e s e n j o y t h e same k i n d of p r o t e c t i o n as t h e m s e l v e s , i t also h e l p s t o make t h e p o s s e s s i o n o f humanity  a  special  attribute  which  automatically  elicits  consideration. A Momentum F o r Expansion  G i v e n t h a t i t i s so i m p o r t a n t f o r m o r a l i t y to e n f r a n c h i s e  all  humans, whether they are paradigm moral agents or not, i t may be wondered whether Melden's own c r i t e r i o n of moral standing i s quite up to the job. After a l l , non-agents  only have a 'second-hand' claim to  consideration grounded i n the interests of fully fledged moral agents.  Chapter Three  52  However, I see Melden's position differently. On a generous reading of t h e human c a p a c i t y f o r l o v e a n d c o m p a s s i o n , M e l d e n ' s n o t i o n of 'community' i s r i c h e n o u g h to i n v o l v e j u s t  about  a l l humans  —  probably even the psychopaths whom he t h i n k s exclude themselves — and i t i s strong enough to do so securely. As I see i t , Melden's problem is r e s i s t i n g the momentum for further  generosity  which his c r i t e r i o n  generates. Melden's Specifisism  To take  a f i r s t instance,  why i s Melden so sure that  rational  nonhumans — should there be any — fall outside the moral umbrella? In the terms of a standard response to so-called 'speciesism': ^ 1  Suppose that a being utterly unlike any form of life yet encountered flies i n from space. We find evidence of intellect, something akin to emotion, and an ability to plan. Should we not grant the space-being moral status? Rational  humanists  and  c r i t i c s opposed  to  humanism  generally  will  concur i n endorsing a positive answer. But Melden appears to challenge t h i s alliance when he claims that unless the space-being i s like us i n "the considerations which move her to act", we would be unable to make her a member of our moral community or treat her like a human b e i n g . To someone persuaded  1 1  of the moral significance of either rationality  or  a capacity for suffering, t h i s will appear beside the point: i f i t  is  within our  extend  power to affect  c o n s i d e r a t i o n to  her  the  space-being, then  whether  or  not  she  morality can  must  join  our  'community'. Does Melden really wish to deny that the space-being i s considerable? Space Beings And Angels  The answer seems to be that Melden does. He explicitly, i f i l l -  Chapter Three  53  advisedly, recognises that his own c r i t e r i o n of moral standing i s more restrictive than  t h a t of r a t i o n a l h u m a n i s m ' s  paradigm  exponent  sure that there i s a lot of  difference  12 Immanuel Kant.  I am not  between Melden and Kant i n t h i s r e g a r d , but Melden's t h i n k i n g there i s helps  locate  his own position. Melden apparently  distances  himself  from Kant on the ground that i f a rational space being — or  more  likely an angel — had alighted at Konigsberg, Kant would have had no d i f f i c u l t y a c c e p t i n g her moral s t a t u s . Her r a t i o n a l i t y w o u l d  have  equipped her to, "act only according to the maxim whereby you can at 13 the same time will that i t should become a universal law."  A n d , for  Kant, this makes something a member of the kingdom of ends and secures i t s moral standing. What Melden appears to be overlooking i s that Kant viewed r a t i o n a l a n d moral a g e n c y  as i n s e p a r a b l e ,  and  so  Kant's  rational angel i s a reciprocating moral agent, j u s t as Melden demands. Neither Kant nor Melden seem to conceive of a moral relationship with 14 a rational being who does not have concerns i n common with us. A Fundamental Difference Here,  we come t o t h e  start  of o n e  of t h o s e  disagreements I mentioned i n Part One. Because the  fundamental sole theoretical  basis of Melden's humanism i s promoting the welfare of a community of r e c i p r o c a t i n g moral a g e n t s a n d t h e i r w a r d s , he f i n d s no reason  to e n f r a n c h i s e  a rational being  possible  who s t a n d s o u t s i d e  that  community. By contrast, c r i t i c s who take a broader view will wish to argue that because compassion and, perhaps, a respect for the dignity of s e l f - d i r e c t i n g b e i n g s are a l r e a d y morality,  consistency  T h i s disagreement Chapter Three  demands  p a r t a n d p a r c e l of r e c e i v e d  enfranchising  a l l rational  creatures.  has a form w h i c h w i l l s h a p e much of t h e  next 54  chapter,  where I shall present  sentient,  rather  than  sentientism's  rational, nonhumans.  case for  On the  enfranchising  one  hand, moral  humanism i n s i s t s t h a t morality i s s t r i c t l y c i r c u m s c r i b e d b y  its  concern for human welfare. On the other hand, expansionists argue that consistency must force the moral umbrella further  open. For now, I  will merely go on record as finding i t odd, and seemingly a r b i t r a r y , to i n s i s t that another rational creature could have no claim at a l l on our moral concern. It seems to me received morality i s more flexible and catholic than that, and I shall eventually offer reasons why that should be so. Nonhuman Companions But, however the space-being issue i s decided, Earth appears to house no creatures whose rational capacity approaches that of humans; 15 therefore, the outcome i s only of theoretical interest.  By contrast,  Melden's view of mundane nonhumans i s of real practical concern: why is Melden so sure that only humans have r i g h t s ? If the answer i s yet a further  claim that humans have peculiarly i n t e r l o c k i n g interests,  we  need a fuller explanation of what those interests are. A n d i f part of that explanation i s the deep love and concern moral agents have for other humans then, on those qualify.  Furthermore, i f the  grounds,  many nonhuman  explanation cites  companions  how humans  are  our  'partners i n moral development' (as was discussed when the status of intellectually impaired humans was at issue), i t i s also reasonable  to  claim nonhuman companions as partners and considerable beings. Even though nonhumans  do not develop morally themselves, they enjoy a  similar role to severely challenged humans who are judged to be our moral partners; for example, the cat Chapter Three  whom I used to introduce 55  the  initial question was a partner i n my own moral development, as were the nonhuman friends of childhood. Granting the need for consistency i n d i s t i n g u i s h i n g c o n s i d e r a b l e from i n c o n s i d e r a b l e e n t i t i e s , t h e s e l i n e s of t h o u g h t enfranchise  suggest  that generous  moral humanism s h o u l d  companion nonhumans, and shun a r e s t r i c t i o n which  is  beginning to appear an a r b i t r a r y preference for our own species. And Sheepdogs There is a further  reason s t i l l for  thinking  that Melden's  'community' should extend to (at least some) nonhuman companions. As mentioned above, Melden never specifies the precise interests promoted by a moral community; i n the absence of a l i s t , let us agree  that  morality serves to promote a communal way of life which i s generally advantageous to members, enabling them to better satisfy t h e i r needs. I shall argue that this provides reason to e n f r a n c h i s e  working  sheepdogs (at the least). Without his Border-Collie, a Scottish, Welsh, or Cumbrian shepherd cannot tend the flock. This i s not j u s t a matter of convenience: i t would be almost impossible for unaided humans to h e r d sheep those hills. A n d without his shepherd, the  across  dog must either live a  harder life as a s t r a y , or a feral dog, or a less satisfying life as a pet. The benefits of partnership are mutual. What i s more, human and dog integrate t h e i r behaviour so thoroughly, and t h e i r interests  are  so enmeshed, that i t makes more sense to t h i n k of dogs as members of a hill-farming community than as a mere adjunct to i t , a k i n d of tool. In which case, sheepdogs are morally considerable according to  the  basis of Melden's criterion. ** 1  Humanists may want to block t h i s argument. Can they do so by  Chapter Three  56  i n s i s t i n g that members of a moral community be able to recognise their r i g h t s a n d o b l i g a t i o n s ? No, because t h a t i n s i s t e n c e w o u l d e x c l u d e those n o n p a r a d i g m humans  whom M e l d e n has  accommodate.  i f we t a k e  I n any  case,  w o r k e d so h a r d  behavioural rather  to  than  linguistic competence as a guide to community membership, observation suggests that working dogs make a good showing. Can the argument be blocked by i n s i s t i n g that there i s no reason why the shepherd cannot view and use the dog as a tool? The sheep will s t i l l get  herded, and the  problems arise i f we t r y  dog will s t i l l get fed and sheltered. to argue that the  dog need  But  only be of  instrumental significance to the shepherd. In the f i r s t place, the dog does appear to satisfy membership  (at least) those requirements  for community  which an intellectually impaired human satisfies.  If  the  intellectually impaired human i s to be made a community member, then the  rule that  we s h o u l d not  make  distinctions  where  relevant  differences do not exist indicates that the dog should be too. Second, it i s arguable that both shepherd and dog will miss out on some of the benefits of p a r t n e r s h i p i f the dog i s t r e a t e d i n s t r u m e n t a l l y : shepherd  the  will lose a potential friendship which i s rewarding i n itself  and waste an opportunity for moral growth, and the dog will lose the affection  which domesticated  dogs  are  so e a g e r f o r . T h i r d ,  finally, perhaps the sheep will not be so well herded. Like  and  humans,  dogs seem to do t h e i r best for those who appreciate and care for them i n themselves, rather than valuing them only as a means to an end. New-Model Humanism: A F i r s t Bulge In The Dam If my reading of Melden and my argument are accepted so far, then there i s a limited case to be made for extending the moral umbrella  Chapter Three  57  beyond moral humanism, to nonhuman companions and helpmeets, without denying moral humanism's premises. This i s an important f i n d i n g : i t means there i s reason for a consistent,  generous,  moral humanist  to  recognise the moral standing of at least some sentient nonhumans;  it  also means that such recognition can be achieved without rejecting the b a s i c g r o u n d i n g of moral humanism. G i v e n t h a t t h e r e i s a l s o b e g i n n i n g s of a case f o r moral humanism to e n f r a n c h i s e r a t i o n a l nonhumans,  the  possible  I propose r e c o g n i s i n g a s e p a r a t e v e r s i o n of  humanism which I shall call 'new-model humanism'. New-model humanism endorses Melden's premise that morality grounds i n the requirements of community, b u t i t also r e c o g n i s e s franchise  to  rational  nonhumans  a case for extending the and  to  colleagues. New-model humanism i s the  nonhuman  first  moral  companions  potential  and  bulge i n  the  traditional humanist bulwark against moral expansion. IS MELDEN REALLY A HUMANIST? The Initial Evidence G i v e n t h e p o t e n t i a l e l a s t i c i t y of M e l d e n ' s o w n g e n e r o u s m o r a l humanism, one i s led to wonder whether Melden really i s a humanist i n the sense of someone totally unwilling to extend to nonhumans.  moral consideration  L e t us c o n s i d e r t h e e v i d e n c e . To b e g i n  with,  the  majority of Melden's d i s c u s s i o n c e n t r e s o n a t t r i b u t i o n s of n a r r o w r i g h t s , and although  I have offered  reason  for t h i n k i n g that  (for  example) a sheepdog may warrant certain narrow r i g h t s , Melden would certainly disagree.  Those arguments which deal with the  genesis of  r i g h t s clearly show that Melden t h i n k s only humans fit subjects for 17 rights. not  However, when we seek Melden's explicit view of those who do  hold r i g h t s ,  Chapter Three  we find  a more generous story.  For example, 58  his  opening page warns us that beside moral r i g h t s , we must recognise: ...moral considerations to which the concept of a r i g h t d o e s n o t seem t o a p p l y at a l l : t h e r e q u i r e m e n t t h a t we help someone i n n e e d , t h e g e n e r o s i t y or k i n d n e s s we o u g h t t o e x t e n d to persons simply out of love and affection for them, and even the humane treatment we ought to give animals unable to fend for themselves. Obviously, Melden does not think the narrow r i g h t s story tells all there i s to know about morality, but he never explains the alternative t h e o r e t i c a l basis of t h e s e " c o n s i d e r a t i o n s " . A p o s s i b i l i t y t r u e to Melden's humanism i s t h a t t h e y are j u s t i f i a b l e i n d e p e n d e n t l y of r i g h t s - t h e o r y because they contribute so much to communal life and human welfare. B u t i f Melden t h i n k s t h i s , he h a s t h e  p r o b l e m of  reconciling n o n - r i g h t s - b a s e d obligations with r i g h t s - b a s e d obligations 19 when there i s a conflict, and that i s not an easy matter.  Another  possibility i s that, at least i n the case of "animals unable to fend for themselves", there are grounds for moral standing which do not quite add up to grounds for a narrow r i g h t s - a s c r i p t i o n . In the latter case, Melden may be edging towards a recognition of wider r i g h t s which are not grounded i n the exigencies of community. But, i n any case, he i s t a k i n g the view that we owe certain treatment to certain  sentient  b e i n g s because of p r o p e r t i e s t h e y e x h i b i t , a n d t h a t goes  beyond  standard moral humanism. U n f o r t u n a t e l y , M e l d e n ' s t e x t does n o t p r o v i d e t h e b a s i s f o r a definitive  answer to the  puzzle. For what i t i s  worth, my feeling  about h i s p o s i t i o n , based on a p r e v a i l i n g t o n e of c o m p a s s i o n a n d generousity which i s sometimes at odds with humanism's s t r i c t u r e s , i s that while his moral theory points Melden towards humanism, his moral sense leads i n the opposite direction. Chapter Three  59  Sumner's Reading But not everyone agrees. L . W. Sumner depicts Melden as a humanist of the f i r s t water. This i s because according to Sumner's own account of moral scope, moral standing i s inseparable from the r i g h t to life: "having (some) moral standing i s equivalent to having (some) r i g h t to 20 life."  T h u s , any c o n s i d e r a b l e e n t i t y n e c e s s a r i l y h a s a ( o r some)  r i g h t to life. If Melden i s linating r i g h t s to humans, then he must be limiting the r i g h t to life to humans, and — on Sumner's view of what moral consideration involves — he i s , thereby, denying moral standing to nonhumans. Two questions now arise: Is moral standing inseparable from  the  r i g h t to life?, and, Does Melden really wish to claim that nonhumans have no r i g h t to life at all? With respect to the f i r s t question, as explained i n Part One, anyone with hopes of c a r r y i n g moral expansion across the mattering-gap must be prepared to separate moral standing from r i g h t s per se, i f only because r i g h t s do not extend that Therefore, t h i s e n q u i r y cannot endorse  Sumner's r i g h t to life  far. claim  without a substantive argument to show that being a l i v i n g entity with a  w e l l - f o u n d e d claim to l i f e i s a n e c e s s a r y  c o n d i t i o n of m o r a l  consideration. Because that issue's proper provenance i s sentientism's attempt to halt moral expansion at the  mattering  gap, I shall  not  discuss i t here. What i s relevant here i s Melden's possible view of nonhuman claims to life. If he t h i n k s that some nonhumans may have a claim to life, that suggests he t h i n k s them considerable. However, Melden's text i s again unequal to the query. Although Melden does say that the demise 21 of a nonhuman may be hastened without compunction , this i s not the Chapter Three  60  same as s a y i n g t h a t we can l e g i t i m a t e l y k i l l a p e r f e c t l y nonhuman without need to show j u s t  healthy  c a u s e . I f t h i s seems to  be  splitting hairs, compare the clearly expressed view of John Passmore, who i s a possibly stronger,  but less subtle, candidate for the title  of 'contemporary humanist'. He not only wants to deny animals r i g h t s , he offers the traditional explanation that cruelty to animals i s wrong only because,  "callousness, an i n s e n s i b i l i t y to suffering, i s a moral 22  defect i n a human being". A Humanist Who Wavers, B u t Still A Humanist I conclude that there i s ambiguity i n Melden's view of nonhumans, and his intention to disenfranchise them does sometimes waver, but t h i s certainly does not make him a closet sentientist. h i s p o s s i b l e l a p s e s i n f a v o u r of s e n t i e n t  Leaving  aside  nonhumans, Melden i s a  t y p i c a l , contemporary humanist. Just like Passmore, he grounds moral r i g h t s i n a community of common interests,  and he explicitly limits  legitimate r i g h t s - b e a r e r s to human b e i n g s who h a v e i n t e r l o c k i n g 23 interests.  In any case, i t i s not a primary issue  whether  Melden  should be read as a humanist or a would-be humanist who transcends himself. The reason why i t i s difficult to be sure of Melden's precise p o s i t i o n are j u s t what make h i s e x p o s i t i o n of m o r a l h u m a n i s m so i n t e r e s t i n g : Melden's ambiguities a r i s e because  it is difficult  i n s i s t that the moral franchise should extend solely to humans  to  while  at the same time remaining open to the many sources of moral claims upon us. The tension between Melden's view that nonhumans lack the rights  which  e n t a i l moral s t a n d i n g  and  his equally  explicit  recognition that we ought to treat nonhumans humanely indicates the s t r a i n within generous moral humanism. Chapter Three  61  Two Senses Of 'Community' There i s one  further  point of  note  a r i s i n g from  Sumner's  discussion of Melden, and i t leads to a deeper understanding of what moral humanism involves. Sumner suggests that the notion of a 'moral community' i s itself inherently ambiguous: i t may be a community of those agents who are capable of recognising obligations, or i t may consist of a l l those to whom the agents have moral obligations. Melden begins by espousing the former view. However, as we have seen, he cannot get by for long with the narrow notion of community, and he slithers towards a broader definition as he grants r i g h t s to c h i l d r e n and adults incapable of agency. But Melden never quite moves as far as the second conception of community. Instead, he havers: Melden's moral community finally consists of a l l whose lives are connected  through  shared projects, the demands of r e c i p r o c i t y , or affection. This i s why I could claim earlier that consistency demands new model humanism. Humanism's Limited Momentum In c r i t i c i s i n g Melden, Sumner effectively asks why Melden does not start out from the potentially more generous notion of community and canvas other possible bases of obligation. But t h i s i s not really fair to Melden. A l t h o u g h he n e v e r a n s w e r s  Sumner d i r e c t l y , Melden's  position i s clear and has already been touched on. Melden treats i t as axiomatic that morality's mandate  i s limited to  what i s r e q u i r e d i n  order to promote the welfare of reciprocating human moral agents and t h e i r wards. Whether or not we agree with Melden, understanding t h i s aspect of his reasoning i s essential to understanding contemporary humanism. Not only does Melden's view of m o r a l i t y ' s p u r p o s e g e n e r a t e t h e m o r a l  Chapter Three  62  franchise  he endorses,  i t provides a p r i n c i p l e d way of Kmitinq  moral f r a n c h i s e . If my attempt to move h u m a n i s m t o w a r d s  the  greater  generousity has seemed to prepare the way for a full-scale slide into sentientism, then t h i s i s important to recognise. Moral humanism may resist expansion beyond new model humanism by i n v o k i n g morality's unique concern with the  welfare of reciprocating moral agents, and  those whose interests are bound up with the interests of moral agents; thus, denying admittance to a l l except the nonhuman companions and helpmeets discussed earlier. A c r i t i c of humanism  might i n t e r j e c t  claiming  that if  sheepdogs are to be granted moral standing then consistency  requires  enfranchising all other similarly sentient humanist  here,  creatures.  But a moral  who i s w i l l i n g to be s u f f i c i e n t l y h a r d - n o s e d  humanist position may reply that i t i s not sheepdogs  about  the  per se who are  being enfranchised, but rather nonhuman companions and  helpmeets.  C o n s i s t e n c y only r e q u i r e s e n f r a n c h i s i n g a l l o t h e r c o m p a n i o n s a n d 24 helpmeets.  E v e n i f (as Sumner  wants)  the  moral community is  u n d e r s t o o d as c o n s i s t i n g of a l l t h o s e to whom m o r a l a g e n t s  have  obligations, moral humanism s t i l l has p r i n c i p l e d grounds for resisting expansion. Moral humanism holds obligations legitimate only i f  they  ultimately contribute to the  it is  welfare of moral agents; therefore,  h a r d to make a case for c r e a t u r e s w h i c h a r e  neither  nonhuman  companions nor helpmeets. We may not like moral humanism, but i t i s a more c o h e r e n t and s e c u r e account of m o r a l s c o p e t h a n i t s c r i t i c s sometimes allow.  Chapter Three  63  GENETIC HUMANISM A Possibly Sufficient, B u t Not Necessary, Condition Moral humanism's separation of considerable from inconsiderable entities finally  grounds i n a psychological  difference:  nonhumans  disenfranchised because t h e i r  cognitive abilities  are  sentient fit  them so poorly for inclusion i n a human community. However, t h i s focus 25 on psychology i s not the only possible approach to humanism.  An  Aristotelian might seek separation based on some essential difference between humans and other creatures, and a more contemporary proponent can seek to claim that the  genetic difference  between  humans  and  nonhumans i s morally significant i n itself. Leaving religious notions aside, i t i s unclear  what might constitute the  essential  difference,  and a bare preference for our own species i s hard to square  with  i m p a r t i a l i t y . B u t some c o n s e r v a t i v e s i n t h e a b o r t i o n d e b a t e  have  lowered their sights from a full-fledged  account of moral scope i n  o r d e r to claim t h a t mere genetic h u m a n i t y i s s u f f i c i e n t to c o n f e r moral standing (is a sufficient condition for moral standing) even i f its absence does not necessarily preclude i t (genetic humanity i s not a n e c e s s a r y c o n d i t i o n f o r moral s t a n d i n g ) . T h i s c l a i m i s n o t o n l y i m p o r t a n t f o r the  morality of a b o r t i o n , i t o f f e r s  an  interesting  possible codicil to the i n i t i a l question. Noonan's Argument Good c u r r e n t examples of t h i s l i m i t e d g e n e t i c h u m a n i s m a r e s provided by John T. Noonan J r and Joseph F . Donceel. Reading Noonan i n 26 l i g h t of Donceel's loyal criticism yields the following argument: (1) Even the conceptus, once formed, carries the genetic plan of our species. (2) Given this genetic plan, the conceptus has a Chapter Three  64  high (roughly 4/5) probability of developing into a full fledged member of our species so long as i t remains safely i n utero. (3) If the conceptus i s so endowed and programmed, it i s to a l l moral intents and purposes a human being with a r i g h t to life. This argument  has two s t r i n g s . One s t r i n g plays the theme of  N  our  species': even the conceptus i s endowed with a human genetic code and so i s one of us. The other s t r i n g plays the theme of ^potentiality': the conceptus has a h i g h probability of being c a r r i e d t h r o u g h to b i r t h and eventually becoming a fully fledged human being. It will be best to treat these themes as distinct, separate arguments,  starting  with  potentiality. Potentiality One i n f l u e n t i a l c r i t i c i s m of the p o t e n t i a l i t y a r g u m e n t  runs  as  11 27 follows: *  ... i f A has r i g h t s only because he satisfies some condition P, i t doesn't follow that B_ has the same r i g h t s now because he could have property P_ at some time i n the f u t u r e . It o n l y f o l l o w s t h a t he w i l l have r i g h t s when he has P. He i s a potential bearer of r i g h t s , as he i s a p o t e n t i a l b e a r e r of P_. A potential president of the United States i s not on that account Commander-in-Chief. This objection involves crediting genetic humanism with an  argument  which can be summarised thus: A conceptus i s potentially human. A human has a r i g h t to l i f e . T h e r e f o r e a c o n c e p t u s , w h i c h i s p o t e n t i a l l y human, has a p o t e n t i a l r i g h t to l i f e . Therefore a conceptus has a r i g h t to life. But this i s logically obnoxious because the premise only supports conclusion that the fetus  the  has a potential r i g h t to life. To conclude  that a fetus has an actual r i g h t to life we must conflate a potential r i g h t with an actual r i g h t .  Chapter Three  65  A More Charitable Reading Is this logical aberration  really the  argument  genetic  humanism  seeks to offer? It seems unlikely. As E a r l Winkler has pointed genetic  humanism may be  more favourably  read  out,  as claiming that a  c o n c e p t u s ' s own p r e s e n t q u a l i t i e s — i n p a r t i c u l a r , t h e q u a l i t y of b e i n g p o t e n t i a l l y a r a t i o n a l b e i n g - - a r e s u f f i c i e n t to s e c u r e  its  28 present r i g h t to life: A clear-headed [abortion] conservative does not say that potential future moral personhood confers such p e r s o n h o o d now, b u t t h a t p r e s e n t p o t e n t i a l f o r future rationality and self-consciousness confers moral personhood now. Or, as Noonan puts i t , "the  possibility of human  wisdom" directly  29 grounds a present r i g h t to life. But although t h i s rescues genetic humanism from logical e r r o r , i t must s t i l l be explained how the  present r i g h t to life grounds i n a  "possibility". Noonan does not do this; however, there i s at least one possible explanation to hand. Noonan can be understood as holding the view that human wisdom i s a dispositional property which may be judged present even when not c u r r e n t l y manifested. It may then be argued that 30 human wisdom secures "moral personhood" even p r i o r to being evinced. The weakness of t h i s position i s that — even i f i s agreed that  the  dispositional property of human wisdom secures moral standing —we may question whether any organism should be credited with the until there is initial  evidence  property  of i t . A l t h o u g h d i s p o s i t i o n a l  properties are routinely granted sight unseen when there i s little or no possibility of doubt, not a l l human fetuses eventually demonstrate wisdom. Compare fetuses and human wisdom with the example of standard window glass: window glass will always shatter when s t r u c k Chapter Three  with a 66  metal hammer; therefore, there i s no problem a t t r i b u t i n g fragility  to  window glass. Fetuses do not always go on to evince human wisdom; therefore, t h e i r possession of the  dispositional property i s  Given that the burden of proof rests with Noonan and with  suspect. genetic  humanism i n general, i t seems most reasonable to take the common sense view and conclude that because a fetus i s c u r r e n t l y unable to evidence human wisdom, rationality, or self-consciousness, i t does not have a 31 r i g h t to life grounded i n any of those properties. The 'Our Species" Theme Is the argument that mere genetic endowment grounds the fetal r i g h t to life more persuasive? At the beginning of his article, Noonan r e p e a t s the t r a d i t i o n a l a s s e r t i o n t h a t w h a t e v e r i s b o r n of human 32 parents i s human, and, therefore, has a human's moral status.  But i t  must s t i l l be explained why mere biological humanity i s a sufficient ground for a r i g h t to life. Again, Noonan fails to do. Perhaps  his  view i s that because a fetus i s biologically human, i t i s already so 33 valuable that i t warrants a r i g h t to life.  However, i f t h i s i s the  basis of genetic humanism's case, much more needs to be said. Given the ease of production, and the super-abundance of the rational, selfc o n s c i o u s c r e a t u r e s i n t o whom h u m a n f e t u s e s  g r o w , i t i s h a r d to  understand why they should be so p r i z e d . Granted a fetus i s a natural wonder, and an object of awe and protectiveness, i t s t i l l does  not  follow that a fetus warrants a r i g h t to life. But perhaps my view of genetic humanism i s too secular. Although Noonan concentrates on arguments accessible to those who do not share h i s C h r i s t i a n f a i t h , Donceel l i n k s t h e r i g h t to l i f e to the uniting of a human fetus Chapter Three  ensoulment,  with a soul. This clearly theological 67  context may be the  only one within  which genetic humanism works  because Christianity does ground the claim that humans have uniquely high value i n the scheme of t h i n g s . However, i t i s not a basis which non-Christians need accept. Do Human Genes Warrant Some Moral Standing? It s t i l l remains possible that mere genetic humanity secures some consideration  for  a  fetus,  and  that,  in  itself,  would  be  34 interesting.  To make the case, i t must be a r g u e d t h a t  genetic  humanity provides reason to take a fetus into account for its own sake when decisions affect i t . This must apply even to v e r y early and there are only  two  ways to affect  an early fetus:  fetuses,  one i s to  t e r m i n a t e i t s development; the o t h e r i s to modify i t s  genetic  programme. Suppose that an unwanted early fetus (a conceptus) i s allowed to develop for a week or two, then destroyed without harm to i t s host. What wrong has been done? Despite the  wealth of literature dealing  with the abortion issue, there i s no readily discernible wrong, and c e r t a i n l y none t h a t i s a t t r i b u t a b l e t o a c o n c e p t u s ' s p o s s e s s i o n of 35 human genes.  Now, suppose that ways are found to modify conceptuses  so that they  grow into 'designer'  humans: factory  workers receive  scant curiosity and extra hands; policepersons have eyes about t h e i r heads l i k e s p i d e r s . If t h i s i s m o r a l l y w r o n g , a n d c e r t a i n l y modifications  are  'intuitively'  d i s t u r b i n g , then  the  mere  such  possession  of human genes cannot be what makes i t wrong. If a conceptus modified f o r p u r e l y experimental r e a s o n s , t h e n d e s t r o y e d  was  shortly  afterwards, the act would be morally equivalent to early abortion and acceptable. Thus, any wrongness inherent i n genetic manipulation must Chapter Three  68  have to do with c a r r y i n g the fetus to term and bearing a  modified  c h i l d . This suggests that modifying human genes per se i s not wrong; t h e l o c u s of offense i s the r e s u l t i n g p e r s o n , a n d , p e r h a p s ,  the  community they join. In sum, there i s no apparent reason why the mere posession of human genes secures moral standing.  Chapter Three  69  Chapter F o u r SENTIENTISM IN THE UTILITARIAN TRADITION  Historically, classical utilitarianism's emphasis  on t h e  moral  significance of pleasure and pain offers the f i r s t account of moral scope to r i v a l humanism. R i g h t a c t i o n s a r e i d e n t i f i e d w i t h  those  promoting pleasure, wrong actions are identified with those promoting p a i n , and, because the human capacity for pleasure and pain i s shared 1  by  many nonhumans, i t becomes possible to argue that consistency  r e q u i r e s t a k i n g nonhuman p l e a s u r e s a n d p a i n s i n t o a c c o u n t when choosing actions. As Jeremy Bentham says i n an oft-quoted  passage:  "The question i s not, Can they reason? nor Can they talk? but Can they 2 suffer?" 19th  However, although t h i s charitable perception dates to  century,  Bentham's a m b i t i o n t h a t , " t h e  c r e a t i o n may a c q u i r e those r i g h t s  rest  which never  of t h e  the  animal  could have  been  3  withholden from them but  by the  hand  of t y r a n n y " ,  sported  few  champions u n t i l the final quarter of the present c e n t u r y . It may be significant, or i t may be simply i r o n i c , but i t i s only now, j u s t vitalists  and  ecosophists  are  urging  much greater  expansion,  as  that  concern for nonhumans i s becoming respectable. The present chapter will ask how strong a case can c u r r e n t l y be made for following Bentham's l e a d a n d e n f r a n c h i s i n g r o u g h l y a l l creatures other  capable  of suffering, for  broadly  utilitarian reasons.  In  words, we shall be a s k i n g : Is sentience a sufficient condition  of moral standing? The question whether sentience i s also necessary for  moral standing, and, thus,  expansion across the discussion later. Chapter Four  mattering  whether sentientism i s able to gap,  will be reserved  for  block  separate 70  AN EVOLVING CRITERION The Capacity F o r Feeling Or Affect Although Bentham no longer lacks philosophical heirs, t h e i r talk now i s more of 'sentience' than ' s u f f e r i n g ' . That change warrants  an  explanation plus a recognition that academic philosophers do not  use  'sentience'  i n quite the  glosses sentience  d i c t i o n a r y s e n s e . Whereas t h e  as, "the  power of p e r c e p t i o n  0 . E . D.  by the  senses",  philosophy use i t to mean roughly 'the capacity for feeling, pleasure, and suffering'. For example, Peter Singer tells us that he i s :  4  . . . u s i n g t h e term [ s e n t i e n c e ] as a c o n v e n i e n t , i f not s t r i c t l y accurate, shorthand for the capacity to suffer or experience enjoyment or happiness... Singer wants one word to do the job of several, and 'sentience' i s to hand. In  L.  W.  Sumner's  later  discussion  of  sentience,  the  acknowledgement that the word i s a term of a r t has been dropped, and 5  the definition i s more extensive: Sentience i s the capacity for feeling or affect. In i t s most p r i m i t i v e f o r m i t i s t h e a b i l i t y t o e x p e r i e n c e s e n s a t i o n s of p l e a s u r e a n d p a i n , a n d t h u s the a b i l i t y to e n j o y o r s u f f e r . I t s more developed forms include wants, aims, and desires ( a n d t h u s t h e a b i l i t y t o be s a t i s f i e d a n d frustrated); attitudes, tastes, and values; and moods, emotions, sentiments and passions. Later, we shall find Sumner using t h i s extended definition to  support  his claim that sentience i s necessary for moral standing, but even i n advance of that, the broader definition offers clear advantages. Two Forms Of Sentience For sentience to be a useful c r i t e r i o n of moral standing, i t must be p o s s i b l e to decide which c r e a t u r e s a r e  sentient.  Is a  mouse  sentient? Singer's definition affords an unequivocal answer: because a Chapter Four  71  mouse can s u f f e r , i t i s s e n t i e n t .  But  what  about  more s i m p l e  organisms? Invertebrates, which are probably not capable of suffering in any conscious sense, s t i l l manufacture the n a t u r a l opiates associated with pleasure and pain. Are invertebrates sentient? It i s more difficult  to respond  with confidence, t h i s time, but  S u m n e r ' s f u l l e r d e f i n i t i o n of ' s e n t i e n c e ' a f f o r d s a p a r t i a l a n s w e r . ' P r i m i t i v e forms; of sentience makes p o s s i b l e b e n e f i t s a n d  harms  associated with agreeable or disagreeable sensations; and 'developed forms' of sentience make possible benefits and harms associated with satisfied or frustrated desires, wants, and (conscious) aims, and with the  possession of attitudes, tastes etc.  Psychologically  simple l i f e -  forms can only receive benefits and harms of the f i r s t sort, but more complex life-forms can increasingly receive benefits and harms of the second sort. As Sumner says, invertebrates are sentient i f they  are  capable of enjoying benefits or harms of at least the f i r s t sort: that g makes invertebrates sentient i f they have disagreeable sensations. A Very Similar Extension In practice, the dictionary's "power of perception by the senses" (or 'sensory awareness')  seems to be unfailingly  some c a p a c i t y f o r agreeable  allied to at  and d i s a g r e e a b l e s e n s a t i o n s .  least Thus,  'sentience' i n the dictionary sense extends to the same organisms as 'sentience'  i n the  analytic sense.  However,  understanding  contemporary sentientism i s going to require us to recognise i n what sense contemporary philosophers speak of 'sentience'. A Divided Movement Historically, sentientists differ i n the  way t h e y g r o u n d t h e i r  sentientism. Whereas Bentham wanted to make the simple capacity for Chapter Four  72  suffering  the  basis of moral concern, contemporary  more l i k e l y to r e f e r to the ' i n t e r e s t s '  sentientists  sentient creatures  are  have i n  v i r t u e of the capacities noted by Sumner. This difference between what I call 'hedonic' and 'interest-based'  sentientism can become b l u r r e d  when interest theorists stress the moral importance of suffering, but the  accounts are broadly distinct: hedonic sentientism i s concerned  solely with p l e a s u r e s a n d p a i n s w h i l e i n t e r e s t - b a s e d recognises  v a r i o u s k i n d s of i n t e r e s t s  associated  d e g r e e s a n d k i n d s of awareness. I n a d d i t i o n , some  sentientism  with  different  contemporary  sentientists also disagree deeply about both the theoretical basis and the precise extent of the moral franchise: there i s an on-going debate between  broadly utilitarian versions of sentientism  (particularly  as  they are championed by Singer) and Tom Regan's r i g h t s - b a s e d account (which seeks to ground consideration i n capacities roughly limited to the higher mammals). Given these several differences within sentientism, I am going to t r e a t hedonic s e n t i e n t i s m , i n t e r e s t - b a s e d  sentientism, and a t h i r d  ( r e l a t i v e l y n o n - p a r t i s a n , b u t s t i l l b r o a d l y ) u t i l i t a r i a n v e r s i o n of sentientism as related but distinct topics within the present  chapter.  Regan's quite separate form of sentientism will then be r e s e r v e d as a chapter topic i n itself. HEDONIC SENTIENTISM Bentham's Legacy In a famous review for the New York Review of Books, Singer takes on Bentham's mantle a n d offers t h e f o l l o w i n g c l e a r r e s t a t e m e n t of 9  classical utilitarian doctrine: I f a b e i n g s u f f e r s , t h e r e c a n b e no m o r a l j u s t i f i c a t i o n for r e f u s i n g to t a k e t h a t s u f f e r i n g Chapter Four  73  into consideration, and indeed, to count i t equally with the like suffering (if r o u g h comparisons can be made) of any other being. In his later writing, Singer embeds his compassionate heritage i n the more  sophisticated  rhetoric  of  preference  utilitarianism. But, for now, i t i s the unadorned  (or  'interests')  appeal to  suffering  I wish to consider. The Argument From Suffering Stated briefly, t h i s appeal to suffering provides an argument for moral e x p a n s i o n w h i c h r u n s as f o l l o w s : I f a l l human s u f f e r i n g morally significant — regardless  of the  presence  or absence of the  full range of normal human capacities — then consistency treating a l l comparable nonhuman  is  requires  suffering as significant, too. This  entails extending the moral franchise to a l l sentient  creatures. ^  It will be useful to 'unpack' t h i s summary a little, and  1  present  i t as an i n i t i a l three-step 'argument from suffering': -  Received morality holds human suffering to be bad i n itself, and i t  requires us to avoid causing avoidable human suffering. Moral agents are enjoined to take human suffering into account when deciding how to act. If  unnecessary  human s u f f e r i n g  is  morally repugnant,  then  consistency requires t a k i n g the same view of nonhuman suffering unless there i s a demonstrable, morally significant difference between  humans  and nonhumans. This difference must involve characteristics shared by humans of a l l ages and capacities. (This i s because the suffering of even the most emotionally and intellectually limited i s deemed morally important.) The only possibly relevant characteristics are a capacity to suffer and genetic humanity. Nonhumans suffer, too; therefore,  Chapter Four  74  any  morally significant difference between humans and nonhumans has to depend on the possession and absence distinguish between arbitrary  of genetic humanity. But to  humans and nonhumans on t h i s  preference.  basis alone i s  11  It i s , therefore, i r r a t i o n a l to treat human suffering as significant suffering  morally  while i g n o r i n g comparable nonhuman suffering. Nonhuman must be taken into account, too, and that makes  sentient  nonhumans morally considerable. Resisting The Argument From Suffering A c r i t i c has three options for r e s i s t i n g t h i s conclusion: she may claim that human and non-human suffering are not comparable, deny that received  morality views the  significant,  or attempt to  comparable suffering of a l l humans  display some morally  relevant  as  difference  between humans and nonhumans which the argument from suffering has overlooked. In discussion, I have heard the f i r s t option taken when i t i s said that because sentient nonhumans lack human levels of self-awareness, they  cannot suffer  as  we do. However, received morality holds a l l  human suffering important, i n c l u d i n g the suffering of those humans who lack normal self-awareness. Such suffering has more i n common with nonhuman suffering than with the value-added pain of intensely selfaware, human suffering, and i f i t matters i n humans, reason must be 12 shown why i t fails to be morally important i n nonhumans. In s u p p o r t of t h e second o p t i o n , a c r i t i c  might claim  (with  Melden) that received morality assigns vanishingly small significance to the suffering of sociopaths and others outside the moral community because they do not reciprocate obligations or friendly treatment. But Chapter Four  75  t h i s i s false. For example, t o r t u r i n g a psychopath for amusement would generally be held wrong, and at least part of the reason why i t would be thought wrong i s that i t inflicts needless pain. What i s probably correct i s that received morality does not weigh the suffering of a l l humans e q u a l l y . B u t , remember, t h e i n i t i a l q u e s t i o n i s n o t r e l a t i v e d e g r e e s of moral s i g n i f i c a n c e ; i t j u s t a s k s  which  about things  w a r r a n t some c o n s i d e r a t i o n . R e c e i v e d m o r a l i t y does a c c o r d  some  c o n s i d e r a t i o n to a l l humans a n d some s i g n i f i c a n c e t o a l l h u m a n suffering. The  t h i r d option requires a c r i t i c to d i s p l a y an o v e r l o o k e d  difference between humans and nonhumans which justifies denying moral significance to nonhuman suffering. Given that aU humans must be on the  winning side of t h i s distinction, what I earlier called  moral humanism offers a c r i t e r i o n of m o r a l s t a n d i n g  generous  which i s an  obvious choice: a l l humans are members of, or have interests interpenetrate  which  with humans who are members of, a reciprocating moral  community. The question, now, i s whether hedonic sentientism has the resources to reject t h i s fundamental assertion. Moral Humanism Digs Its Heels I n On the humanist s i d e , i t will be a r g u e d  (as d e s c r i b e d i n t h e  previous chapter) that morality's j u s t i f y i n g  p u r p o s e , as a s o c i a l  institution, i s the protection and welfare of the community of moral agents. T h i s mandate i s s a i d b o t h t o g e n e r a t e a m o r a l f r a n c h i s e extending to a l l humans and limit that franchise to humans. I have argued that there i s reason for humanism to go further and enfranchise many domestic, sentient nonhumans as well, but because that will be t h o u g h t c o n t r o v e r s i a l b y many h u m a n i s t s , l e t u s l i m i t d i s c u s s i o n  Chapter Four  76  initially to the moral humanism which balks at a moral franchise  any  larger than humanity. Hedonic sentientism may respond, i n i t i a l l y , by u r g i n g humanists to follow the logic of t h e i r own desideratum. Just as i t i s  advantageous  for a moral community to view a l l avoidable human suffering as e v i l , so a community which extends  t h i s attitude  to avoidable  nonhuman  suffering will tend to be generally more compassionate and afford i t s human  members  greater  security.  This accords  well  with  moral  humanism's informing concern for human welfare and offers reason why humanists  should not resist the  assertion  that  nonhuman  suffering  matters for i t s own sake. But t h i s argument i s certainly not conclusive. Humanism may reply that i t underestimates our capacity for marking moral distinctions and t h a t adequate c o n c e r n f o r human s u f f e r i n g i s a c h i e v a b l e  without  enfranchising nonhumans. At t h i s stage, the issue becomes primarily empirical and h a r d to resolve. However, i t i s important to point out to humanists that moral humanism has already displayed a mistrust of such distinctions by extending consideration to humans who are neither moral a g e n t s n o r close a s s o c i a t e s , enhances t h e  security and  on t h e  g r o u n d s t h a t d o i n g so  w e l l - b e i n g of a l l . I f t h e  distinction  between considerable and inconsiderable humans i s unsafe, why should we not mistrust the  consequences  of t r y i n g to d i s t i n g u i s h  between  considerable and inconsiderable suffering? Someone who can ignore a tormented  cat i s not a p e r s o n  I  would  entrust  my w e l f a r e  to:  c a l l o u s n e s s to s u f f e r i n g i s c a l l o u s n e s s t o s u f f e r i n g w h e r e v e r  the  suffering occurs.  Chapter Four  77  A Possibility To Note S e n t i e n t i s t s may also wish to a p p e a l to more s u b t l e a c c r u i n g from moral e x p a n s i o n , s u c h as t h e e f f e c t s  benefits  of a b r o a d l y  compassionate outlook on the person holding i t . But t h i s must be done carefully.  Although the i l l effects  of c r u e l t y on the  r e s p o n s i b l e f o r i t have t r a d i t i o n a l l y f u r n i s h e d  reason  person to  avoid  unnecessary nonhuman suffering, citing t h i s reason alone undercuts the case for moral e x p a n s i o n . T h i s i s b e c a u s e  an e n t i t y  with  moral  standing i s one which must be taken into account for the entity's own sake, and i f nonhuman suffering i s deemed significant only because of the consequences for the agent, then nonhumans are not being taken 13 into account for t h e i r own sakes.  What i s necessary i s to argue that  because of t h e b r o a d a d v a n t a g e s of a n e x p a n d e d m o r a l f r a n c h i s e , nonhumans should be granted consideration i n themselves. This i s a form of argument I wish to set aside for later exploration because standard apologia for hedonic sentientism do not offer i t . Two Different Conceptions Of Morality E v e r y t h i n g now b e i n g s a i d on b e h a l f of s e n t i e n t i s m c i t e s  the  benefits of moral expansion, and that i s significant. In Part One, i t was noted that disagreement over the initial question soon resolves i n t o a debate about d i f f e r e n t axiomatic c o n c e p t i o n s of m o r a l i t y ' s informing  purpose  advertising the  and aims, at  which time expansionists resort  relative attractions  of t h e i r  wares. This i s  to  what I  have j u s t been attempting to do on behalf of hedonic sentientism, but, 14 so far, the case i s less than overwhelming. humanism s t i l l views morality primarily  as  On the one hand, moral a foundation for  human  community, and concludes, on that basis, that nonhumans largely lack Chapter Four  78  moral standing. On the other hand, hedonic sentientism views morality p r i m a r i l y as an i n s t i t u t i o n c o n c e r n e d w i t h p l e a s u r e a n d  suffering  however they are embodied. Once t h i s basic issue i s recognised, sentientism may attempt to gain some leverage by making a concession. It can be admitted that classical utilitarianism probably the  offers  too simplistic an  moral perspective i n its entirety  utilitarianism's insistence  that  while s t i l l  suffering  is  account of  championing  morally  significant  wherever i t occurs. For many of us, the moral significance of pain i s as axiomatic as humanism's explanation of morality's mandate, and we can  claim a fair degree of support from c u r r e n t  moral practice. But  how  shall we answer a convinced humanist who g r u d g i n g l y sanctions  moral expansion only so long as i t unquestionably benefits humans, and views new model humanism as the maximum possible compromise? Classical utilitarianism  provides  no f u r t h e r  response  beyond  the  simple  insistence that moral humanism misunderstands the nature of morality. Humanists  will say t h e  same of c l a s s i c a l u t i l i t a r i a n i s m , a n d  so  dialogue reaches deadlock. In order to continue the debate, sentientism can engage humanism directly over the question of morality's mandate, attempt to develop a version of the argument from suffering which will overcome humanist opposition, or, perhaps, do both. Let us begin with the second option and Singer's r e v i s i o n of the argument from suffering. INTEREST-BASED SENTIENTISM Interests, Preferences, A n d Desires Singer's later,  more developed, response  version of what he calls 'preference  Chapter Four  to humanism utilises a  utilitarianism', and  we need  79  an  u n d e r s t a n d i n g of what t h i s moral t h e o r y i n v o l v e s . S h u n n i n g t h e classical  reference  to  pleasure  and  happiness,  Singer's  preference  utilitarianism variously defines r i g h t actions as those which maximise preference or interest s a t i s f a c t i o n .  1 5  S i n g e r does n o t  explicitly  describe a relationship between preferences and interests (perhaps he finds i t obvious), but he does treat preference as a component of interests and as a reliable guide to interests. Given the  subsequent  focus on g r a n t i n g e q u i v a l e n t i n t e r e s t s e q u a l m o r a l i m p o r t a n c e , i t seems t h a t , d e s p i t e i t s name, S i n g e r ' s p r e f e r e n c e u t i l i t a r i a n i s m i s primarily  c o n c e r n e d with i n t e r e s t s ;  preferences  are  significant  because they are indicative of interests. Singer also recognises desire as a component of interests, ** and 1  his usual practice i s to ignore the one when writing of the  other.  This suggests that they are often interchangable, and at least one c r i t i c , Regan, takes i n t e r c h a n g a b i l i t y a step f u r t h e r , d e s c r i b i n g S i n g e r ' s u t i l i t a r i a n i s m as the t h e o r y t h a t r i g h t a c t i o n s a r e whose c o n s e q u e n c e s  "further  the  interests  (i.e.,  those  desires  or  17 preferences)  of t h o s e  affected".  Regan's  paranthetical  gloss  suggests that desires and preferences are equivalent to interests for Singer's purposes, but t h i s does Singer a disservice. Preference and desire do not always coincide with interests because a creature may have interests which are not being clearly evinced t h r o u g h preference or d e s i r e . F o r example, alcoholic h u m a n s f r e q u e n t l y i g n o r e  food  despite being malnourished. A n d , as the same example i l l u s t r a t e s , an organism may also have interests contrary to preference or desire. In consequence, maximising interest  satisfaction may sometimes 18 i g n o r i n g expressed preference and desire. Chapter Four  require  80  'Interests' Utilitarianism For a l l these reasons, I shall adopt the r e a d i n g of S i n g e r ' s ' p r e f e r e n c e '  following  definitive  u t i l i t a r i a n i s m w h i c h , on  obvious  grounds, might have been better called 'interests utilitarianism': Singer's UTILITARIANISM requires a moral agent to maximise the interest satisfaction of all creatures affected b y t h e a g e n t ' s a c t i o n s . P r e f e r e n c e a n d desire are a guide to interests, but they are not totally reliable. F o r completeness,  a t h o r o u g h e x p l a n a t i o n of what c o n s t i t u t e s  an  ' i n t e r e s t ' needs to accompany t h i s d e f i n i t i o n , b u t l e t us r e l y , f o r now, on o u r o r d i n a r y ( ' i n t u i t i v e ' ) u n d e r s t a n d i n g they  are a s c r i b e d to s e n t i e n t b e i n g s .  explicit explanation,  and  Singer  I shall discuss  of ' i n t e r e s t s '  as  does n o t o f f e r  the  an  contribution  of  sentientists who do i n a later chapter. The Principle Of Impartiality In practice, the bare injunction to maximise interest  satisfaction  benefits from an additional principle. To see why, suppose that I am out on my bike, and I meet two fellow c y c l i s t s who have ridden over glass, r u i n i n g a t y r e apiece. To whom should I give my one spare t y r e ? Clearly, I am required to donate my t y r e so as to maximise interest satisfaction. But suppose that one of the c y c l i s t s i s a friend and  the  other i s unknown to me. My inclination would be to give the spare to my f r i e n d , but doing so may not maximise interest satisfaction i f the other c y c l i s t has urgent business. In situations  like this,  Singer  advocates a traditional  of impartiality r e q u i r i n g , "that we give equal deliberations  principle  weight i n our  to t h e l i k e i n t e r e s t s of a l l t h o s e a f f e c t e d  moral  by  our  19 actions."  He advises that a moral agent should imagine " l i v i n g  Chapter Four  81  the  l i v e s of a l l a f f e c t e d " by a d e c i s i o n t o a c t , d e t e r m i n e  what a c t i o n  "satisfies more preferences, adjusted according to the strength of the 20 and act accordingly. Alternatively, a moral agent may  preferences",  imagine h e r s e l f an i m p a r t i a l o b s e r v e r  equally concerned  for  the  21 interests of a l l affected.  None of t h i s allows me to follow  personal  inclination i n handing over my spare t y r e : I must give i t to whoever has the greatest interest i n continuing their journey. The Argument From Interest Supplemented  by  the  p r i n c i p l e of i m p a r t i a l i t y ,  Singer's  utilitarianism now supports a modified version of the earlier argument 22 -from suffering, which I call 'the argument from interest': -  A moral agent should seek to maximise interest satisfaction i n such  a way as to satisfy an impartial observer. that the observer necessary  --  will p a r t a k e e q u a l l y - - a n d s i m u l t a n e o u s l y , i f  of t h e  pleasures  frustrations, of a l l i n d i v i d u a l interest -  (It i s helpful to imagine  and  pains,  satisfactions  and  holders.)  In order to satisfy such an impartial observer, a moral agent must  take into account a l l significant interests affected assign equal weight to comparable  interests.  A moral agent must, therefore, nonhuman interests affected  by an action and  take account  by an action and  of any  weigh them  significant equitably  d u r i n g d e c i s i o n m a k i n g . Because a l l s e n t i e n t c r e a t u r e s h a v e , at a minimum, a s i g n i f i c a n t i n t e r e s t i n a v o i d i n g s u f f e r i n g , a l l s e n t i e n t creatures have an interest to take account of and weigh. They are, therefore, quite clearly morally considerable.  Chapter Four  82  C a r r y i n g The Debate Back To Humanism Granted the impartiality p r i n c i p l e w h i c h t h i s a r g u m e n t s t a r t s with, the conclusion i s inescapable, and a humanist morality  requires  the  impartial  must deny  maximisation  of  that  interest  23 satisfaction.  F o r s u p p o r t , moral h u m a n i s m c a n a g a i n t u r n t o i t s  understanding of morality's mandate which — consistent with the new focus on interests — may be described as promoting the interests of reciprocating members of the moral community and, by extension, interests of a l l non-reciprocating  members.  mandate will almost certainly entail some  Although satisfying  the this  degree of impartiality on  the part of moral agents, i t i s an open question how large a degree. Thus, the  disagreement  between  moral humanism and  interest-based  sentientism seems to come down to the question whether moral agents must act so as to satisfy an impartial observer, or need only satisfy some humbler c r i t e r i o n of impartiality. Impartiality: A Problematic Ideal In practice, most of us r e g u l a r l y fail to take a fully account  of a l l the  interests affected  by our  earlier, i f I met two c y c l i s t s who needed  actions.  impartial  As described  my spare t y r e , my natural  inclination would be to give i t to the one who was my f r i e n d . A n d i n a more s e r i o u s s i t u a t i o n , with more t h a n  a b i k e r i d e at s t a k e ,  my  inclination to prefer my friend would be stronger. Singer discusses t h i s problem at length. His stance i s similar to that of William Godwin, theorist  whom he offers  as  an example of a  moral  committed to impartiality. Godwin asserted that impartiality  i s r e q u i r e d of us i n a l l c i r c u m s t a n c e s , e v e n i f t h a t s h o u l d  mean  leaving one's father  (more  Chapter Four  to die i n a fire i n order to rescue his  83  socially useful)  employer.  Godwin  was bitterly condemned  for  claim, but, although he eventually decided that rescuing one's  this father  may not be blameworthy, he never retracted the logic of his position. Although Singer presents anthropological and 'rule-benefit' reasons to explain why everyday morality should accept that moral agents will be 25 b i a s e d t o w a r d s family a n d f r i e n d s , i n s i s t that r e f e r r i n g  l i k e G o d w i n , he c o n t i n u e s  moral decisions to an impartial observer i s  to the  26 way to set the standard for r i g h t action.  My understanding  i s that  Singer t h i n k s 'human nature', and the psychological difficulties which would ensue i f moral a g e n t s a t t e m p t e d a t o t a l l y i m p a r t i a l v i e w of interests,  entail  maximised  by  that,  in  practice,  allowing certain  kinds  interest of  satisfaction  preferential  is  treatment.  However, he t h i n k s t h a t i f we c o u l d r e l y on m o r a l a g e n t s t o  be  consistently impartial, then that would yield a better result. The Depth Of The Problem I know of no way to decide whether the latter claim i s t r u e , but I do  anticipate  impartiality  serious  problems  a moral d e s i d e r a t u m .  as  a result  To b e g i n  of  with,  making  total  note t h a t  the  preferential treatment of close associates i s likely to remain part of received moral practice whatever moral ideals we espouse. Thus, there will be a permanent discrepancy between received moral practice and the ideal of impartiality. This places conscientious moral agents i n a difficult  position:  expectations  whereas  of preferential  common  moral  practice  involves  treatment, ideal morality gainsays  those  expectations. In effect, the conscientious moral agent faces a double  standard.  E v e n i f the t o t a l l y i m p a r t i a l view i s , s t r i c t l y s p e a k i n g , t h e  right  Chapter Four  84  one to adopt, recognising special obligations to close associates r u n s deep (as Singer acknowledges), and v i r t u e ' s glow will hardly ease the conflict and pain consequent  on t r y i n g to ignore them. In justice to  Singer, I t h i n k i t i s precisely his awareness of t h i s problem which makes him willing to lower his expectations, but lowered  expectations  do not solve the problem. Suppose that, i n an attempt to avoid impossible conflict without abandoning  the  impartiality  requirement  altogether,  strict  impartiality i s downgraded from a moral ideal (something which we are enjoined to realise) to a theoretical moral starting  point. Divergence  from impartiality will always require justification — either i n terms of interest  satisfaction, or as a necessary  concession to traditional  practice and 'human nature' — but, once justified, divergence  will  27 c a r r y no stigma.  No o b v i o u s d o u b l e  standard  w i l l be  created;  however, so long as complete impartiality remains even a theoretical point of departure, i t will follow that, were we capable of l i v i n g by the impartial view, doing so  would be best. In consequence,  moral  theory will convey the negative message that humans are too flawed to live by a fully  rational morality. Although some religious traditions  may seem to have been built around t h i s belief, i t i s not a useful or productive one, conveying, as i t does, a negative assessment of our own abilities. We need a moral outlook more concurrent with a positive understanding of whom and what we are. Weakening The P r i n c i p l e The impartiality requirement can be weakened further, and a more positive view of our moral nature emphasised, by abandoning the ideal of  an impartial observer  Chapter Four  i n favour  of an 'honest representative 85  of  usual moral practice'. Parts of Singer's discussion lend themselves to j u s t t h i s development. Using an evolutionary argument to explain why impartiality  has  become a feature  of moral decision making, Singer  suggests that morality traditionally involves j u s t i f y i n g  decisions and  c o n d u c t to one's n e i g h b o u r s , a n d he a r g u e s t h a t s a t i s f y i n g  those  n e i g h b o u r s will f r e q u e n t l y r e q u i r e t a k i n g a d i s i n t e r e s t e d v i e w of interests. Singer then suggests that thoughtful moral neighbours will o n l y be f u l l y s a t i s f i e d i f d e c i s i o n s a n d c o n d u c t w o u l d s a t i s f y  an  28 impartial observer. But our  why suppose this? It i s at least equally reasonable to think  neighbours  will  be  satisfied  by  d i s i n t e r e s t e d e n o u g h to promote t h e  a  moral outlook  general  welfare  which while  p e r m i t t i n g e v e r y o n e to e x e r c i s e t r a d i t i o n a l p r e f e r e n c e s associates.  In this  case,  instead  morality only needs that standard  is  still  for close  of i m p a r t i a l o b s e r v e r  theory,  of impartiality which i s generally  r e q u i r e d within the moral community and which may be summed up i n the 29 ideal of a thoughtful, honest moral practitioner. Back To The Fundamental Issue If impartial observer theory i s rejected, or even i f i t i s reduced to a t h e o r e t i c a l s t a r t i n g  point, t h e n  what f o l l o w s  is a  serious  weakening of the argument from interest. Instead of appealing to an i d e a l of complete i m p a r t i a l i t y to e x p l a i n t h e m o r a l s i g n i f i c a n c e of nonhuman interests, sentientism must offer reasons for r e q u i r i n g that moral agents view aU comparable interests with enough impartiality to justify  moral e x p a n s i o n . G i v e n t h a t  moral humanism's i n f o r m i n g  conception of morality implicitly denies that s u c h a view i s morally r e q u i r e d , moral humanism and utilitarian sentientism are again faced Chapter Four  86  with a need to a d d r e s s t h e i r d i f f e r i n g enterprise.  c o n c e p t i o n s of t h e  These c o n c e p t i o n s u n d e r p i n t h e  moral  disagreement  about  impartiality and cannot be subordinated to i t for long. F u r t h e r m o r e , e v e n i f we do p e r s o n a l l y e n d o r s e impartiality requirement, there i s s t i l l  a major  Singer's  full  disagreement  to  address: a humanist like Melden remains free to assert that neither concern for nonhuman interests, nor an impartiality principle extends to nonhumans,  have any  morality. Settling the issue what 'the  part i n humanism's conception of  will then  moral point of view'  which  require us to determine  does demand of us i n the  impartiality. A n d , as the above discussion indicates, there i s  just  way of pretty  fundamental disagreement about that. In other words, the root problem, here, i s not going to go away. It bears summarising and restating: the disagreement about impartiality i s unlikely to be settled  without, i n  some way, settling a more general and fundamental disagreement over the nature of the moral enterprise. Two important consequences now follow from t h i s . F i r s t , p u r s u i n g the problem of impartiality per se i s unlikely to shed l i g h t on the initial  question. In order  to  d e v e l o p a more  solid  case  for  sentientism, we must discuss morality's mandate. Second, the argument from i n t e r e s t ,  which t a k e s  the  principle  of i m p a r t i a l i t y as  its  i n i t i a l premise, r i s k s b e g g i n g t h e i n i t i a l q u e s t i o n b y a s s u m i n g a n account of morality which entails a particular answer. This  further  reduces the credence we should place i n the argument from interest.  Chapter Four  87  SOFT (NON-PARTISAN) SENTIENTISM Singer's Rapprochement Although  Singer  never  explicitly  humanism as being about the purpose  identifies  his  difference  with  of morality, his writing does  contain a version of the argument from suffering  which attempts to 30  bridge the gap between the two different conceptions.  Singer begins  by acknowledging that the original purpose of morality probably limited to securing mutual benefits for human agents. But he  was  urges  that the habits of moral thought which a moral community encourages will, over time, make i t increasingly difficult for rational agents to accept a moral franchise  exclusive to humans. His argument to  this  effect forms what I call the 'argument from rational generosity': Moral agents are comparable  required  to take a largely impartial view of  human interests except i n certain  special  circumstances.  (As d i s c u s s e d above, S i n g e r t h i n k s t h a t a t o t a l l y i m p a r t i a l m o r a l perspective i s the moral ideal, or point of departure, with allowable deviations. But the requirement  could equally well be to satisfy  the  ideal of the honest moral practitioner.) Moral impartiality i s , i n part, guarded consistency.  Rational consistency  by a concern for rational account  of  like human and nonhuman interests unless there i s good reason  to  d i s r e g a r d the nonhuman  requires  taking  equal  interests.  Nonhumans have a clear interest i n avoiding suffering. Given absence of any possible morally relevant difference between humans and nonhumans  other than their  impartiality and consistency  provide reason  genetic  the  suffering  differences,  to take account  of  the  nonhuman interest i n avoiding suffering. Therefore, sentient nonhumans Chapter Four  88  are morally considerable. Furthermore, i g n o r i n g nonhuman suffering and moral  standing  will,  with  near  inevitability, yield  'psychic  d i s s o n a n c e ' i n anyone s e n s i t i v e t o t h e n e e d f o r i m p a r t i a l i t y a n d consistency i n moral judgements. Singer's Strategy Singer's vocabulary for  strategy  is interesting.  of interests  and  A l t h o u g h he  employs  the  makes classical utilitarianism's concern  suffering the final ground for moral expansion, there i s nothing  i n the  argument  accept  i s that  which requires  us to be utilitarians. A l l we need  suffering, impartiality, and  rational consistency  are  i m p o r t a n t i n moral r e a s o n i n g . T h i s a b s e n c e of d e t a i l e d t h e o r e t i c a l support i s a strength, not a weakness, i n an argument w i d e s p r e a d acceptance,  a n d i t w i l l be c o n v e n i e n t  which seeks  to i d e n t i f y  a  distinct version of sentientism founded i n t h i s approach. I shall call i t 'soft sentientism'. Also note that Singer i s r e t u r n i n g the of proof to the c r i t i c by claiming t h a t e v e r y d a y  burden  morality already  fosters habits of thought and practice which make i t unreasonable treat like suffering  i n different  ways. Finally,  to  Singer argues that  i g n o r i n g nonhuman moral standing will result i n psychic dissonance, i n other  words, a state of emotional and intellectual discomfort similar  to t h e e x p e r i e n c e of t r y i n g to e m b r a c e a c o n t r a d i c t i o n . S i n g e r i s saying that i t i s nigh impossible for a c o n s c i e n t i o u s moral agent, brought  up i n o u r  traditions, to  treat  nonhuman  suffering  as  inconsiderable. Continuing Debate This strategy i s effective. Clearly, sentient nonhumans suffer have ' i n t e r e s t s '  Chapter Four  i n a manner  s i m i l a r to humans.  and  Coupled with  89  impartiality and consistency, and  without too much of a  theoretical  burden, t h i s seems enough to settle the issue: sentient nonhumans  are  31 considerable.  F u r t h e r m o r e , S i n g e r a p p e a r s to be r i g h t w h e n  postulates an evolutionary expansion of received morality — at  he  least  i n the English-speaking world — as part and parcel of a concern for greater consistency. My experience i s that young people are noticeably more receptive to moral expansion than their elders, and they have an expanded sense of 'fairness' which suggests a recent broadening of the moral franchise. However, moral evolution cuts two ways. My own moral outlook i s arguably a consequence of a general expansion of moral sympathy which has occurred d u r i n g the latter half of the 20th century. Am I caught up i n a moral t r e n d flawed i n ways I am not noticing? Partly as an antidote to t h i s p o s s i b i l i t y , a n d p a r t l y b e c a u s e i t i s i m p o r t a n t 32 secure humanist support  for moral expansion,  I am going to  to  play  devil's advocate: How might a moral humanist respond to Singer? What else i s t h e r e to say i n s u p p o r t  of t h e  argument from  rational  generosity? A False Doctrine, Or A Moral Inevitability? Humanism's best strategy i s to argue that while i t may, indeed, be hard for many of us to deny moral consideration to sentient nonhumans, that i s because we are  possessed  of a false  doctrine  and  morally  confused. The demands for impartiality and consistency cited by  the  argument from generosity arise within the human community, and they do not logically  require  any  extension  beyond  that  community. Human  morality i s self contained, and any ' p s y c h i c dissonance' consequent on resisting moral expansion can be corrected by properly Chapter Four  understanding 90  this. But Singer has a r e p l y . He i s saying that demands for impartiality and consistency have evolved because they serve the interests of the moral community by overcoming the arbitrariness of decisions based on preferences for personal welfare or the welfare of some group. Because of t h i s role, impartiality and  consistency  c e n t r a l f e a t u r e of morality u n t i l t h e y  have  are  gradually  become  now p o w e r f u l  a  enough  c o n c e r n s to l e a d r a t i o n a l moral a g e n t s b e y o n d t h e i r o r i g i n a l 33 preoccupation with human interests. a broadly compassionate humans,  J u s t as I claimed, earlier, that  moral attitude open to a l l suffering  so Singer i s now saying that impartiality and  b r o a d e n o u g h to e n f r a n c h i s e  nonhumans  benefits  benefits  consistency  us. This speaks  directly to moral humanism's concern for human welfare; however, i t i s open to the humanist objection that i t remains largely a speculative, empirical claim. Experiments I n P s y c h i c Dissonance Singer also has ' p s y c h i c dissonance' to appeal to. Suppose that a moral humanist i s w i l l i n g to a g r e e , i n i t i a l l y , t o t h e  expansion  I  called 'new model humanism' and to enfranchising sheep dogs. Can one really maintain that a sheep dog i s considerable whereas the wild deer 34 i t finds caught i n a barbed wire fence i s not?  If anything promises  p s y c h i c dissonance t h i s does. B u t a h u m a n i s t  might take t h a t  as  further evidence of the need to resist a l l expansion beyond humankind. Perhaps  a less  partisan  thought  dissonance c l o s e r to humanism's  experiment  own c o n c e r n s .  will b r i n g Suppose  psychic that  an  inherently sadistic, but usually cautious and conventionally  behaved  p e r s o n f i n d s h e r s e l f alone w i t h a s e n t i e n t c r e a t u r e  neither  Chapter Four  who  91  belongs to a moral community, nor has c a r i n g friends or relatives. It is possible to torture and k i l l t h i s creature without anyone else ever being affected. Doing so will b r i n g the sadist pleasure and but i t will not increase  her sadism, add to the emotional  release, problems  which have made her a sadist, or weaken any effect her moral education has had. Would the t o r t u r e be morally wrong? Imagine, f i r s t , t h a t t h e c r e a t u r e i s a s e n i l e o l d man w i t h  no  l i v i n g relatives or friends; second, that he i s a psychopath; t h i r d , that he i s a cat. Moral humanism had to struggle and compromise i n order to explain why i t i s wrong to torture  the  old man, greater  difficulty explaining why i t i s wrong to t o r t u r e a psychopath who has never contributed to the community, and apparently nothing at a l l to say a g a i n s t t o r t u r i n g t h e cat. Can a n h o n e s t , c o n s c i e n t i o u s m o r a l agent raised i n our moral traditions t r u l y appreciate these moral limits? If so, the case against  and live  moral humanism  with  remains  35 incomplete. If not, humanists must become sentientists. Sentientism I n Practice Sometimes, i t seems that once debate reaches t h i s stage, fear of s e n t i e n t i s m ' s a d v e r s e effect on h u m a n w e l f a r e i s a l l t h a t i s  left  holding humanists back. But although Singer has made a considerable reputation defending vegetarianism and the need to c u r t a i l experiments on nonhumans, a n d a l t h o u g h he a r g u e s c o g e n t l y t h a t a n i m p a r t i a l appraisal of human and nonhuman interests make agribusiness practices 36 and much research indefensible, he i s adamant that medical research 37 is frequently a different issue: . . . w o u l d t h e o p p o n e n t o f e x p e r i m e n t a t i o n be p r e p a r e d to l e t t h o u s a n d s d i e f r o m a t e r r i b l e disease which could be c u r e d by experimenting on one animal? This i s a purely hypothetical question, Chapter Four  92  s i n c e experiments do n o t h a v e s u c h d r a m a t i c r e s u l t s , b u t . . . I t h i n k t h e q u e s t i o n s h o u l d be answered affirmatively — i n other words, i f one, or even a dozen animals had to suffer experiments i n o r d e r to save t h o u s a n d s , I w o u l d t h i n k i t right... Morally considerable entities are not beyond a l l sacrifice according 38 to Singer's vision of sentientism. A n Inconclusive E n d To The Present Debate This completes the sentientist case which utilitarian philosophers have built around Bentham's concern for nonhuman suffering. Has enough now been said to constitute a rationally satisfactory case for making sentience  ( i n t h e a n a l y t i c sense) a s u f f i c i e n t c o n d i t i o n of m o r a l  standing? The argument from rational generosity offers the best case b y c o m b i n i n g elements of hedonic a n d i n t e r e s t - b a s e d  sentientism  without the burden of utilitarian moral theory, and i t goes a long way to explaining the pre-theoretical sense that a capacity for should be sufficient to secure  suffering  moral standing. But I s t i l l find  that  i n debate moral humanists will retreat behind the logic of humanism's conception of morality's mandate and resist any attempt to establish commonality. Why do they not share the sense that a l l suffering i s morally i m p o r t a n t ? A f t e r a l l , S i n g e r c l a i m s t h a t what I am c a l l i n g 'soft sentientism' should be compelling for anyone raised i n our moral traditions. A ready explanation i s that Singer overestimates  our  tradition's  homogeneity. From a humanist p e r s p e c t i v e , s e n t i e n t i s m ' s f o c u s on suffering and interests  per se i s a radical and controversial change;  i t r e q u i r e s a new c o n c e p t i o n of m o r a l i t y ' s p u r p o s e appropriately represented  w h i c h i s more  as a ( l i t e r a l ) ' p a r a d i g m s h i f t ' t h a n  Singer's chosen figure of a smoothly expanding circle. I, Chapter Four  by  therefore, 93  urge that i f the movement for moral expansion i s to be seen to do justice by humanism (and humanist support matters, given the practical importance of t h e i n i t i a l q u e s t i o n ) , p r o p o n e n t s g e n e r o s i t y must a d d r e s s  the d i f f e r e n c e s  of g r e a t e r  between  moral  humanism and  sentientism — and t h i s matter of the paradigm shift — more d i r e c t l y than Singer does. It i s not enough to gesture, even eloquently, at a probable process of moral evolution. But before we attempt any new i n s i g h t s , or t r y to make any new contributions to the  disagreement  between humanism and sentientism, we must explore what the  other  arguments for increased moral generosity have to say. In consequence, the humanist-sentientist debate i s now set aside u n t i l we  take i t up  again i n Chapter Nine.  Chapter Four  94  Chapter F i v e SENTIENTISM WITHOUT AGGREGATION  Beside the  broadly utilitarian approach  need to set Tom Regan's d i s p u t e maximising aggregated interest  of the  last chapter,  we  with S i n g e r . Regan a r g u e s t h a t  satisfaction — which i s how  Singer's  utilitarianism seeks impartiality — i s incompatible with r e c e i v e d morality, and i t vitiates i n t e r e s t - b a s e d  sentientism. This criticism  offers an important perspective on the utilitarian approach to moral expansion, and Regan's 'rights-view* i s a possible alternative to  soft  sentientism. There are two a s p e c t s to Regan's r e j e c t i o n of  interest-based  sentientism which i t i s helpful to recognise from the outset. On one hand, Regan, l i k e Singer, wants the human  abuse.  However, Regan  is  higher not  mammals protected  satisfied  that  from  utilitarian  sentientism affords them adequate protection. As discussed i n the last c h a p t e r , human welfare sometimes  a p p e a r s to j u s t i f y  sacrificing  nonhuman l i v e s and interests, and Regan hopes to show that the higher mammals warrant a degree of moral standing which v i r t u a l l y precludes this. On the other hand, Regan develops an account of moral scope which will  secure  his  goal by t a k i n g  issue  with Singer's  f o r m of  utilitarianism per se. In papers and a book published over about ten years,  1  Regan i n c r e a s i n g l y comes t o o f f e r t h e  rights-view  as a  necessary antidote to Singer's moral theory independently of any need 2 for  moral e x p a n s i o n .  Singer's sometimes  utilitarianism entails  Chapter Five  His t a c t i c (maximising  i s , f i r s t , to aggregated  sacrificing human  life,  e x h i b i t a flaw interest  contrary  in  satisfaction to  received 95  morality); second, to repair the  difficulty  (by ascribing a v i r t u a l l y  inalienable r i g h t to life to individuals); t h i r d , to show  us that, i n  consequence, many nonhumans are as morally well-protected as humans (they satisfy the c r i t e r i o n for a r i g h t to life). There i s nothing disingenuous about t h i s combination of personal motive and  philosophical tactic, and Regan i s quite open about  his  3  search for a means to a v e r y specific end.  However, the possibility  for c o n f u s i n g Regan's motives w i t h h i s a r g u m e n t r e m a i n , i f o n l y because he i s so e x p l i c i t about t h e f o r m e r . I n o f f e r i n g a c r i t i c a l appraisal of the r i g h t s view, I shall attempt to provide a brief guide to Regan's argument which separates these two aspects. CAN HUMAN L I F E BE LEGITIMATELY SACRIFICED? Introducing A u n t Bea Regan t h i n k s Singer's problems begin when (true to utilitarianism) he defines  a r i g h t a c t i o n as one w h i c h maximises p r e f e r e n c e  interest satisfaction. t h a t by s e c r e t l y inherit  her  To make his point, Regan asks us to  killing his r i c h and  fortune.  In consequence,  suppose  e l d e r l y A u n t B e a , he  Regan  many of his own interests and, t h r o u g h  or  will be able to  will  satisfy  acts of generousity,  many  interests held by other people. In such a case, says Regan, Singer must judge that k i l l i n g Aunt Bea i s justified: after will  maximise interest  satisfaction.  insists  killing  that  received  morality holds such k i l l i n g to be wrong. He concludes that  Singer's  utilitarianism is incompatible  But Regan  a l l , the  with received  morality and  is,  4  therefore, an unsatisfactory  moral theory.  Possible Responses Before t h r u s t i n g Chapter Five  an alternative into the gap, Regan attributes a 96  series of possible responses to Singer; he fears that Singer wants to ameliorate  the  i n c o m p a t i b i l i t y of u t i l i t a r i a n i s m a n d  received  morality. Regan begins with Singer's distinction between beings which 5  are merely c o n s c i o u s a n d b e i n g s w h i c h a r e s e l f - c o n s c i o u s .  Singer  argues that although a conscious being i s aware, i t i s not aware of itself, and does not know that i t has a future. Therefore, a conscious being cannot have a preference  for l i v i n g or d y i n g . By contrast,  a  self-conscious being i s self aware, knows that i t has a future, and i n all likelihood  does prefer  comparing i n t e r e s t s , preference  l i v i n g to d y i n g . Thus, when i t comes  a s e l f - c o n s c i o u s b e i n g ( l i k e a human)  f o r l i f e to t a k e i n t o a c c o u n t .  has  It follows t h a t  interests which would be satisfied by k i l l i n g Aunt Bea and  to a  the  spending  her fortune must be set against her own interest i n l i v i n g . On behalf of received morality, Regan now asks, Will Aunt Bea's interest i n life always entail that k i l l i n g Aunt Bea would be  wrong?  Singer recognises that i t does not: "the  person  wrong done to the  k i l l e d i s merely one f a c t o r to be t a k e n i n t o a c c o u n t , sometimes  be outweighed  by  the  preferences  of others."**  position i s plain. The sacrifice of human life i s morally when i t maximises aggregated interest  and...could Singer's acceptable  satisfaction.  F u r t h e r Responses? Regan's other proffered loopholes do not offer positions I foresee Singer embracing. F i r s t , Singer i s said to claim that whereas merely conscious beings are  'receptacles',  the sum of their preferences,  whose  moral significance i s only  self-conscious beings have some moral  worth i n themselves, independently of t h e i r  interests.  However, t h i s appears to be a misreading. In the discussion Regan  Chapter Five  97  r e f e r s to, S i n g e r i s p o i n t i n g out one a d v a n t a g e of utilitarianism  over  the  classical form.  Singer  utilitarianism with valuing a person's pleasure,  contemporary  credits  but  classical  not valuing  the  7  person herself.  T h i s has a d i s t u r b i n g c o n s e q u e n c e :  i f it is only  pleasure per se which i s of value, then there is no moral  difference  between euthanising Aunt Bea and d i s t r i b u t i n g her share of pleasure amongst others, and letting Aunt Bea l i v e . According to Singer,  his  version of utilitarianism avoids t h i s problem by recognising that Aunt Bea has a u n i q u e a n d  powerful i n t e r e s t i n c o n t i n u i n g  However, t h i s  does not  entail that  Bea  has  independently  of her i n t e r e s t s . F u r t h e r m o r e ,  moral and  her  significance  perhaps  fundamentally, there i s nothing i n Singer's moral theory  life.  more  which would  justify granting moral worth to self-conscious creatures independently 8 of their interests. Second, Regan imagines Singer t r y i n g to e n r i c h utilitarianism with a principle of equality interest satisfaction.  which would require  an even distribution of  I am not going to pursue t h i s part of Regan's  a r g u m e n t because i t i s so u n l i k e l y S i n g e r  would t r y to  d i s t r i b u t i v e e q u a l i t y . F o r one t h i n g , a p r i n c i p l e of equality i s bound to be i n tension goals, and, although c u r r e n t  distributive  with utilitarianism's  utilitarian theory  espouse  aggregative  i s subtle, i t i s  to imagine i t d e f i n i n g r i g h t a c t i o n s o l e l y i n t e r m s of  hard  aggregative  preference satisfaction, then t r y i n g to avoid the conclusion that life may (sometimes)  be l e g i t i m a t e l y s a c r i f i c e d i n o r d e r  interest satisfaction  elsewhere.  to  maximise  Besides, Singer clearly tells us  that  he accepts the possibility of sacrifice.  Chapter Five  98  Regan Is Unwilling To Compromise Does a l l t h i s mean t h a t Regan i s r i g h t , a n d  Singer's  v i e w of  morality i s seriously at odds with received moral t h i n k i n g ? Before we seek a d e f i n i t i v e a n s w e r ,  it is important  disparity i s certainly less blatant t h a n thinks  that, i n  sacrificing  practice,  beings,  recognise  based  the  Singer justifies  interest i n l i v i n g  mentioned  p r e f e r e n c e for c o n t i n u i n g l i f e , t h a t he t h i n k s interests will not often  rarely  such a strong (as  that  Regan p e r c e i v e s .  utilitarian calculation  human life. He ascribes  to s e l f - c o n s c i o u s  to  above) other  on  their  aggregated  outweigh i t . Singer i s sure that Aunt Bea's  interest i n continuing her life will preclude the k i n d of easy killing Regan contemplates when he eyes Aunt Bea's fortune. ** The problem i s 1  that t h i s seems not to be good enough for Regan: he i s adamant that r e c e i v e d morality r e j e c t s any p o s s i b i l i t y t h a t human legitimately sacrificed i n order  to  life can  maximise a g g r e g a t e d  be  interest  satisfaction, and he i s sure that Singer's moral theory i s a threat to Aunt Bea. TRIAL BY SHIPWRECK The Dog I n The Lifeboat The q u e s t i o n now i s , Whose p o s i t i o n b e s t r e s e m b l e s  received  morality? In answering i t , Regan takes up an example which proves to have unwelcome (and, for Regan, unanticipated)  implications for  the  rights-view. Regan asks us to suppose that there are four normal adults and a dog i n a lifeboat big enough for four b o d i e s .  11  Who goes  overboard?  The r i g h t s - v i e w recognises that the adults and the dog have interests which are  equally  Chapter Five  well p r o t e c t e d  from  sacrifice. Therefore,  99  the  r i g h t s - v i e w appears to offer  no principled support  for the  common  sense decision to throw out the dog and save the adults. But Regan argues that there is a factor  to c o n s i d e r  which will  justify  12 sacrificing the dog: ...the harm t h a t death i s , i s a f u n c t i o n of t h e o p p o r t u n i t i e s for s a t i s f a c t i o n i t f o r e c l o s e s , a n d no reasonable person would deny that the death of any of the four humans would be a greater prima facie loss, and t h u s a greater prima facie harm, than would be t r u e i n the case of the dog. Death for the dog...though a harm, i s not comparable to the harm that death would be for any of the humans. Regan i s making a point which we will encounter again later: given the load on the lifeboat, at least one death i s inevitable, and that makes i t legitimate to act so as to maximise i n t e r e s t  satisfaction.  Note  that, i n a situation like t h i s one, there i s no question of having to aggregate interests. Supposing I Had To Choose But  will a c o n s e q u e n t i a l c a l c u l a t i o n of r e l a t i v e i n d i v i d u a l l o s s  n e c e s s a r i l y harmonise with r e c e i v e d m o r a l i t y i n t h i s c a s e ? L e t us suppose that we are personally called on to decide  who leaves  the  lifeboat; i t behoves us to enquire closely into the prospects of each occupant, and what we find  may contradict Regan's v e r d i c t because  humans have more opportunities for dissatisfaction and suffering than a dog. On balance, the family satisfying  life  than,  for  pet  may have a better chance  example,  an  alcoholic,  of a  unemployed,  unskilled, middle-aged human with scant sources of satisfaction beyond pleasures he can no longer purchase. In which case, according to a consequential calculation, the dog should stay i n the  boat. I  doubt  that received morality concurs, and I am sure Regan would not welcome the outcome; however, i t does appear a consequence  Chapter Five  of the  decision  100  procedure he recommends. In  support of Regan, i t may be said that Singer's utilitarianism  entails the same decision, but t h i s overlooks an important between the  difference  positions. Singer explicitly admits to some discrepancy  between the consequences of utilitarian theory and received morality, 13 and he t r i e s to deal with the problem.  By contrast, Regan advertises  t h e r i g h t s - v i e w as compatible w i t h r e c e i v e d m o r a l i t y ; t h a t i s o n e reason we are supposed to prefer the r i g h t s - v i e w . It may also be said that although Regan p o r t r a y s death as a harm because of the opportunities for satisfaction which i t forecloses, the 14 i n t e r r u p t i o n of plans i s a harm independently of lost satisfaction. And i f plans are morally relevant, t h a t may be one reason why received morality i s so much more inclined to preserve humans than dogs: dogs do not have long term plans. But t h i s does not help Regan either. P l a n s are  not  distributed equally amongst  intellectually impaired humans  a l l humans  —  some  will have 'plans' hardly more complex  than a dog's — and i f moral status i s made to partly depend on the p o s s e s s i o n of p l a n s , some humans a r e l i k e l y t o be more m o r a l l y significant than others. As we shall find s h o r t l y , t h i s i s contrary to Regan's insistence t h a t a l l humans have exactly the same moral claim upon us. Furthermore, correlating relative moral standing  with plans  is contrary to Regan's desire to grant some nonhumans an equivalent claim. Thus, Regan does appear to be endorsing a satisfaction-based decision procedure  which  will n o t  always accord  with  received  morality.  Chapter Five  101  Another T r a v e l Disaster Suppose, now, that the  lifeboat i s overloaded  with an entirely  human p a r t y . Regan would use a n o n - a g g r e g a t i v e ,  consequential  c a l c u l a t i o n of p r o s p e c t s  who i s t o  i n o r d e r to d e t e r m i n e  be  sacrificed. But suppose that four members of the party are sociopaths who s t i l l manage to get some enjoyment out of life, while the fifth i s a gifted, but chronically depressed surgeon, who would have long ago committed suicide but for his sense of d u t y . Because Regan will not permit aggregation, he i s going to have to let the surgeon take  the  15 swim.  However, my sense i s that most people would wish to see one  of the sociopaths leave the life raft; moreover, t h i s decision can be justified future  by aggregating  the  interest  c l i e n t s . Here i s an i n s t a n c e  satisfaction  of the  when p e r m i t t i n g  surgeon's  aggregation  apparently yields a decision more i n accord with received morality. Shipwreck A n d Pestilence Finally, suppose the dog i s r e t u r n e d to the lifeboat, which i s now big  enough, and well provisioned enough, to sustain its  until rescue. Unfortunately, the dog c a r r i e s a disease blind the human passengers  passengers which  will  i f they catch i t . Common sense dictates  that the dog be thrown overboard. What i s more, a dog will arguably lose less by d y i n g than a human will lose by going blind;  therefore,  Regan's r i g h t s - v i e w can accommodate the decision to k i l l the dog so l o n g as the losses a n d harms w h i c h a r e r e c o g n i s e d as sacrifice are not limited to the loss of life.  justifying  But Regan would  not  accept t h i s . Not only i s he adamant that sacrifice i s only justified when a l i f e i s a l r e a d y at s t a k e , i t attribute the Chapter Five  would  do him d i s s e r v i c e  weaker position to him: i f Regan sanctioned  to  nonhuman 102  sacrifice obviating loss less than life, then the door would be open to a host of possible consequential prevent  Regan s e c u r i n g t h e  grounds  high level  for k i l l i n g . This would  of  moral p r o t e c t i o n  for  nonhumans which he seeks. Brothers Under The S k i n ? These examples — and they could easily be multiplied — indicate that, like Singer's utilitarianism, Regan's r i g h t s - v i e w does not  enjoy  an untroubled relationship with received morality. For one t h i n g , they b o t h t e n d to s a n c t i o n t h e s a c r i f i c e of h u m a n l i f e morality  would not  (as  i n the  extension  of t h e  when first  received example).  Furthermore, Regan's view will sometimes indicate the sacrifice of a human life other than that chosen by received morality (the example), o r i t will r e j e c t s a c r i f i c e of a n o n h u m a n  second  when r e c e i v e d  morality endorses i t (the t h i r d example). In consequence, there i s a need to review our reading of Regan. Although he has advertised compatibility with received morality as a major  strength  It i s , therefore, rather than  of the  r i g h t s - v i e w , there i s notable incompatibility.  best to read Regan as offering a reforming doctrine,  one  supported  by f u l l  compatibility  with  received  morality. This puts Regan on a more equal footing with Singer. Regan seeks compatibility between  moral theory and the c r u c i a l sense that  human life can rarely be legitimately sacrificed, and Singer, too, can put his name to t h i s so long as i t does read ' r a r e l y ' and not  'never'.  The question, now, i s whether Regan can convince us there i s a case for  p r e f e r r i n g the r i g h t s - v i e w , and rejecting a l l sacrifice based  aggregation,  without casting  Singer as the  counter-intuitive  villain  and himself as the saving voice of common-sense.  Chapter Five  on  103  THE INHERENT V A L U E OF HUMAN L I F E Protecting Aunt Bea It i s S i n g e r ' s u t i l i t a r i a n , i n t e r e s t - b a s e d ,  value  assignations  which support the view of legitimate sacrifice Regan objects to: i f a person's life i s valued at the sum of her interests, i t s value can be o u t w e i g h e d by o t h e r people's i n t e r e s t s .  1 6  p r o v i d e a t h e o r e t i c a l basis for r e s i s t a n c e  Therefore, i n order  to  to s a c r i f i c e based  on  aggregation (and other important human interests would seem to be as much at s t a k e , here, as c o n t i n u e d l i f e ) , R e g a n a r g u e s t h a t m o r a l theory must assign value to i n d i v i d u a l s i n a non-utilitarian way. He proposes granting a person an 'inherent' value independently of her interests  which  will take  precedence  over  almost  all  other  17 considerations.  The following argument against sacrificing Aunt Bea  i s then possible: Sacrificing Aunt Bea i n order to maximise interest satisfaction i s using  her  merely as a means  of a c h i e v i n g t h e  best  aggregate  consequences. (Except when the loss of a life i s already inevitable.) -  Moral agents are r e q u i r e d to adopt a Kantian view of " i n d i v i d u a l s  who h a v e . . . i n h e r e n t v a l u e " and e n s u r e t h a t t h e y a r e n o t  "treated  merely as means to securing the best aggregate consequences". ** 1  Therefore, recognising that Aunt Bea has inherent value her  against  being  sacrificed in order  to  maximise  protects interest  satisfaction. (Except when the loss of a life i s already inevitable.) The Exception The p a r e n t h e t i c a l exception to t h i s a r g u m e n t i s i m p o r t a n t Regan's case. Without i t , the conclusion would be highly  to  questionable  because — as a l r e a d y i n d i c a t e d b y R e g a n ' s i n t r o d u c t o r y l i f e b o a t Chapter Five  104  example — t r e a t i n g inconsistent  someone as a n e n d i n h e r s e l f i s n o t  with sacrificing  her  life for consequential  always  reasons.  To  take a more mundane example of t h i s , suppose that Bea crashed her car i n such a way that freeing either wreckage  Bea or her  will necessarily and equally endanger  passenger from the  the  other's life.  In  t h i s case, to treat Bea as an end i n herself amongst other ends i s arguably to weigh Bea's interest i n l i v i n g alongside her  passenger's 19  interest i n l i v i n g , then decide whose interest i s greatest. words  — as  mentioned  above  — when  inevitable, Regan t h i n k s i t reasonable asking  who has  the  most to l o s e . 20  loss  of  life  In other is  already  to decide who should die by Hence,  Regan  sanctions  the  parenthetical exception. A Practical Sijmilarity And A Theoretical Difference  What R e g a n  perceives  as  the  essential  flaw  in  Singer's  utilitarianism can now be placed alongside a definitive statement of his own view of legitimate sacrifice: Regan r e j e c t s  preference  utilitarianism because i t  sanctions  consequential calculations which aggregate benefits and harms i n such a way that a b i g harm (death) done to one person can be offset by a host of small benefits  (interest  satisfactions)  enjoyed  by  many  others. -  However, Regan does not reject a l l consequential calculations, only  aggregative are  made  inevitable,  calculations, and when death Regan  calculations i n v o l v i n g  i s not a l r e a d y  explicitly  recognises  sacrifice  which  i n e v i t a b l e . When d e a t h that  it  is  legitimate  is to  sacrifice one of the parties and to use a consequential calculation of t h e i r prospects i n deciding who. Chapter Five  105  Given that Regan countenances sacrifice under some circumstances, t h a t S i n g e r i s at pains to r e s t r i c t l e g i t i m a t e s a c r i f i c e , a n d  that  both court incompatibility with received morality, there i s now clear question whether Regan's position i s that different from Singer's i n practice. A n d when i t comes time to decide how much credence to give the r i g h t s - v i e w , t h i s will be an important consideration. However, for now,  i t i s the theoretical difference between Singer and Regan which  demands our attention. Singer sanctions aggregating interests individuals even  when d o i n g so l e g i t i m i s e s o t h e r w i s e  s a c r i f i c e , a n d Regan a b s o l u t e l y o p p o s e s  t h i s i n the  across  avoidable  name of  the  inherent value of the i n d i v i d u a l . Who i s r i g h t ? Back I n The Court Of Received Opinion Because Regan i s so c o n c e r n e d a b o u t r e c e i v e d m o r a l i t y , i t i s reasonable to approach t h i s question by asking whose position best coincides with our pre-theoretical understanding. The second lifeboat example (when i t c a r r i e d four sociopaths and a depressed  surgeon)  already tells against Regan, and i t i s easily replicated. Suppose that i n a prison camp one person must die so that five hundred do not catch a s e r i o u s l y d i s a b l i n g disease. My s e n s e i s t h a t r e c e i v e d m o r a l i t y would sanction k i l l i n g the one sick person. In general, when a lot of people are going to suffer a large loss which one major sacrifice will a v o i d , t h e major s a c r i f i c e i s p r o b a b l y l e g i t i m a t e . C e r t a i n l y , R e g a n must shoulder the burden of proof i f he wants to assert otherwise. But  the opposite may be t r u e  when benefits  not losses are  at  issue, as i n the case of k i l l i n g Aunt Bea. Would i t be r i g h t for me to k i l l the h e i r to t h e G u c c i f o r t u n e  i n o r d e r t o endow  scholarships i n philosophy? Probably not. How about  Chapter Five  university  killing  enough  106  r i c h people — and somehow a c q u i r i n g t h e i r fortunes — to provide a l l capable candidates (world-wide) with a u n i v e r s i t y education? Again, I think that received morality would balk at t h i s . What i s more, there is good reason why morality should not readily countenance a  human life for reasons of aggregated  benefits  sacrificing  however large  or  widespread: few of us could be convinced to accept the sacrifice of our own life on such a basis; thus,  consistency  makes i t h a r d  to  require that others would. However, we might make the noble choice i f we were, for example, untreatable disease c a r r i e r s . I urge that sacrifice i s a more complex matter than either Singer or Regan seem to acknowledge. In consequence, Singer i s arguably more in  harmony  with received morality when he claims that  otherwise inevitable harms  (less than  the  loss of life)  aggregating can  justify  sacrificing a life. By the same token, Regan may be better tuned  to  everyday t h i n k i n g when he rejects aggregated benefits as grounds for sacrifice. But, on the basis of argument  by example, one cannot  say  with confidence that either i s r i g h t . SEEKING A BASIS FOR HUMAN VALUE Two Questions R e q u i r i n g Answers To complete our understanding of the r i g h t s - v i e w , we need Regan's reasons for a t t r i b u t i n g  adequate inherent  value to i n d i v i d u a l s like  21 A u n t Bea.  Regan i n t r o d u c e s t h e a d d i t i o n a l n o t i o n s of  'justice', and 'respect'  when discussing inherent  'rights',  value. Thus, there  is also the question whether any, or a l l , of these notions should be read as the ground of Aunt Bea's inherent value, or i f they are best taken as explaining and i l l u s t r a t i n g what granting inherent value to Bea i n v o l v e s . That i s the matter to settle f i r s t . Chapter Five  107  Rights, Justice, and Respect Regan needs to secure a r i g h t to life for Aunt Bea which will protect her, and similar i n d i v i d u a l s , from b e i n g s a c r i f i c e d to  an  aggregation  the  of other  interests.  (This i s the  right  which gives  ' r i g h t s - v i e w ' i t s name.) U n d e r l y i n g the r i g h t which Regan seeks he f i n d s a ' b a s i c ' or ' n a t u r a l r i g h t ' to r e s p e c t . B y a ' n a t u r a l  right'  Regan means one which i s fully grounded i n qualities possessed by the 22 r i g h t holder.  U n d e r l y i n g the natural r i g h t to respect, Regan finds  inherent value. Thus, the r i g h t s Regan i s d i s c u s s i n g are  entirely  dependent upon the possession of inherent value. The story regarding ' j u s t i c e ' i s t h e same. ' J u s t t r e a t m e n t ' i s v i r t u a l l y d e f i n e d as 23  'the  respect due to a creature with inherent value'. What of respect itself? In one passage Regan discusses a "respect principle" which precludes  using inherently 24  their value depended upon their u t i l i t y " .  valuable persons "as i f But the respect principle  only says: "We are to t r e a t those i n d i v i d u a l s who have inherent  value  i n ways which respect t h e i r inherent value." This amounts to saying that inherently  valuable i n d i v i d u a l s must  valuable i n d i v i d u a l s . A n d when  be  treated  we look further,  as  we find  inherently that  this  involves never using inherently valuable i n d i v i d u a l s "merely as means to securing the best aggregate consequences." Thus, 'respect' makes no 25 apparent contribution of its own;  respect, too, i s based i n inherent  value. Why A s c r i b e Inherent Value to Individuals?^* We c a n r e t u r n to t h e q u e s t i o n why i n h e r e n t  value should  be  ascribed to i n d i v i d u a l s like Aunt Bea, knowing that this i s central to Chapter Five the r i g h t s - v i e w . Regan states that the inherent value 108 of understanding  individuals must be independent  of any  qualities which i n d i v i d u a l s  share unequally; otherwise, inherent value could not afford the  near  27 absolute and equal protection offered by received morality. Given human d i v e r s i t y , t h i s leaves few possible bases for inherent  value.  28 Regan presents his choice thus: It i s the similarities between those human beings who most c l e a r l y , most n o n c o n t r o v e r s i a l l y h a v e [inherent] value — the people r e a d i n g t h i s , for example — i t i s o u r s i m i l a r i t i e s . . . t h a t matter most. A n d the really c r u c i a l , the basic similarity i s simply t h i s ; we are each of us the experiencing subject of a life, each of us a conscious creature having an i n d i v i d u a l welfare that has importance to us whatever our usefulness to others. In other words, each of us has our own i n n e r life — our own unique window on affairs, with our accompanying thoughts and sensations — and we a l l prize ourselves independently of our usefulness  and our  29 individual  qualities and  question, Why does t h i s  characteristics. preclude  But t h i s  sacrificing  s t i l l leaves  experiencing  the  subjects  except when death i s already inevitable? Is That All? In apparent answer, Regan offers a description of what i t i s like to be an experiencing s u b j e c t : ^ We want and prefer t h i n g s ; believe and feel t h i n g s ; recall and expect t h i n g s . And a l l these dimensions of our life, i n c l u d i n g our pleasure and pain, our enjoyment a n d s u f f e r i n g , o u r s a t i s f a c t i o n a n d f r u s t r a t i o n , our continued existence or our untimely death — a l l make a d i f f e r e n c e to t h e quality of our life as l i v e d , as experienced by us as i n d i v i d u a l s . However, t h i s only appears to say that an experiencing subject has a capacity for pleasure and pain, and has preferences  and  interests.  Granted, t h i s i s a commonality with sentient non-humans — especially the higher mammals Regan i s so concerned about — and so here, at Chapter Five  109  last, are  clear  grounds  for  extending  moral consideration  sentient beings. However, these are the interest-based  sentientism  same grounds  which Regan rejects.  to  other  cited by  What i s more,  the they  offer no apparent basis for a r i g h t to life. What are Regan's reasons for claiming more than moral consideration for experiencing  subjects.  AN UNFINISHED WORK? Singer's Theme I confess to f e e l i n g l e t down a n d  p u z z l e d by t h i s  supposed  denouement; i t seems unequal to the theory Regan has constructed and to the conclusions he advocates. Let us look further. S i n g e r offers an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of t h e r i g h t s - v i e w w h i c h does 31 complete the account: An experiencing subject i s capable of pleasures and satisfactions which have i n t r i n s i c value. Life i s a prerequisite for pleasures and satisfactions. Therefore, the life of an experiencing subject has value. Viewed impartially, the value of the life of one experiencing subject i s equivalent to the value of the life of any other. Therefore, there can be no good r e a s o n to s a c r i f i c e one e x p e r i e n c i n g subject i n order to enhance the life of another. Singer's emphasis on impartiality i s , I t h i n k , a significant component of t h e  rights-view given its final  egalitarianism.  r e s p e c t s , S i n g e r ' s r e a d i n g i s an u n s a t i s f a c t o r y  But, i n  other  representation  of  Regan's mature position. A Utilitarian 'Rights-View* F i r s t , i t i s Singer, rather than Regan, who grounds the value of an e x p e r i e n c i n g l i f e i n p l e a s u r e valuable  because i t  life  instrumental,  has  makes not  and satisfaction.  pleasure inherent  c r i t i c i s e s S i n g e r for h o l d i n g t h i s  Chapter Five  and  If life i s o n l y  satisfaction  value.  possible,  Furthermore,  view, arguing  that it  then  Regan reduces  110  e x p e r i e n c i n g l i f e to t h e  s t a t u s of a ' r e c e p t a c l e ' ,  or  'cup',  for  32 pleasure, without value i n itself.  Regan's own consistent theme i s  t h a t an e x p e r i e n c i n g l i f e has i n h e r e n t v a l u e i n d e p e n d e n t l y of t h e pleasure or satisfaction i t affords. Second, Singer's proposed argument does not support the conclusion that there can be no good reason for sacrificing  one experiencing  subject i n order to advantage another. If lives are valuable because of the pleasure and satisfaction they afford, then there i s a basis for discrimination: some lives offer better opportunities for  pleasure  and satisfaction than others, even on an impartial view, and they are, therefore, arguably more valuable. Regan must have his sights on a source of inherent value which i s unaffected by differences i n quality of l i f e . I n sum, S i n g e r i s p r e s e n t i n g a u t i l i t a r i a n r e a d i n g of t h e r i g h t s - v i e w , rather than the r i g h t s - v i e w itself. Starting With Regan's Own Assumptions A n a l t e r n a t i v e r e a d i n g of R e g a n c a n be h a d b y t r e a t i n g  this  ascription of inherent value, and a fundamental moral egalitarianism, as parts of an axiomatic f i r s t premise. Regan then has an  argument  against sacrificing Aunt Bea which naturally extends to many sentient 33 nonhumans: Human i n d i v i d u a l s a l l have equivalent inherent value. In order to respect t h i s inherent value, we must hold the sacrifice of human life illegitimate except when a death i s a l r e a d y i n e v i t a b l e . Human l i f e c e r t a i n l y cannot be s a c r i f i c e d  in order  to  maximise  aggregated  interest satisfaction. -  Because a l l humans are so valued, the basis of t h e i r inherent value  must be something which i s common to humans whatever t h e i r gifts, Chapter Five  111  qualities, or inclinations. -  A l l humans are equally experiencing subjects of a life to whom life  matters. This i s the basis of their inherent value. Not only humans, but also many sentient nonhumans (roughly the higher mammals) are experiencing subjects to whom life can be said to matter. -  Therefore, consistency dictates that those sentient nonhumans who  are experiencing subjects of a life can claim the same protection from sacrifice as humans. This argument secures e v e r y t h i n g Regan seeks, and, i f we accept the initial premise, i t makes a powerful case. However, i f we reject the initial premise — and grounds for rejection have already  been  presented — then the argument collapses. Positing A Fundamental Attitude Surely there i s more to Regan's position than  an argument  easily dismissed? Why i s he certain that experiencing l i v e s have  so the  inherent value he attributes to them, and that inherent value entails the consequences he describes? Regan i s a cogent philosopher, and i t i s unlikely that the r i g h t s - v i e w finally r e s t s on a premise which i s supported  by his personal moral sense and  a misunderstanding of  received morality. Here i s a suggestion about how we might read the rights-view. For Regan, the quality of an experiencing life i s so precious that i t can only be sacrificed when another experiencing life i s at That i s why Regan describes  stake.  what i t i s l i k e to be an experiencing  subject: he wants to remind us how precious life i s to each of us. But t h e r e must be an i n t e r m e d i a r y s t e p b e t w e e n t h i s d e s c r i p t i o n of  Chapter Five  112  experiencing life — and our personal sense of i t s preciousness — and R e g a n ' s claim t h a t c e r t a i n t r e a t m e n t i s d u e  to a n e x p e r i e n c i n g  subject. Description and feelings alone neither entail nor j u s t i f y any 34 particular treatment.  I suggest that the l i n k i s a particular moral  attitude. Like the art lover's attitude to beauty, t h i s moral attitude motivates and makes sense of certain behaviours when experiencing life i s encountered.^  5  Describing The Fundamental Attitude Supposing that Regan's position does involve a fundamental moral attitude,  how s h o u l d i t be  described?  If  we f o c u s  on  description of experiencing subjects as sentient, self-aware with interests, only  i t may seem that the  an acceptance  that there  are  fundamental things  Regan's creatures  attitude i n v o l v e s  which  matter  to  an  experiencing subject. But Regan wants to claim more. (Which i s what ultimately  distinguishes him from  the  utilitarians.) He asserts  there i s something about an experiencing subject  that  which secures  her  inherent value and largely rules out her sacrifice. What i s t h i s ' s o m e t h i n g ' ? It i s h e r c o n c e r n f o r h e r s e l f . perhaps, i n the case of sentient  (Or,  nonhumans, i t i s her tendency  to  consciously preserve and defend her life. Most mammals appear to lack self-regard.) Once, again, t h i s i s why Regan describes what i t i s like to be an experiencing subject. He i s reminding us that our personal welfare i s so important to each of us that, i n extremis, i t o v e r - r i d e s almost a l l o t h e r c o n s i d e r a t i o n s : we v a l u e o u r s e l v e s so h i g h l y t h a t sacrificing  our l i v e s is almost, but  not e n t i r e l y , out  of  the  question. As noted earlier, we would certainly not sacrifice ourselves i n o r d e r to maximise the a g g r e g a t e d , Chapter Five  but i n d i v i d u a l l y  small, 113  satisfactions  of others.  On t h i s  reading, then,  Regan's  fundamental  moral attitude i n v o l v e s valuing an experiencing subject humans value o u r s e l v e s , o r , to be s t r i c t l y c o r r e c t ,  much as as  we  we  value  ourselves when our self-esteem i s h i g h . Another way of viewing t h i s suggestion  i s to focus on  concern for impartiality. His claim about equivalent  Regan's  inherent  value  amounts to saying that there i s no legitimate basis for elevating one centre of consciousness and awareness over a n o t h e r .  36  A n d , i n order to  help b r i n g us to an appreciation of t h i s , he i s reminding us what i t i s like to be such a centre and how reluctant  we are to r e l i n q u i s h  life. But Much Is S t i l l Left Unsaid If  I am r i g h t , a n d t h e  rights-view  is  best  read  as  finally  grounding not j u s t i n Regan's moral sense, nor i n his perception of received morality, but i n a fundamental attitude, then there i s a way f o r Regan to c o n t i n u e h i s a r g u m e n t questioned.  when i t s i n i t i a l  Regan can t r y to explain why the  premise  fundamental  is  attitude  should be part of our morality. However, I do not f i n d Regan doing t h i s . Perhaps he i s confident that received morality does  adequately  support the r i g h t s - v i e w and that more need not be said; perhaps I have misunderstood Regan, and t h i s fundamental attitude i s no part of his position. What i s certain i s the  rights-view's  presently  inadequate  foundation. MORALS AND CONCLUSIONS An Exercise To L e a r n From But despite the r i g h t s - v i e w ' s flaws, there i s s t i l l much to learn from i t . Its e r r o r s are i n s t r u c t i v e , and i t has important implications  Chapter Five  114  f o r any form of s e n t i e n t i s m b r o a d l y g r o u n d e d i n t h e u t i l i t a r i a n tradition. Let us begin with the flaws. Closing Our Moral Options The r i g h t - v i e w s e n t a i l s t h a t two s t r i c t l y r a n k e d v a l u e s  take  precedence o v e r a l l o t h e r p o s s i b l e s o u r c e s of m o r a l s i g n i f i c a n c e . First  place goes to the  (whose life  inherent  value of an experiencing  may not be sacrificed except  i n e v i t a b l e ) a n d second place to t h e  when a death  v a l u e of f u t u r e  (which may be used as a 'tie-breaker'  subject  is  already  satisfactions  when a death i s inevitable).  Although Regan i s proud that t h i s axiology outlaws animal husbandry, blood s p o r t s , a n d s c i e n t i f i c e x p e r i m e n t s  on h i g h e r  mammals  (at  37 least),  he arguably goes too far. For example, there are  societies  which s t i l l live by hunting, and Regan i s offering these people a choice between c o n t r a v e n i n g r a t i o n a l m o r a l i t y a n d c o n s t a n t  near-  s t a r v a t i o n . T h i s i s not j u s t e t h n o c e n t r i c ; i t i s l u d i c r o u s . I n sense of G o o d p a s t e r ' s  Distinction 4 ('operative'  vs.  the  'regulative'  moral standing), Regan i s proposing an account of moral scope which has no chance of being 'operative' for people who must k i l l higher mammals f o r food. I n s h o r t , t h e  r i g h t s - v i e w p e r m i t s no way of 38 j u s t i f y i n g a life based on meat eating. Non-therapeutic, lethal experimentation on experiencing subjects 39 i s similarly legislated off the agenda.  A n d i f Regan i s concerned  about received morality, then he i s s u r e l y f l y i n g i n the face of that concern. Imagine having to decide whether to permit or ban a series of experiments likely to end a c r i p p l i n g  and painful  disease;  I  doubt  there are many who would ban them. That suggests the r i g h t s - v i e w i s too extreme Chapter Five  for received morality. (By contrast,  all broadly 115  utilitarian when they  sentientisms are  sanction  conducted  as  non-therapeutic,  humanely as  lethal  possible and  notable s u f f e r i n g f o r o t h e r e x p e r i e n c i n g s u b j e c t s . ) another  of G o o d p a s t e r ' s  experiments will  lessen  Interestingly,  distinctions holds a s o l u t i o n to  Regan's  problem: D i s t i n c t i o n 2 d e s c r i b e s a s y s t e m of m o r a l r a n k i n g  which  permits distinctions to be drawn between considerable beings. Regan's is committed to the  view that something i s either  considerable, i n  which case i t enjoys the same degree of moral standing as a l l other considerable things, or inconsiderable. A n d P r o h i b i t i n g F u r t h e r Expansion Regan's complete unwillingness to sanction the sacrifice of higher mammals (except when a death i s inevitable) also contradicts common environmental practice. Park wardens, for example, routinely hunt and ' c u l l ' e x p e r i e n c i n g s u b j e c t s i n o r d e r to p r o t e c t  other fauna  and  f l o r a . B u t Regan denies a l l hope of l e g i t i m a c y to t h e i r  practice  because he recognises no basis for the claim that humbler  'interests'  may t a k e p r e c e d e n c e o v e r those of e x p e r i e n c i n g s u b j e c t s . d i s t u r b i n g n o t o n l y a s a n o u t r i g h t r e j e c t i o n of a n  This is  important  environmental practice, but also as a blanket denial that philosophy might say anything cogent i n support. The r i g h t s - v i e w rules out any p o s s i b i l i t y of a more e c o l o g i c a l l y s e n s i t i v e a x i o l o g y w h i c h  would  g r a n t s i g n i f i c a n c e to l o w l i e r o r g a n i s m s a n d e n t i t i e s .  makes  This  expansion beyond the mattering-gap n i g h impossible. A n Uncertain, B u t Limited Franchise F u r t h e r worrying consequences loom when we ask precisely which creatures the r i g h t s - v i e w protects. Regan never spells i t out, but we know they must be those nonhumans who are experiencing subjects of a  Chapter Five  116  l i f e , a n d S i n g e r ' s view i s t h a t means r o u g h l y c o n s c i o u s , i . e . 40 sentient,  subjects.  However, t h i s i s too generous.  Regan offers  a  secondary argument with which to secure moral protection for conscious nonmammals, s u c h as b i r d s and f i s h , indicating that the r i g h t s - v i e w itself excludes them. (I discuss the argument below.) My sense i s that Regan intends experiencing subjects to satisfy a c r i t e r i o n somewhere between  self-consciousness  and  consciousness.  Which creatures  and  k i n d s of creatures does that place on either side the boundary? The answer i s so far from being clear that I cannot envisage using t h i s boundary i n practice. But wherever the line i s drawn, i f i t falls the  short  of  sentience,  moral franchise i s too restricted for someone concerned at  the  plight of abused nonhumans. In consequence, Regan offers a codicil to 41 the r i g h t s - v i e w : Even assuming b i r d s and f i s h are not subjects-of-al i f e , to allow t h e i r r e c r e a t i o n a l or economic e x p l o i t a t i o n i s to e n c o u r a g e t h e f o r m a t i o n of habits and practices that lead to the violation of the r i g h t s of animals who are subjects-of-a-life. T h i s i s c o u s i n to t h e argument t h a t c r u e l t y t o a n i m a l s i s w r o n g because i t encourages habits injurious to humans. It always has been a weak argument, and Regan's version suffers the problem that most of us are  well able to t e l l mammals from o t h e r  creatures.  Given  moral  grounds for discrimination, and g i v e n , for example, that d u c k s  were  put on supermarket shelves where the steaks used to be, I am s u r e we could treat mammals as highly considerable entities and the r e s t 'fair game'. When i t comes to lowlier forms of sentient life,  as  Regan's  account of moral scope i s a poor substitute for the more generous and more consistent  Chapter Five  moral umbrella provided by the  broadly utilitarian  117  sentientisms. Overexposed To Criticism The last of the r i g h t s - v i e w ' s major flaws i s its slim response potential  criticism.  When m o r a l h u m a n i s m c l a i m s t h a t  to  Regan  misunderstands morality, the absence of reasons why a l l experiencing subjects should be granted inherent value entails that he can only respond by claiming the same of humanism. The impasse reached by humanism and sentientism i s quickly duplicated. In response to hedonic and interest-based sentientism's demand for a securely-founded larger f r a n c h i s e , Regan also has l i t t l e t o s a y utilitarian  moral theory.  b e y o n d h i s c r i t i c i s m s of  Particularly i n l i g h t of soft  sentientism's  lack of direct reliance on utilitarian theory, they offer scant  reason  not to broaden the franchise. Possible vitalist and ecosophist c r i t i c s are not R e g a n ' s c o n c e r n ; h o w e v e r , i t i s f a i r to n o t e t h a t — as discussed above — the r i g h t s - v i e w slams the door on further  moral  expansion without t a k i n g any account of the arguments advanced. A Useful Criticism, But Not A n Alternative Theory How s h o u l d we f i n a l l y j u d g e R e g a n ' s sometimes p u z z l i n g  and  difficult account of moral scope? Regan certainly has a point when he objects to the sacrifice of human life i n order to maximise aggregated interest  s a t i s f a c t i o n , p a r t i c u l a r l y when what i s at i s s u e  are  increased benefits not ameliorated harms. What i s more, his outright rejection of the possibility that experiencing lives may be sacrificed when a death i s not inevitable may have more to recommend i t than j u s t moral grandeur. On the other hand, contemporary utilitarianism claims to largely answer Regan's worries by a s c r i b i n g an interest i n l i v i n g to a l l experiencing subjects, and Singer does seem to share Regan's  Chapter Five  118  deep a v e r s i o n to easy s a c r i f i c e a n d c o m m i t t m e n t t o i m p a r t i a l i t y . Perhaps Regan i s t i l t i n g at a windmill, and the positions are not so far  a p a r t . It  would c e r t a i n l y be i n s t r u c t i v e to  have  the  moral  acceptability of aggregative, consequential calculations debated topic i n itself, with Regan's reasons  as  a  for rejecting them spelled out  further. F o r the  rest, I urge that Regan's account e n t a i l s too  problems to be c o n s i d e r e d an a l t e r n a t i v e to a n y of t h e  many  broadly  u t i l i t a r i a n s e n t i e n t i s m s . It i s c e r t a i n l y no more c o m p a t i b l e  with  received morality; i t fails to protect many sentient nonhumans  while  a s c r i b i n g too h i g h a degree of moral standing to those that i t does protect; and i t has little to say to c r i t i c s . Where Regan's view may have  an i m p o r t a n t  utilitarianism nearer  role to  play is i n  moving  contemporary  to received moral t h i n k i n g , and i n helping to 42  delineate what an acceptable sentientism must involve. 'Intuition' One important moral remains to be drawn. Regan's moral touchstone i s ' i n t u i t i o n ' i n the analytic philosopher's sense of a reflective but pre-theoretical judgement. Intuition i s useful i n ethics as a guide to received morality. But there are r i s k s i n appealing to i t i n argument, particularly i n building on i n t u i t i v e l y  supported  premises.  t h i n g , i f e v e r y d a y morality becomes o u r f i n a l a r b i t e r ,  F o r one  otherwise 43  questionable judgements and practices tend to pass unnoticed.  For  another t h i n g , there i s always the r i s k of r e l y i n g more on personal, p o s s i b l y i d i o s y n c r a t i c , moral n o t i o n s , t h a n on p u b l i c l y  accessible  ones. Regan's r i g h t s - v i e w comes close to both these sirens. Despite c a r e f u l argument, a n d h i s own e x p l i c i t l y s t a t e d Chapter Five  awareness  of t h e 119  d a n g e r i n h e r e n t i n a p p e a l i n g to i n t u i t i o n ,  the r i g h t s - v i e w  rests on a largely unexplained f i r s t  and i s tailored to  premise  still fit  45 Regan's deep compassion: The whole creation groans under the weight of the e v i l we humans v i s i t upon these mute, powerless creatures. It i s our heart, not j u s t our head, that c a l l s for an e n d , t h a t d e m a n d s of us t h a t we overcome, for them, the habits and forces behind their systematic oppression. I, for one, could not be more i n sympathy. But Regan fails to show me why  I should be, and that public, rational explanation i s what t h i s  enquiry seeks.  Chapter Five  120  PART THREE: THE MOVEMENT FROM ECOLOGY Chapter Six LOOKING BEYOND AFFECT  So far, the sentientist arguments t r i e d to show t h a t s e n t i e n c e ,  we have been d i s c u s s i n g have  or, i n Regan's case,  being  an  experiencing subject, is sufficient to s e c u r e moral s t a n d i n g . The possibility that moral expansion might go further has not been raised, nor  has  the  possibility  that sentientism includes arguments  which  block f u r t h e r e x p a n s i o n . The f o r m e r p o s s i b i l i t y — t h a t t h e r e a r e grounds for further  expansion — i s presented  by what I call  'the  movement from ecology'. The latter possibility — that sentientism can r e j e c t t h e movement i n advance — i s r a i s e d b y some  sentientist  philosophers, and i t needs to be dealt with before we consider the positive case. Is sentience  a clearly  necessary  condition for moral  s t a n d i n g ? If not, are t h e r e , p e r h a p s , o t h e r a p r i o r i g r o u n d s  for  r e s i s t i n g further expansion? These are the questions which the present chapter  addresses.  THE MATTERING GAP Forewarned Is Prepared In  discussing these issues — and  particularly in trying  to  understand sentientism's haste to block further moral expansion — we must be aware of exactly what i s proposed by the  movement  from  e c o l o g y . Whereas s e n t i e n t i s m i n a l l i t s f o r m s i s p r e d i c a t e d on a concern for experiencing lives, benefits and harms, and c o n s i s t e n c y ,  1  the movement from ecology looks well beyond experience i n order to identify  considerable entities. (As noted earlier, the  vitalism  which  the movement starts with seeks to extend consideration to a l l l i v i n g Chapter Six  121  individuals, including  non-sentient  organisms; ecosophism  embraces n a t u r a l s y s t e m s more u s u a l l y t r e a t e d distinct, living individuals, and  then  as c o l l e c t i o n s of  some e c o s o p h i s t s e v e n  want  to  enfranchise n o n - l i v i n g things.) A Source Of Puzzlement A n d Potential Misunderstanding To t h e s e n t i e n t i s t , t h e most s t r i k i n g , a n d p e r h a p s  the  most  puzzling aspect of these attempts i s the move to enfranchise entities to which events cannot matter. Most sentientists  will willingly  grant  consideration to any creature capable of suffering, and even the most sceptical humanist should appreciate  that  sentientism's  o r i g i n s owe  much to the humanist t r a d i t i o n . But both have difficulty understanding how anything can possibly matter morally, on i t s own account, when i t has no experiences, and, t h u s , nothing at a l l can possibly matter to i t . In consequence,  humanists and sentientists  tend to r e g a r d  the  movement from ecology as strange and possibly destructive of our moral traditions. While from the other side, humanists and sentientists may seem so preoccupied with experiencable consequences that they do not recognise they are making a fundamental, but perhaps not mandatory, 2 assumption about the moral enterprise. This i s why I say — without hyperbole — that further expansion, and the claim that some entities are considerable even though nothing can 'matter'  to them, leads across a philosophical and moral chasm  which I characterise as the 'mattering gap'. And because the mattering gap effects  s u c h a profound and controversial separation, so, too,  does t h e q u e s t i o n whether e n t i t i e s t o w h i c h n o t h i n g m a t t e r s  --  entities lacking the ability to experience what happens to them and, hence, sentience — can possibly be original sources of moral concern. Chapter Six  122  Two New Spokesmen Two r e p r e s e n t a t i o n s  of t h e s e n t i e n t i s t c a s e w i l l be  discussed,  here, alongside the beginnings of the movement from expansion. Both s e n t i e n t i s t p o s i t i o n s are i n t e r e s t - b a s e d ,  and because Singer  little to say about the  expansion, I have  issue of further  i n s t e a d , to J o e l F e i n b e r g a n d L . W. S u m n e r . Note t h a t  has  turned,  although  Feinberg and Sumner use the language of ' r i g h t s ' , they ground r i g h t s i n t h e p o s s e s s i o n of i n t e r e s t s , Goodpaster's  broadest  sense:  and they  c l e a r l y use  'rights'  r i g h t s - b e a r i n g i s equated  with  in  being  3  morally considerable. FEINBERG'S ARGUMENT A F i v e - S t e p Summary Feinberg's  reasons for  r e q u i r i n g that  s e n t i e n t emerge d u r i n g an a r g u m e n t  considerable  entities  be  w h i c h may be s u m m a r i s e d  as  4  follows: -  In order for an entity to have a r i g h t , two conditions must be met.  F i r s t , t h e e n t i t y must e i t h e r be c a p a b l e of c l a i m i n g i t s r i g h t f o r i t s e l f , or i t must be the  s o r t of e n t i t y  for  whom a p r o x y  can  5  reasonably claim to speak.  Second, the entity must also be "capable  of being a beneficiary", and have a "good or 'sake' of i t s own."** -  It i s reasonable to grant an entity a proxy only i f the entity  interests for the proxy to represent. This i s because 7 i n the  requisite sense, i s always of interests".  has  "representation,  Furthermore, i t i s  reasonable to c r e d i t an entity with a 'good' or 'sake' of i t s own only i f i t has i n t e r e s t s . T h i s i s because " a b e i n g w i t h o u t  interests...is  o  i n c a p a b l e of b e i n g h a r m e d or b e n e f i t t e d . . . " .  Thus, both  the  cChapter o n d i t i oSix n s s t a t e d i n s t e p o n e c o l l a p s e i n t o t h e p o s s e s s i o123 n of  interests. -  " I n t e r e s t s must be compounded somehow o u t of c o n a t i o n s . . . " .  9  Tentatively, Feinberg proposes that conations consist of any of the following:  "...conscious  impulses;  latent  fulfillments." -  wishes,  tendencies,  desires  directions  and of  hopes;...urges growth  and  and  natural  10  Many sentient nonhumans have conations and are capable of being  beneficiaries; therefore, these nonhumans potential  rights-bearers.  11  have i n t e r e s t s  and  The status of plants i s unclear at  are this  stage. Plants lack conscious wishes, desires and hopes, but they do have " b i o l o g i c a l p r o p e n s i t i e s " w h i c h a p p e a r t o s a t i s f y  Feinberg's  12 working definition of 'conation'. -  Feinberg then further  r e s t r i c t s the c r i t e r i a for a s c r i b i n g  interests: ...an i n t e r e s t , however t h e c o n c e p t i s f i n a l l y t o be a n a l y z e d , p r e s u p p o s e s at l e a s t r u d i m e n t a r y cognitive equipment. Interests are compounded out of d e s i r e s a n d aims, b o t h of w h i c h p r e s u p p o s e something like belief, or cognitive awareness. 13  Thus, Feinberg finally aligns his understanding of 'conation' with the more r e s t r i c t i v e sense offered by c u r r e n t usage. The 0. E . D. tells us that 'conation' i s a philosopher's word meaning the desire to perform an a c t i o n , o r  a v o l i t i o n , or  a voluntary  action. Feinberg  also  14 argues: Plants are never plausibly understood to be the direct intended beneficiaries of rules designed to ' p r o t e c t ' t h e m . . . . T r e e s a r e n o t t h e s o r t s of beings who have t h e i r 'own' sakes, despite the fact that they have biological propensities. On both counts 'plants' and 'trees' fail to have interests, according to Feinberg, and so cannot have r i g h t s . And because r i g h t s - b e a r i n g i s  Chapter Six  124  equated with being morally considerable, we may conclude that n o n 15 sentient organisms, i n general, lack moral standing. The Interest Principle C e n t r a l to t h i s a r g u m e n t i s what F e i n b e r g c a l l s t h e  "interest  principle': ** Feinberg's INTEREST PRINCIPLE states: "...the sorts of beings who can have r i g h t s are precisely those who have (or can have) interests." 1  Feinberg goes on to say: I have come to t h i s tentative conclusion for two reasons: (1) because a r i g h t holder must be capable of b e i n g r e p r e s e n t e d a n d i t i s i m p o s s i b l e t o represent a being that has no interests, and (2) because a r i g h t holder must be capable of being a beneficiary i n his own person, and a being without i n t e r e s t s i s a b e i n g t h a t i s i n c a p a b l e of b e i n g harmed or benefitted, having no good or "sake" of its own. Two reasons are b e i n g o f f e r e d , h e r e , i n s u p p o r t of t h e  interest  principle. They are spelled out more fully i n the five-step summary by the two sufficient conditions attached to r i g h t s bearing (at step one) plus the subsequent necessary conditions (introduced at step two). The interest  principle i s , therefore,  secured  at t h e  second step  F e i n b e r g ' s argument; t h e r e s t may be v i e w e d as w o r k i n g o u t interest  p r i n c i p l e ' s consequences  for  sentient  and  of the  nonsentient  17 organisms. The Interest Principle Plus We should, c e r t a i n l y , grant  Feinberg steps one and two of the  f i v e - s t e p argument, a n d t h e i n t e r e s t s p r i n c i p l e , b e c a u s e i t i s s o reasonable to correlate r i g h t s with interests. But how persuasive i s t h e r e s t of t h e argument? Step t h r e e c o m p o u n d s i n t e r e s t s o u t of conations i n the broad sense that includes "directions of growth and Chapter Six  125  natural fulfillments"; thus, agreeing sense v i e w , t h a t a l l l i v i n g threatens to extend interests  with the  things  do  generous,  have  but common  interests.  But  this  and, hence, r i g h t s to those  nonliving  t h i n g s w h i c h also have c l e a r d i r e c t i o n s of g r o w t h ( f o r  example,  stalactites), and that  would be contrary to everyday t h i n k i n g and  usage. Feinberg avoids the problem, at step five, by tightening up the notion of conations i n a way which — according to the 0. E . D. and as 18 noted above — accords with standard philosophical usage. The fourth, and penultimate, step of Feinberg's argument i s more q u e s t i o n a b l e . Why i s the s t a t u s of p l a n t s  u n c l e a r ? P r i o r t o him  n a r r o w i n g t h e d e f i n i t i o n of c o n a t i o n , i t seems more r e a s o n a b l e  to  conclude that plants, too, have interests. Feinberg must be demurring at step four because he already has his sights on the narrowing of the notion  of i n t e r e s t s  at  step  five.  Thus,  his  presentation  developmental, and the f i r s t definition of •conation' should be  is read  as a working definition only. The modifications offered at step five are F e i n b e r g ' s more c o n s i d e r e d p o s i t i o n , a n d t h e  full  five-step  argument — Feinberg's i n t e r e s t - p r i n c i p l e - p l u s — i s designed to show why i n t e r e s t s  are l i m i t e d to e n t i t i e s  with enough psychological  complexity to support, or at least approximate, desire and cognitive awareness. Overshoot But t h i s i s now so s t r i c t that, as well as r u l i n g out any hope of an argument for vitalism, the i n t e r e s t s - p r i n c i p l e plus also threatens to  deny  consideration to  psychologically simple creatures who are 19 s t i l l capable of suffering. In consequence, Feinberg later appears 20 to relax his grounds for a s c r i b i n g interests, writing of newborns: Chapter Six  126  They do have a capacity, no doubt from the v e r y b e g i n n i n g , to feel p a i n , a n d t h i s a l o n e may be sufficient ground for a s c r i b i n g both an interest and a r i g h t to them. Feinberg i s r e t u r n i n g to classical utilitarianism's unadorned  concern  for  morally  suffering  because  disenfranchised  he f e a r s  that  newborns  may  be  by the cognitive c r i t e r i o n for h a v i n g  interests.  However, i t i s seemingly inconsistent to hold that a newborn's  bare  capacity for suffering secures  still  an interest  and  a right,  while  r e q u i r i n g that interests, at a minimum, be grounded i n rudimentary desire and cognitive awareness. A Psychological Criterion F e i n b e r g does not e x p l i c i t l y s p e a k t o t h i s p r o b l e m , b u t i t i s possible to read 'conation' i n a way which supports both the assertion that babies have moral standing and the assertion that plants are not considerable. If 'conations' include "urges  and impulses" associated  with some degree of consciousness, but do not include unconscious " d i r e c t i o n s of g r o w t h a n d n a t u r a l f u l f i l l m e n t s " , t h e n b a b i e s conations while plants do not. In consequence, babies have  have  interests,  and are considerable, while non-sentient organisms fail to measure up. H o w e v e r , i f t h i s i s s u p p o s e d to d e n y a l l p o s s i b i l i t y of moral expansion beyond sentientism, i t must be clearly shown why morality should be concerned solely with psychologically based interests. A n Axiomatic Restriction Of Moral Concern Feinberg says little beyond what has been discussed, but additional reasons as he does offer centre on 'benefits' and This i s , no doubt, because  such  'goods'.  where there i s no possibility of benefit,  or any good held, there i s arguably no interest. Feinberg has already pointed out that considerable entities Chapter Six  must 127  be capable of being beneficiaries i n t h e i r own r i g h t , and he wants to 21 claim  — wrongly, I t h i n k — that t h i s i s not the case for plants.  Certainly, non-sentient  organisms cannot experience benefits, and i t  may not even make sense to speak of a non-sentient organism having a 'sake' of i t s own, but that does not mean a non-sentient  organism  c a n n o t be b e n e f i t t e d . A d r y p l a n t , f o r e x a m p l e , i s b e n e f i t t e d  by  watering. Feinberg seems to be conflating the experience of benefit with benefit  per  se. Feinberg also notes that although some moral  rules and practices may appear designed to benefit non-sentient life, 22 i t i s human i n t e r e s t s w h i c h m o r a l i t y i s s e e k i n g t o p r o t e c t . environmental  movement  and  ecological  philosophy  The  notwithstanding,  Feinberg i s largely r i g h t so far as received morality i s concerned: moral consideration i s not usually extended to non-sentient organisms. However, the chief reason for posing the i n i t i a l question was to find out  whether  received morality i s r i g h t . Therefore, c u r r e n t  practice  cannot be our chief guide to an answer. Finally, Feinberg claims that a non-sentient organism does not have a good of i t s own which morality can promote or protect. When goodness i s ascribed to plants, he says, i t i s always because of the 23 benefits t h e y c o n f e r on human b e i n g s .  This last claim i s false  i n s o f a r as n o n - s e n t i e n t o r g a n i s m s a r e t e l e o l o q i c a l a n d do h a v e a (teleological) good of t h e i r own, b u t i s t h i s a m o r a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t good? The clear, implicit sense of Feinberg's discussion i s that merely teleological goods are  not  morally t e l l i n g .  But why i s Feinberg so  confident of t h i s ? We have already seen that his view of conations r e q u i r e s us to c r e d i t F e i n b e r g w i t h t h i n k i n g t h a t p s y c h o l o g i c a l Chapter Six  128  capacity i s , finally,  what matters morally. His view of benefits  and  goods also makes best sense given this reading. Even i f non-sentient organisms can be considered beneficiaries i n themselves, and even i f t h e y do. have ' a good of t h e i r o w n ' , t h e i r l a c k of p s y c h o l o g i c a l infrastructure means that they cannot have experiencable benefits or goods. As I put i t earlier, nothing we do to a tree can possibly matter to the tree itself. I suggest  Feinberg i s amongst those  who  t h i n k i t axiomatic that morality i s concerned only with benefits  and  goods which are experienced, and with organisms to which our actions matter. That also explains why Feinberg so confidently claims received morality  in  disenfranchise  aid.  But the  organisms j u s t  question because  remains: they  Is  it  right  cannot experience  to what  happens to them? SUMNER'S VIA MEDIA An Account Which Serves Two Purposes The  understanding  which seems implicitly axiomatic i n Feinberg's  argument soon becomes a matter for explicit discussion i n Sumner's. S u m n e r ' s goal i s to e s t a b l i s h a v i a media b e t w e e n t h e s o - c a l l e d l i b e r a l and conservative positions on abortion, but  his approach i s  also intended to rebuff a vitalist attempt to bridge the using the  notion of 'interests'.  Sumner  has  mattering-gap  Goodpaster's  formative  paper on vitalism i n his rear-view mirror, which may be why he b r i n g s sentientism's concern with experience so clearly to the fore. I  will  take up Goodpaster's contribution to the debate after we discuss that portion of Sumner's argument which concerns us here. (It i s not part of t h i s e n q u i r y ' s mandate to enquire into the abortion issue p e r se, or to attempt a broad criticism of Sumner's purported resolution.)  Chapter Six  129  Sumner's Strategy Sumner hopes to offer a compromise p o s i t i o n o n a b o r t i o n b y s e c u r i n g an a c c o u n t of moral s c o p e w h i c h l i n k s t h e  m o r a l i t y of  abortion to fetal development. If moral standing depends on sentience, and i f degrees of moral standing depend on degrees of sentience, then Sumner has grounds for doing t h i s because (once a certain level of p h y s i o l o g i c a l development i s r e a c h e d ) a f e t u s  grows i n c r e a s i n g l y  sentient as pregnancy advances. Sumner i s , thus, positioned to support the progressive view that abortion i n early pregnancy i s acceptable, b u t t h a t as t h e  fetus  g r o w s , so, too, does the  case  against  24 abortion.  His argument  will be strongest  i f he can rule out  possibility that factors other than sentience affect  moral  the  status,  which i s one reason Sumner i s determined to r e s t r i c t moral concern to psychologically based interests and experiencable benefits and harms. To t h i s end, Sumner argues for an account of moral scope which makes s e n t i e n c e n e c e s s a r y a n d s u f f i c i e n t f o r m o r a l s t a n d i n g . He chooses a paradigm entity whose moral status he expects a l l to agree on (an adult human being with normal faculties); seeks the quality which grounds the paradigm's moral status (out of four possibilities - intrinsic value, life, sentience, and  r a t i o n a l i t y — he c h o o s e s 25  sentience); then asks how widely that quality i s shared.  Granting  Sumner's choice of a moral paradigm for now, and r e s e r v i n g judgement on h i s i n i t i a l l i s t of q u a l i t i e s , l e t u s r e v i e w t h e s t e p s b y  which  Sumner selects sentience. I n t r i n s i c Value, Life, A n d Rationality 26 Sumner rejects i n t r i n s i c value because: . . . i f t h i n g s have moral s t a n d i n g i n v i r t u e of having i n t r i n s i c value, and i f they have i n t r i n s i c Chapter Six  130  value i n v i r t u e of having some natural p r o p e r t y , then i t i s that natural property which i s s e r v i n g as the real c r i t e r i o n of moral standing, and the m i d d l e t e r m of i n t r i n s i c v a l u e i s e l i m i n a b l e without loss. But t h i s i s too hasty. Although Sumner i s surely correct i n claiming that i n t r i n s i c value attributions can always be questioned — and that the  r e a s o n s offered  standing on  will then  form the  final  c r i t e r i o n of m o r a l  — i t i s unclear that a l l i n t r i n s i c value attributions  some s i n g l e n a t u r a l  property.  F o r one  t h i n g , the  rest  n o t i o n of  ' i n t r i n s i c value' i s sometimes best read as a convenient shorthand for subtle and complex reasons for moral standing which do not reduce to the possession of simple, or single properties. For another t h i n g , i t i s possible that some entities are properly ascribed i n t r i n s i c value - and moral standing — for reasons which have as much to do with our 27 relationship to them as with t h e i r natural properties. The c r i t e r i o n ' l i f e ' i s r e j e c t e d  in the  course  of  Sumner's  criticism of Goodpaster, and I shall discuss that debate later i n the chapter. For now, I will mark the dismissal 'tentative'. The c r i t e r i o n 'rationality' i s rejected for the sound, and standard, excludes the  very  young, the 28  senile, the  reason that i t  intellectually limited,  and  sentient "ribrihumans. Sentience Only t h e "promising  c r i t e r i o n of s e n t i e n c e  middle p a t h " between 29  "rationality" and "life".  remains.  the  On Sumner's  Sumner  unacceptable  calls it  extremes  reading, i t i s also a  a of  broad  path: he argues that sentience i s a continuum r a n g i n g from a bare c a p a c i t y f o r s u f f e r i n g — which r e q u i r e s a w a r e n e s s b u t n o t  self-  awareness — to the t r a n s p o r t s and angst of those who are only too Chapter Six 131  self-aware.  Thus, 'entry  level'  sentience  requires  only  "the  ability  to e x p e r i e n c e s e n s a t i o n s of p l e a s u r e a n d p a i n " , w h i l e ' h i g h l e v e l ' sentience requires the psychological complexity of humans. Anywhere within t h i s continuum, Sumner ascribes moral significance to benefits and harms. He discerns broadly two k i n d s of significant benefit or harm, corresponding to the division between ' e n t r y ' ' h i g h level' sentience. There are  and  benefits and harms a c c r u i n g from  agreeable or disagreeable sensations; and benefits and harms  which  depend on the possession of wants, aims, desires, attitudes,  tastes,  30 values,  moods, emotions, sentiments  and  passions.  A l l are  clearly  experiencable benefits and harms. It follows that i f sentience i s the sole c r i t e r i o n of moral s t a n d i n g , as  Sumner contends,  e n t i t i e s capable of e x p e r i e n c a b l e b e n e f i t s a n d h a r m s a r e considerable,  and  all entities  which  lack  that  then  all  morally  capacity  are  inconsiderable. In consequence, sentientism's account of moral scope must enfranchise a l l sentient life mattering g a p .  while stopping i r r e v o c a b l y at  the  3 1  A n Insufficient Case So F a r This account arguably accords  well with c u r r e n t , l i b e r a l moral  t h i n k i n g , a n d i t c e r t a i n l y offers a t h e o r e t i c a l b a s i s f o r  Sumner's  abortion v i a media, but the case for r e s t r i c t i n g the moral franchise remains inadequate. Even continuing to grant that the paradigm moral entity i s the normal adult human Sumner postulates, and retaining the question mark over Goodpaster's c r i t e r i o n 'life', Sumner has dismissed the  possibility  of axiological  grounds  for  moral expansion  too  q u i c k l y . A x i o l o g i c a l arguments a r e o f f e r e d b y t h e movement f r o m ecology, and nothing Sumner has said proves them wrong. Furthermore, Chapter Six  132  Sumner's apparent belief that moral standing  must be justifiable i n  terms of some single natural property yields the s t a r t l i n g assumption that a l l moral standing sentience, and  must finally  ground i n life,  rationality, or  cannot possibly devolve upon a more subtle complex of  reasons s u c h as I mentioned earlier. No explanation i s offered  for  t h i s , which leaves Sumner's case incomplete. However, he does  have  additional  objections  to  raise;  they  require  us  to  consider  Goodpaster's case for vitalism. GOODPASTER'S ARGUMENT Two Approaches In order to make a positive case for further  expansion, vitalism  needs to show that despite t h e i r lack of psychological capacity  (at  least some) n o n - s e n t i e n t e n t i t i e s c a n be m e a n i n g f u l l y a f f e c t e d  by  human action, and that t h i s entails they matter morally i n themselves. Furthermore, given what was said i n Part One about the need to offer broadly accessible arguments  for moral expansion, the case must  be  made with an eye to humanist and sentientist scepticism and possible misunderstanding. There are broadly two ways of doing t h i s . One i s to seek common ground with sentientism, and use i t as a basis for b r i d g e b u i l d i n g ; t h e o t h e r i s to assume t h a t a n i n s u f f i c i e n c y of common ground exists, and argue, instead, for a r a d i c a l change i n moral outlook. Goodpaster chooses the f i r s t option, appealing to a shared notion of  'interests',  interests,  then  sentient  t r y i n g to  use  and non-sentient,  an  impartial concern  to continue the  for  all  momentum  for  expansion which has c a r r i e d s e n t i e n t i s m t o t h e m a t t e r i n g g a p . B y contrast,  other  Chapter Six  vitalists (and ecosophists)  lean towards  the  second  133  option.  Whereas  sentientists  proclaim i t  a  strength  that  their  p o s i t i o n g r o w s o u t w a r d from humanism b y modest i n c r e m e n t s ,  the  movement from ecology  — with the exception of Goodpaster's vitalism  — generally  a radically  describes  different,  informing outlook  morality. That outlook i n v o l v e s a more egalitarian, and less centered,  view of the e n t i r e  biotic community than  traditional, and the change i t i n v o l v e s may  for  human  has  been  be likened to the  shift  32 from a Ptolemaic to a Keplerian model of the solar system. Thus, Goodpaster's  vitalism i s distinct from  other  v i t a l i s t (and  ecosophist) approaches. However, i t i s Goodpaster's pioneering attempt to build a rapprochement  with sentientism which gives point to  the  subsequent change of course, and Sumner's rejection of that attempt illuminates the sentientist assumptions  which the  movement  from  ecology most needs to speak to. Goodpaster's Argument Goodpaster argues that non-sentient organisms share the  general  capacity for being benefitted and harmed with sentient creatures, and he infers that non-sentient organisms also have interests which secure 33 t h e i r moral standing. He writes: T h e r e i s no a b s u r d i t y i n imagining the representation of the needs of a tree for sun and water i n the face of a proposal to c u t i t down or pave i t s immediate radius for a p a r k i n g lot. ...In the face of t h e i r obvious tendencies to maintain and heal themselves, i t i s v e r y difficult to reject the idea of interests on the part of trees (and plants generally) i n remaining alive. Clearly, non-sentient organisms do have these k i n d s of interests, and i f i t can be shown that similar interests ground the moral standing of sentient  creatures,  then Goodpaster is right: the  programme of t r e a t i n g similar i n t e r e s t s Chapter Six  sentientist  in a consistently  similar 134  manner should ensure the moral standing of non-sentient organisms. Sumner's Response But  sentientism has a response.  Sumner carefully formulates  mandate i n a way which denies moral r e l e v a n c e t o interests,  and  he  makes sentientism's  its  non-sentient  position so abundantly  clear  34 that I will quote him i n full: Goodpaster does not s h r i n k from a t t r i b u t i n g interests to nonsentient organisms since he assumes that i f a being has needs, a good, and a capacity to be benefitted and harmed, then that being has i n t e r e s t s . There is much s u p p o r t for t h i s assumption i n t h e d i c t i o n a r y d e f i n i t i o n s of b o t h "interest" and "welfare" though talk of protecting the interests or welfare of plants seems c o n t r i v e d and strained. But philosophers and economists have e v o l v e d t e c h n i c a l d e f i n i t i o n s of " i n t e r e s t " a n d "welfare" that clearly t i e t h e s e notions to the psychological states of sentient beings. It i s the existence of b e i n g s with i n t e r e s t s o r w e l f a r e i n t h i s sense t h a t i s a n e c e s s a r y c o n d i t i o n of t h e existence of moral issues. T h u s , Sumner leaves no d o u b t t h a t , i n h i s view as a  sentientist,  morality's proper concern i s only those benefits and harms, and hence those i n t e r e s t s ,  w h i c h are l i n k e d " t o t h e p s y c h o l o g i c a l s t a t e s of  sentient beings." Why should t h i s be so? Sentientism's Focus On Affect If moral expansion i s to be achieved by working outward from the standard human paradigm — as both sentientists and Goodpaster aspire to do — then expansion must stop where the paradigm finally r e l e v a n c e . The p a r a d i g m human a d u l t a p p e a l e d t o b y  loses  sentientism  arguably loses relevance once moral expansion reaches organisms which lack a psychology and, therefore, or,  lack a l l possibility of experience,  p e r h a p s more p r e c i s e l y , ' a f f e c t ' i n t h e p s y c h o l o g i c a l s e n s e of 35  "feeling, emotion, desire, especially as leading to action".  Chapter Six  This i s  135  because organisms possessed of affect are l i k e the paradigm human i n that they have lives whose quality can be changed by human actions, but organisms lacking affect have no quality of life to change.  In  Nagel's phrase, again, there i s something i t i s like to be a cat,  but  t h e r e i s n o t h i n g i t i s l i k e to  our  be  a tree  (to  the  best  of  36 knowledge).  Thus, a cat i s similar to the  paradigm normal adult  human i n that a cat can experience benefits and harms, and i t can have the  quality of i t s life changed. By contrast,  a tree i s unlike  paradigm i n that i t experiences nothing, and i t has  the  no quality of  life. I n a d d i t i o n , i t may be noted t h a t s e n t i e n t i s m ' s c o n c e r n f o r benefits and harms which are experienced gives i t a powerful i n t u i t i v e a p p e a l , p l u s motivational f o r c e , b e c a u s e i t i s r e l a t i v e l y e a s y  for  humans to empathise with nonhuman s u f f e r i n g a n d p l e a s u r e . A n y successful argument for moral expansion must persuade moral agents to a c cept g r e a t e r  responsibility and s a c r i f i c e ,  and i f  sentientism's  prime goal i s to better the lot of nonhumans — and that i s certainly the goal for Regan and Singer — then i t i s wise for sentientism to halt the call for expansion once i t can no longer rely on empathy's support. Unlike the interests of sentient creatures, the interests of merely  living  organisms  offer  seemingly  little  basis  for  identification and human concern. None of t h i s c o n c l u s i v e l y p r o v e s t h a t m o r a l i t y s h o u l d o n l y  be  concerned with interests associated with good and bad experiences, but i t does place a b u r d e n of proof on v i t a l i s t s c l a i m i n g  otherwise.  V i t a l i s m ' s case cannot be made s i m p l y b y p o i n t i n g o u t t h a t n o n sentient  organisms have  Chapter Six  'interests'  too: s u c h  'affect-free  interests' 136  are clearly different, and i f vitalism wants to claim morality should transcend the difference, then more argument i s needed. A Limited, But Defensible, Axiology In fairness to Goodpaster, he does, i n a limited t h i s need also. He notes t h a t s e n t i e n t i s m ' s  way, speak  to  concern for affect  is  informed by an essentially hedonic axiology: sentientism i s the to  Bentham's  original,  compassionate  i n s i g h t and  to the  heir  hedonistic  37 c o n c e p t i o n of the  good which i n s p i r e d B e n t h a m . 38 Goodpaster questions the reasonableness of t h i s :  Furthermore,  B i o l o g i c a l l y , i t a p p e a r s t h a t s e n t i e n c e i s an a d a p t i v e c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of l i v i n g o r g a n i s m s t h a t provides them with a better capacity to...avoid...threats to l i f e . This...suggests, t h o u g h of c o u r s e i t does n o t p r o v e , t h a t t h e capacities to suffer and to enjoy are ancillary to something more important rather than tickets to [moral standing] i n t h e i r own r i g h t . The "something more important" i s , of course, life, and Goodpaster i s now moving towards a position taken up by later vitalists: morality should  value  a l l self-replicating, evolutionarily shaped,  teleological  i n d i v i d u a l s , whether or not they have the adaptive characteristic of affect. However, i f Goodpaster took t h i s s t e p , h i s p o s i t i o n r e l a t i v e t o the movement from interest  would be similar to sentientism's position  relative to humanism. Sentientists can object that because morality i s a human enterprise — founded originally i n a concern for human well b e i n g , a n d extended  up to t h e  mattering  gap  on the  basis  of  consistency and analogical reasoning — t h i s new concern for life i s simply no p a r t of i t s mandate. A n d b e c a u s e G o o d p a s t e r o f f e r s  no  further argument, an impasse similar to that between sentientism and humanism would occur. Chapter Six  137  CLEARING A PATH Both Sides Have Underestimated The Issue With  hindsight,  underestimates  the  I think distance  it  fair  to  between  say  that  sentientism  Sentientism i s not s u s c e p t i b l e t o a r a p p r o c h e m e n t , sentientism's  Goodpaster  and  vitalism.  and (just  own non-traditional focus on sentient interests  as  per  se  stands i n need further of justification) so vitalism must shoulder the need to offer original, and independent, s i g n i f i c a n c e to affect-free  interests.  reasons for a s c r i b i n g moral This will  require  showing  grounds for a radical change of moral outlook and a literal paradigm shift; thus, t a k i n g the  more r a d i c a l of the two options I discussed  earlier. But  i t i s also t r u e that sentientists  have u n d e r e s t i m a t e d  their task.  like Feinberg and  N o t h i n g s a i d so f a r  Sumner  shows  that  sentience i s necessary for moral standing, and i t seems unlikely that ever will be shown. What i s more, the objections raised against moral expansion  only  reveal  a  burden  of  proof  not  dissimilar  to  39 sentientism's own.  However, Sumner s t i l l has some points to make,  and I shall end t h i s chapter by t r y i n g to show that, should adequate arguments for vitalism be forthcoming, there are no obvious a p r i o r i reasons to resist them. If We Start, Can We Stop? Sumner a r g u e s t h a t i f moral c o n c e r n i s not r e s t r i c t e d psychologically  based  interests  and  the  experiencable  benefits  to and  harms which support them, there will be no obvious end to considerable 40 entities.  For example, I can benefit my computer by t a k i n g i t apart  and cleaning the oxidised connections; I can also harm the computer by Chapter Six  138  over-watering the plants on top and getting the connections wet. Is the computer, therefore,  morally considerable? Sumner t h i n k s that we  do not want that conclusion, and he may be r i g h t , even i f science does eventually  develop  self-repairing,  self-replicating  computers  which  41 are teleological entities. But even i f Sumner i s r i g h t i n t h i n k i n g that the c r i t e r i o n ' E i s considerable precisely when E i s capable of benefits and harms' would be too generous, that only shows the c r i t e r i o n may be a bad one, not that we should abandon a l l hope of further  moral expansion. Other  possible criteria - - like being a self-replicating, teleological entity  which i s p a r t of t h e  biotic community  --  expansion without r u n n i n g amok. Sumner's argument  offer  hope  of  i s l i k e claiming  that we cannot begin d r i v i n g down the road without finally crashing into the bogey man who l i v e s at the end. But who says we must ride i n a car  with no brakes?  Let us concentrate  on possible reasons for  expansion and t r u s t that rational morality i s able to embrace any good reasons for stopping. Moral Conflict Sumner also wonders how we will manage to make moral decisions 42 with so many entities and interests to take account of.  This i s a  worry often expressed by sentientists, and Goodpaster's Distinction 2 —  which differentiates  between  granting moral consideration per  se  and awarding a particular degree of moral standing to an entity — i s intended to speak to i t . As explained i n Part One, by recognising that there may be degrees of difference amongst considerable entities, we provide for the possibility of fine-grained status distinctions and a moral hierarchy which will simplify decision making. However, Sumner Chapter Six  139  i s r i g h t to point out that moral expansion complicates morality, and any potential account of moral scope certainly needs to indicate how c o n f l i c t will be dealt w i t h . B u t , o n c e a g a i n , t h a t i s no r e a s o n  to  resist moral expansion i f adequate arguments are offered. Another aspect of t h i s concern about decision making i s the worry that i f e v e r y t h i n g i n the world was considerable, then we would lose the contrast between considerable and non-considerable entities which gives meaning to the notion of moral standing:  without night, there  43 c a n be no u n d e r s t a n d i n g  of d a y .  However, i f an e n t i t y ' s  moral  standing i s a matter of degree, and i f there i s a moral continuum of entities  reaching  from the  very  considerable  to  the  almost  inconsiderable, then there should be sufficient contrast to make being 'considerable'  meaningful. Furthermore,  t h e r e i s , as  yet,  no  suggestion that e v e r y t h i n g i n the world should be deemed considerable except by sentientists seeking a reductio of the vitalist position. The Increasing B u r d e n In conversation, I have heard a further worry expressed a possibly increased  regarding  moral f r a n c h i s e . I f m o r a l i t y i s v i e w e d as  a  device for getting moral agents to act i n ways that they would rather not have to, then i t i s reasonable to object that the l a r g e r the moral franchise, the more oppressive the moral burden. Morality i s seen r e s t r i c t i v e , so one wants no more of i t than i s absolutely  as  necessary.  However, there i s another view, the tradition which claims that ethics provides a recipe for a particular omnipresent,  way of l i f e :  morality i s  but hopefully enabling rather than  Philosophers who espouse a broad  moral franchise,  then  restricting.  particularly  the  deep ecologists, tend towards t h i s understanding of morality as ethos. Chapter Six  140  Perhaps doing so does not answer a l l concerns, but i t suggests a perspective to keep i n mind as a possibly natural accompaniment to moral expansion. Furthermore, even i f the movement from expansion does succeed i n offering reasons to increase our moral b u r d e n , and even i f that i s more onerous, t h i s i s not adequate reason to reject expansion. If there are other, good reasons for extending consideration beyond sentient  organisms, then that i s what  i m p l i c a t i o n s of e x t e n s i o n  must t h e n  we should do. The practical be  worked out  i n l i g h t of  competing claims and interests. Another of Goodpaster's distinctions i s relevant to t h i s problem. D i s t i n c t i o n 4 d i f f e r e n t i a t e d r e g u l a t i v e m o r a l s t a t u s ( i . e . as  seen  purely i n l i g h t of 'theory') from operative moral status (i.e. as  seen  i n l i g h t of 'what we can live with'). Although t h i s enquiry must pay some a t t e n t i o n to o p e r a t i v e c o n c e r n s , i t i s s e e k i n g t h a t p r i m a r i l y r e g u l a t i v e account of moral scope w h i c h makes b e s t m o r a l s e n s e . Concern for our own moral burden i s an operative worry which amounts to us not wanting to expand our moral r e g a r d for entities to the point that i t becomes difficult to live with. A n d , for the purposes of t h i s e n q u i r y , i t i s a concern to set aside while we ask which entities are considerable on t h e i r own merits, or as nearly on t h e i r own merits as we can determine. But Could Utilitarianism Cross The Mattering Gap? But what does seem certain i s that expanding the moral franchise across the mattering gap would make utilitarian (i.e. optimal interest satisfaction)  calculations unwieldy at  best and impossible at  worst.  This i s not j u s t i n consequence of the multiplication of considerable e n t i t i e s , b u t also because of the  Chapter Six  differing  b a s e s of t h e i r  moral  141  standing. As well as the two kinds of sentient interest recognised by Sumner, there would also be non-sentient, affect-free  interests to f i t  into the equation. A n d utilitarian theory offers no hope of comparing all three. T h i s r e a l i s a t i o n may u n d e r l i e m u c h of t h e o p p o s i t i o n t o m o r a l e x p a n s i o n which has been e x p r e s s e d  by  utilitarian  sentientists.  However, i t i s no reason for those of a more theoretically  neutral  disposition to resist. What i s more, there i s a good case for t h i n k i n g that utilitarian calculations are  already impossible by the  time  mattering gap i s reached: How should I actually weigh a l l the  the  sentient  interests involved i n a simple action like b u y i n g a steak or c u t t i n g down the old c h e r r y tree i n the back yard? It i s not clear that I can determine what a l l those interests are, never mind f i g u r i n g out how to maximise them. (And r u l e - u t i l i t a r i a n solutions will j u s t optimism i f we cannot e v e r i d e n t i f y a n d  be flights of  weigh all the  pertinent  interests.) Given the problems already — and given that much of the u t i l i t a r i a n case a g a i n s t  cruelty  comes  d i s g u s t a n d compassion, s u p p o r t e d  by  down to  simple, visceral  rational consistency  and  morality's concern for humans — the loss i s arguably minor.  Chapter Six  142  Chapter Seven VITALISM: A DIFFERENT KIND OF STRATEGY  J u s t as humanism i s barely part of the movement from interest, but i s i t s clear point of departure,  so Goodpaster  provides a point of  departure for the movement from ecology. Sumner's rebuff writes finis to t h e i m p a r t i a l c o n c e r n for s i m i l a r i n t e r e s t s ,  and the analogical  reasoning, which takes sentientism to the mattering gap;  henceforth,  vitalism (and ecosophism) must attempt a radically different  strategy.  Thus (as mentioned at the beginning of the last chapter), i t i s Goodpaster's  rapprochement  fails, rather than  at the  after  mattering  gap  itself, that the task of reshaping morality begins. A n d , for the time b e i n g , no f u r t h e r  attempt i s made t o e s t a b l i s h c o m m o n a l i t y  with  humanism and sentientism. Thus, the arguments  which comprise the  movement from ecology  (proper) eschew any attempt to extrapolate from humanism or make the mattering gap something which moral agents must eventually cross, on pain of i r r a t i o n a l i t y . Instead, they  describe a more generous  moral  outlook, and a more comprehensive understanding of morality's purpose, which may be read as a response to the sense (and the evidence) that the  world  which sustains  us i s collapsing, and surely  morality  something to say about that. Vitalism and ecosophism largely t h e i r case b y s e t t i n g out t h e r e l a t i v e a t t r a c t i o n s ecologically sensible, p o s i t i o n .  of a n e w ,  has make and  1  The most 'conservative' of these new accounts of moral scope are proposed d u r i n g the early stages of Holmes Rolston I l l ' s exploratory development of a p o s s i b l e ethic f o r ' w i l d n a t u r e ' , Taylor's  proposed  Chapter Seven  foundation  for  an  a n d i n P a u l W.  environmental  ethic.  Both 143  p h i l o s o p h e r s p r e s e n t v i t a l i s m as a r e a s o n a b l e n e x t s t e p sentientism  without t r y i n g  to  extend  or. r e p l a c e  following  sentientism's  compassionate concern for experienced benefits and harms; rather, they try  to e x t e n d o u r outlook a n d b r o a d e n  sympathies. The latter  point echoes  the  scope  of o u r  moral  what was said above, and i t i s  important to remember. Neither Rolston nor Taylor attempt to make a finally  c o n c l u s i v e case  for  vitalism  by  showing that  their  recommendations are ' l o g i c a l l y ' o r ' r a t i o n a l l y ' i n c u m b e n t o n m o r a l agents. Instead, they offer a perspective which seeks to be persuasive without being inescapable. Because Rolston and Taylor offer arguments  which are similar at  important points (both appeal to teleology i n lieu of affect, and both argue that a l l l i v i n g organisms are of inherent value), I am going to t r a v e l relatively quickly t h r o u g h R o l s t o n ' s e x p o s i t i o n i n o r d e r to reach  his crucially  important claim t h a t the  inherent  v a l u e of  organisms i s a 'discoverable' feature of the natural world. This i s so controversial as to deprive Rolston's vitalism of the  broad  support  which other aspects of i t deserve, and Taylor's argument will then be addressed as a possible solution to the problem. ROLSTON'S VITALISM A Teleological Axiology Rolston  begins  with t h e  claim t h a t  all living  organisms  --  sentient and nonsentient — are "normative systems" yielding "values" of which moral agents may take account, and which are a part of the 2 world whether or not humans recognise or act upon them. this  may  seem  straightforward. Chapter Seven  a  puzzling  claim,  but  it  is  really  Initially, quite  Rolston notes that a l l organisms come with a DNA 144  encoded 'programme' specifying how they will grow and develop under c e r t a i n c o n d i t i o n s . The u n f o l d i n g of t h i s p r o g r a m m e i s h e l p e d b y favourable environmental features and hindered by unfavourable ones. Thus,  with r e g a r d  to  any  particular  organism, some  environmental  features have a positive 'value', and some have a negative according to how they  affect  the  'value',  organism. In t h i s -sense, Rolston  claims, l i v i n g o r g a n i s m s are a x i o l o g i c a l , a n d t h e v a l u e s w h i c h  are  generated  are  by their teleological organisation and a c t i v i t y  independent of human perceptions and judgements. R o l s t o n ' s p o i n t may be i l l u s t r a t e d u s i n g one of h i s  favourite  examples. Consider an oak sapling. The sapling's telos, as specified by i t s DNA, i s to grow into a mature tree and reproduce. Rolston i s claiming that: Environmental features,  i n c l u d i n g the actions of other  organisms, 3  can either help or hinder the tree as i t s genetic programme unfolds. The presence  of what helps the tree, and the absence of  what  hinders i t , are of value to the tree. The  tree's  establishes  natural,  a set  teleological functioning,  of v a l u e s  r e l a t i v e to  its  telos  therefore, within  its  environment. -  Moral a g e n t s may t a k e account of t h e s e v a l u e s t h r o u g h  their  actions; thus, acting 'on the tree's behalf'. Note a cautious disclaimer issued by Rolston: i n calling organisms 'normative', he does not mean that organisms are i n any sense 'moral' 4  systems.  Organisms pass no judgements, and they cannot do what i s  morally w r o n g . T e l e o l o g i c a l o r g a n i s a t i o n s i m p l y c o n f e r s  v a l u e on  various environmental features relative to what benefits or harms an Chapter Seven  145  organism from the perspective of i t s genetic agenda. A n U ncontro v e r s i a l Start So far, Rolston has said nothing untoward, or even controversial. He i s claiming that environmental features d e p e n d i n g on how t h e y  contribute  can be assigned a value  to the  genetically  governed  development of an organism, and that moral agents may then  take  practical account of those features. Even i f i t seems eccentric to use the term 'value' i n t h i s way, the eccentricity i s harmless because we can accept Rolston's usage without committing ourselves to anything 5  objectionable.  Furthermore, if it is thought  tendentious,  or  otherwise contentious, of me to gloss Rolston by saying that i t i s possible to act 'on a tree's behalf',  a l l I mean (for now) i s that  moral agents can choose to act i n ways which will benefit rather than harm or hinder a tree. I am not suggesting, i n any way, that the tree has c o n s c i o u s l y h e l d goals or p u r p o s e s ,  just that the tree  has  t e l e o l o g i c a l goals f o r moral a g e n t s t o t a k e a c c o u n t o f . I s h a l l , i n any case, say more about t h i s towards the end of the chapter. Organisms Themselves Have Inherent Value The controversial step i n Rolston's argument comes when he claims that there i s reason why moral agents should take account of what i s of value to other organisms when planning t h e i r actions. (And, t h u s , why a l l l i v i n g organisms warrant moral consideration.) Rolston writes: " A moral agent deciding his or her behaviour ought to take account of the consequences for other evaluative systems."*' But why? Rolston's answer i s that other evaluative systems their  own ' i n t r i n s i c '  or  'inherent'  value. And it is this  have latter  claim, rather than the assertion that the teleological organisation of Chapter Seven  146  an organism generates values relative to that organism, which i s the apparent ground of Rolston's vitalism. He i s not j u s t saying that an organism has goods consequent on i t s genetic programme; he i s saying that the realisation of what i s good for an organism i s , i n the nature of t h i n g s , inherently good. In other words, other things being equal, i t i s good that an organism should t h r i v e . Rolston also a s s e r t s t h a t t h e i n h e r e n t  v a l u e a n d g o o d n e s s of  organisms i s ' i n the  world', waiting to be discovered, much like the  instrumental  which the  values  n e e d s of o r g a n i s m s  g e n e r a t e . He  e x p l i c i t l y r e j e c t s a r e l a t i o n a l a c c o u n t of v a l u e ( w h e r e b y  value is  something moral agents ascribe to entities for reasons which can be a r g u e d about), p r e f e r r i n g to claim i n s t e a d t h a t "some v a l u e s  are 7  already there, discovered, not generated, by the  [human]  valuer".  Consequently, Rolston must now convince us not only that environmental features  and  e v e n t s have  a 'value'  relative  to  the  genetically  determined development of an organism they effect, but that we, too, g can discover the inherent value of the organisms themselves. Rolston's Primary Strategy Because Rolston b e l i e v e s t h a t i n h e r e n t  value is discovered i n  nature, he mainly attempts to do the job t h r o u g h evocative w r i t i n g . He offers a fascinating, often poetic description of nature, and he takes us on a journey i n which he points out the value which he finds there. What Rolston does not do (in the main) i s attempt to give us reasons to ascribe inherent value to l i v i n g organisms; instead, his 'argument' consists of i n v i t i n g us to share his perceptions. However, i f Rolston wishes to p e r s u a d e o t h e r s t o a b j u r e  the  r e l a t i o n a l account of value a n d follow h i s l e a d , t h e n i t w o u l d be Chapter Seven  147  helpful i f he said something about what i s wrong with the common, and seemingly common sense, relational view. As J . L . Mackie has pointed out, value would be a strange t h i n g i f i t was anything other than a relation between a valuer and something which i s valued. offers no obvious reason to t h i n k the simply r e j e c t s  i t , a n d offers  But Rolston  relational view incorrect. He  an a l t e r n a t i v e . ^ 1  T h i s means  that  Rolston's own h i g h l y personal views of value and nature are the final ground of his position. A n d , although I (personally) find  Rolston's  a d v o c a c y deeply m o v i n g , t h e r e seems l i t t l e p o i n t i n a t t e m p t i n g discuss or replicate i t here. Not only does i t s persuasive in  Rolston's own words, the  to  power lie  presupposition that values are  found,  r a t h e r t h a n a s c r i b e d , w i l l be v i e w e d as h i g h l y c o n t r o v e r s i a l b y contemporary philosophers and moral theorists. Given that t h i s enquiry seeks an account of moral scope with a broad claim to  understanding  and support, and given that humanists and sentientists  are  already  highly sceptical about the movement from ecology, t h i s e n q u i r y commit itself to seeking clear, firm  reasons for a s c r i b i n g  must  inherent  value to organisms. In sum, then, Rolston's primary argument i s that i f we allow him to guide us, we will be able to replicate his discovery of value and see that moral expansion i s eminently reasonable. But, for the reasons given, I am not going to attempt to follow that strategy  further.  Second S t r i n g s If the foundation of Rolston's position i s reached when he points to the value he finds i n the world and says Look!, then he has many will view as a profoundly unpersuasive  argument for  However, my reading i s that Rolston also offers  Chapter Seven  what  vitalism.  more l i t e r a l ,  direct  148  arguments as a supplement to evocation. Even i f Rolston t h i n k s that values are discovered rather than ascribed, his discussion i s relevant to a movement from interest predicated on a different view of value. In  a chapter  s u m m a r i s i n g his a x i o l o g y , R o l s t o n  describes  a  "parental environment" within which organisms have evolved and now live.  1 1  He argues (in effect)  make value attributions  that i f , as  moral agents,  within nature which are  we wish  disinterested,  to  non-  partisan, and 'rational', then we should not rely on our own ways of r e l a t i n g to o r g a n i s m s as a g u i d e t o t h e i r  value. Instead,  value  attributions should be based on what i s known about l i v i n g organisms i n themselves, and on what i s known about the 'parental' environment. In other words, i f moral agents seek a disinterested and appraisal of other  entities, they  consistent  must take t h e i r cues from  nature,  rather than from t h e i r own needs and preferences. Rolston also explains that aU l i v i n g organisms are what he calls 'natural  projects'  of the  parental  environment. A 'natural  project'  may be thought of as an organism brought forth by nature at a cost i n 12 e n e r g y a n d time.  Rolston a r g u e s t h a t t h e p a r e n t a l  environment  'values' these projects inherently i n that i t appears to produce them simply for t h e i r own sakes. He urges that moral agents who wish to value organisms i n accordance with what they find i n nature must do likewise and ascribe inherent value to a l l l i v i n g organisms. And Two Problems Two problems now await Rolston. F i r s t , even i f he can convince us to view l i v i n g o r g a n i s m s as ' n a t u r a l  projects  which are  valued  i n h e r e n t l y by t h e p a r e n t a l e n v i r o n m e n t ' , i t i s s t i l l n e c e s s a r y convince us that moral agents should guide t h e i r conduct by Chapter Seven  to this  149  vision.  It  is  insufficient  to  characterise  the  vision  as  disinterested or even rational. A sceptic remains free to object that such radical disinterest standards  has no place i n human  of rationality are  morality, and  that  ultimately l i n k e d to notions of what i s  good for humans (and, t h r o u g h t h e p r o c e s s of r a t i o n a l e x t e n s i o n offered by the movement from interest, for other sentient organisms). In order for the statement that a l l organisms have inherent value to be more than a form of words, there must be clearly  demonstrable  reason for people to value nonhuman organisms for non-instrumental reasons.  But what has Rolston offered?  Discoverable inherent  a s i d e , so f a r , he i s o f f e r i n g o n l y t h e  value  a p p e a l of a c t i n g on a  completely disinterested, non-partisan view of the totality of nature. But what i f , like the sceptic, moral agents generally are unmoved by t h i s attraction? Rolston needs to explain why acting on his view of n a t u r e i s i n c u m b e n t on moral a g e n t s i n d e p e n d e n t l y inclination. To the  best of my understanding,  of  personal  Rolston does  not  do  that. The s e c o n d problem a t t e n d s R o l s t o n ' s c l a i m t h a t t h e environment 'values' natural projects  parental  i n h e r e n t l y . How does  the  mindless, seemingly goal-free production of organisms exhibit valuing? Granted that organisms are produced at a cost i n energy and time, i t does not follow that the system which produces them, therefore, values them. A l l t e r r e s t r i a l creatures convert oxygen to carbon dioxide at a cost i n e n e r g y  a n d time; does i t follow  that they  value  carbon  dioxide? In claiming that the 'parental environment' values organisms, Rolston pushes  metaphor too far and threatens to  nature.  (or the  Nature  Chapter Seven  'parental  environment')  anthropomorphise  produces  organisms:  150  humankind values them or fails to. A T h i r d Argument So far, Rolston's position needs the support of reasons which his axiology does not clearly provide. However, there i s a further,  and  14 seemingly more direct, argument contained i n the following passage: Within the community of moral agents one has not merely to ask whether x i s a normative system, but, since the norms are at personal option, to judge the norm. But within the biotic community organisms are amoral normative s y s t e m s , a n d t h e r e a r e no cases where an organism seeks a good of i t s own t h a t i s morally r e p r e h e n s i b l e . The d i s t i n c t i o n between having a good of i t s k i n d and being a good k i n d v a n i s h e s , so f a r as a n y f a u l t i n g of t h e organism i s concerned. To t h i s extent, e v e r y t h i n g with a good of i t s k i n d i s a good k i n d and thereby has i n t r i n s i c value. But the last sentence of t h i s sequitur:  passage i s , apparently,  a logical non  to say that cats have a feline 'good' (in other  words,  a  good relative to cats) which they p u r s u e does not entail that cats are good i n themselves. How should we read t h i s argument? Is The A i d s V i r u s A Good Organism? I s h a l l s t a r t with an example w h i c h i l l u s t r a t e s t h e problems, then move to a more general understanding  argument's  of (what I t h i n k  are) t h e i r l o g i c a l r o o t s . Rolston w r i t e s ( P r o p o s i t i o n 1): " . . . w i t h i n the biotic community organisms are amoral normative systems, and there are no cases where an organism seeks a good of i t s own that i s morally reprehensible."  Certainly, the  blame i t for being destructive  AIDS v i r u s i s amoral, and as i t fulfills  we cannot  i t s telos; therefore,  we  can agree when Rolston says that i t seeks a good of i t s own which i s not  morally  reprehensible.  Rolston continues  (Proposition  2):  "The  distinction between having a good of i t s k i n d and being a good k i n d vanishes, so far as any faulting of the organism i s concerned." Chapter Seven  For 151  the  AIDS v i r u s , t h i s  good i s presumably  to  prosper  and  replicate  within i t s host, and so an AIDS v i r u s which acts towards t h i s end i s a good ( k i n d of) o r g a n i s m . T h i s may seem o d d , a n d t h e  sense that  something i s a w r y g r o w s when R o l s t o n c o n c l u d e s ( P r o p o s i t i o n 3): "...everything with a good of i t s k i n d i s a good k i n d and thereby intrinsic  value." Disease  carrying  viruses  are,  generally  has  speaking,  nasty t h i n g s to have around, and, on an everyday assessment, the AIDS v i r u s i s more likely to be judged unequivocally bad. However, R o l s t o n s e e k s to o v e r c o m e o u r r e l u c t a n c e t o  accept  Proposition 3 by i n v o k i n g a novel moral outlook, a broad 'ecological perspective',  w h i c h i s t h e view f r o m t h e  mentioned above. It i s essentially the  'parental  environment'  view that nature itself  might  take of constituent organisms were i t somehow possessed of a single mind. Rolston grants that organisms which cause disease may initially appear bad from an everyday moral perspective, or from the perspective of some particular organism, but he defends t h e i r inherent goodness by claiming t h a t , " i f we e n l a r g e t h e p e r s p e c t i v e i t t y p i c a l l y difficult  to say t h a t any s p e c i e s  is a bad  kind  becomes  overall in  the  15 ecosystem." Rolston Is Equivocating But t h i s does not put Rolston's argument  r i g h t . F i r s t , i t i s not  inconceivable that an organism might be judged bad even from the ecological  perspective.  Imagine  a  giant  killer  cockroach  which  threatens to destroy e v e r y t h i n g else on earth before d y i n g itself from s t a r v a t i o n . Is t h i s not a ' b a d ' o r g a n i s m ? If so, a n d i f cockroaches s t i l l have a good of t h e i r  k i n d , then  giant  Proposition 2 i s  false. Chapter Seven  152  Second, Proposition 1 does not entail Proposition 3 whatever i s claimed for the ecological perspective.  Proposition 1 asserts that an  organism like a giant cockroach i s not morally reprehensible because i t i s amoral. B u t i f i t i s , t h e r e f o r e , i n a p p r o p r i a t e  to  pass  moral  judgement on the cockroach, then i t cannot be consistently claimed, i n Proposition 3, that the cockroach belongs to a 'good k i n d ' . A l l that can be said i n conclusion i s that the cockroach belongs to a morally neutral k i n d . Alternately, i f the cockroach can be judged according to some (ecological?)  perspective  i n Proposition 3, then the  c a n also be f o u n d ' m o r a l l y r e p r e h e n s i b l e ' perspective  in  Proposition  between different  1.  Thus,  cockroach  a c c o r d i n g to the  Rolston's  argument  same  equivocates  evaluative c r i t e r i a i n going from Proposition 1 to  3. This equivocation may be understood  as r e q u i r i n g us to attribute  two different senses of 'good' to Proposition 2. When we say t h a t an organism i s "a good of i t s k i n d " , we are  making a morally  neutral  judgment; when we say that an organism i s of " a good k i n d " , we are making a moral judgement. Shorn of t h i s e r r o r , conclusion that organisms  Rolston's argument no longer supports  the  have i n t r i n s i c value. At best, i t can  be  claimed that most organisms are morally neutral. It will then be up to subsequent human judgement to colour a particular organism good or bad, or simply to acknowledge that, for moral purposes, the i s s t r i c t l y neither. This i s a k i n to the  point made earlier  was suggested that i t i s nature which produces organisms,  organism when  it  but i t i s  humans who accord them value. Thus, i n general  (and the  point  bears repetition),  although  l i v i n g organisms may have goods of t h e i r own, and although  Chapter Seven  all  we may  153  agree that none of these goods are morally reprehensible, i t does not follow that a l l l i v i n g  organisms are  good i n themselves  (and  have  i n t r i n s i c value). Furthermore i t seems unduly anthropocentric — and, t h e r e f o r e , i n c o n g r u o u s with e c o s o p h i s m ' s move away from  human  centredness — to paint the universe i n b r i g h t moral colours when we could have an initially neutral view less obscured by human concerns and i n t e r e s t s . ^ 1  A Vehicle Inadequate To Our Needs As matters stand now, Rolston's eschewal of the relational account of  value, his failure to provide clear reasons  value all living  organisms, and the  d e s c r i b e d , make h i s v i t a l i s m h o s t a g e  to  for moral agents to  logical  difficulties  just  sceptical criticism. His  arguments are, therefore, unlikely vehicles for f e r r y i n g us across the mattering gap. Even so, there i s beauty  and power i n Rolston's search for a  radically new k i n d of moral vision which should be acknowledged and which I cannot do justice to here. When Rolston argues that, as moral agents, we should attempt a less anthropocentric perspective, t a k i n g some of our moral cues from nature while paying less attention to our own immediate interests, Rolston i s saying what ecosophists generally believe. Somehow — and as yet i t i s certainly not clear why — there i s an i n t u i t i v e rightness about the claim that human dealings with the nonhuman world should be informed by the sense that i t has value i n itself, not j u s t as a means to human ends. Perhaps Taylor can b u i l d an •i  argument which meets the need. He i s more explicit than Rolston when handling the metaphysical and logical problems which seem to r e s u l t from basing moral change i n ecology.  Chapter Seven  154  TAYLOR'S VITALISM P a r t i n g Company With Rolston L i k e R o l s t o n , C h a r l e s W. T a y l o r a r g u e s t h a t b e c a u s e a l l l i v i n g organisms are teleological, they a l l have inherent goals towards which they may be helped or hindered by events. Thus, a l l l i v i n g organisms 17 are t h i n g s on whose behalf i t i s possible to act. T a y l o r claims t h a t l i v i n g t h i n g s , a n d t h e i r value; however, Taylor's strategy i n s i s t s that inherent  Also like Rolston,  goals, have  inherent  separates from Rolston's when  value i s ascribed and  not  he  discovered. Taylor  asks us to "keep i n mind that inherent worth i s not some mysterious s o r t of o b j e c t i v e p r o p e r t y . . . t h a t  c a n be d i s c o v e r e d b y  empirical  observation". Rather, claiming inherent value for something  requires 18  g i v i n g "good reasons for a s c r i b i n g that k i n d of value to i t " , the task  Taylor sets himself i s to enunciate  reasons  and  for ascribing  equivalent inherent value to each l i v i n g organism. The S t r u c t u r e of Taylor's Argument T a y l o r ' s argument  has t h r e e main c o m p o n e n t s , a " b i o c e n t r i c  outlook" which informs and encourages a "fundamental attitude" towards the nonhuman world and, i n t u r n , provides reason to ascribe equal "inherent  worth" to  a l l organisms. Taylor  describes  the  biocentric  outlook as a "belief system" which i s "internally coherent and 19 ordered" and "consistent with a l l known scientific t r u t h s " . plain that t h i s belief  system i s not intended to be  well  He makes  mandatory  for  ' r a t i o n a l ' agents, i n t h e way t h a t b e l i e f i n t h e c a p a b i l i t i e s of my word processor might be: Taylor states that he cannot charge those who reject the belief system with either a failure to ignore evidence or with s t r i c t inconsistency. Taylor Chapter Seven  also notes that he cannot  justify 155  the fundamental attitude which the belief system supports by r e f e r r i n g 20 to "a more general attitude or a more basic normative principle." Thus, the  ascription of inherent  fundamental attitude  value to organisms depends  on a  which i s entirely supported, but not compelled,  by the belief system known as the 'biocentric outlook'. Corresponding to these three components, Taylor's argument  moves towards  moral  expansion i n three steps. Step One: The Biocentric Outlook Step one presents the ecological belief system which Taylor calls the "biocentric outlook". It i s the least controversial feature  of his  argument, and i t i s similar to (but more literally described than)  the  ecological  the  perspective  which  Rolston  recommends.  It  comprises  following perceptions: A l l l i v i n g o r g a n i s m s are  p a r t s of a n i n t e r c o n n e c t e d  web of  ecological relationships. Each and every organism depends for i t s well b e i n g on o t h e r dependency.  p a r t s of t h i s  web e s t a b l i s h i n g a n e t w o r k o f  21  -  Within the network, each organism i s a teleological system p u r s u i n g 22 'goods' of i t s own. From an ecological perspective, there are no discernible c r i t e r i a according to which any particular organism i s of more importance or 'value* than others.  This fundamental  ecological equality extends  to  humans: to emphasise the point, Taylor reminds us that humans are j u s t one relatively new k i n d of organism amongst many, and could be removed 23 from the biotic community without harming much else. In sum, the  biocentric outlook posits that, j u s t  as  a l l humans  have equivalent importance from a disinterested moral perspective, so Chapter Seven  156  all l i v i n g organisms have equivalent importance from a  disinterested,  biocentric perspective. One need not be an ecologist to find t h i s view familiar; i t i s becoming a c l i c h e of p o p u l a r c u l t u r e . B u t i s i t a c l i c h e we s h o u l d accept? Of t h e b i o c e n t r i c outlook, t h e reservations  perceptions  first two are  which comprise  hardly  deniable.  the  A n d any  concerning Taylor's final claim will be held over  until  24 his position i s fully sketched. Step Two: The Fundamental Attitude The next step i n Taylor's argument biocentric outlook, a certain  i s to urge that, given the  normative, 'fundamental',  attitude  is a  reasonable consequence. The attitude may be characterised as profound ecological humility, and i t involves what Taylor calls the human  s u p e r i o r i t y " . I n essence,  w i l l i n g n e s s to  be  guided i n our  b i o c e n t r i c o u t l o o k . A l t h o u g h the involve only a 'detached', world i s (an i n t e r e s t i n g consequence  the  fundamental  decisions  and  "denial of  attitude actions  o u t l o o k may i n i t i a l l y  by  but  a  the  appear  ' s c i e n t i f i c ' a s s e s s m e n t of t h e intellectual construct,  is  way  to the  of s m a l l  to our immediate concerns), Taylor has no intention of  leaving matters there. He urges that we make the outlook a part of those everyday beliefs which inform our behaviour; thus, granting the biocentric outlook normative force. (The question, Why should we do t h i s ? , w i l l be r a i s e d as soon as  we h a v e  a complete  o u t l i n e of  Taylor's argument.) Step Three: Equality Of Value Step t h r e e a r g u e s that the fundamental  attitude  makes  it  reasonable to ascribe equal inherent value to the realisation of each l i v i n g organism's particular good. Taylor begins by u r g i n g t h a t i f a l l Chapter Seven  157  l i v i n g organisms are equally important, then no organism pursues  a  good which i s more significant than that of any other. In consequence, it is reasonable  to a s c r i b e e q u i v a l e n t i n h e r e n t  value to  the  25 realisation of the goods of aU l i v i n g organisms.  Unless, of course,  there are other considerations to take account of. With s u c h a possibility i n view, Taylor notes that although the denial of human s u p e r i o r i t y and the fundamental attitude basis for claiming that humans, or any other creature, w h i c h are of g r e a t e r  inherent value than those  offer  have  of o t h e r  no  goods living  o r g a n i s m s , t h e r e remain well a c c e p t e d c r i t e r i a a c c o r d i n g to w h i c h humans do have s p e c i a l merit: human ' r a t i o n a l i t y ' i s a n o b v i o u s 26 example.  However, Taylor  urges  that  c r i t e r i a like  rationality  are  inadmissable — at least at the level of i n i t i a l value attributions — because they are already informed by a uniquely human concept of value. If and when invoked, s u c h c r i t e r i a automatically accord humans special significance; thus, they elevate human worth and beg  the  question what inherent value different entities have. As Taylor  puts  it:  2 7  To use...standards based on human values i s already to commit oneself to h o l d i n g t h a t h u m a n s a r e s u p e r i o r to nonhumans, w h i c h i s t h e p o i n t i n question. A Large B u r d e n Of Proof Thus, Taylor reaches the deeply controversial conclusion that the r e a l i s a t i o n of each o r g a n i s m ' s g o o d s h o u l d be a s c r i b e d t h e  same  inherent value. For moral purposes, you, and I, and a cockroach a l l s t a r t out equal. It seems fair to say that t h i s egalitarianism i s a radical departure from received moral t h i n k i n g and requires a major s h i f t i n moral emphasis, r a t h e r t h a n d e v e l o p i n g o r e x t r a p o l a t i n g Chapter Seven  158  tendencies or traditions already found there.  In consequence, Taylor  has a considerable burden of proof to support, and there i s reason to t h i n k his argument inadequate to the s t r a i n . A Deeper Similarity To Rolston's Position Note that one may accept the  biocentric outlook  while  s t e p s two and t h r e e of T a y l o r ' s a r g u m e n t b e c a u s e t h e  refusing  biocentric  outlook i s morally neutral and has no normative force. A l l the outlook claims is that every  l i v i n g t h i n g ' p u r s u e s ' i t s own good, and  that  ecology offers no basis for saying that the good of one t h i n g i s more significant than the good of another. But t h i s i s consistent conclusion that nothing  has i n h e r e n t  v a l u e as  w e l l as  with the with  the  conclusion that e v e r y t h i n g does. It i s only when (and if) we embrace the normative attitude introduced at step two, and grant (some) moral s i g n i f i c a n c e to an e c o l o g i c a l p e r s p e c t i v e ,  that Taylor's argument  moves to i t s conclusion. Thus, i n at least one other important aspect, Taylor's argument i s similar to Rolston's. Like Rolston, Taylor wants to i n v e s t a seemingly s c i e n t i f i c a n d morally n e u t r a l d e s c r i p t i o n of t h e  world with moral  significance. But why should we do that, rather than i n s i s t i n g that m o r a l i t y , w h i c h i s a human a r t i f a c t s o u r c e s of value i n human  and  has  i t s own  (and, p o s s i b l y , s e n t i e n t  traditional welfare)  is  something distinct and separate? In other words (and, again, the point bears repetition),  'nature' and ecology are  morally neutral,  and  we  need to be shown why human morality should, i n any way, take i t s lead from them. Taylor's argument works by granting moral force to what i s , initially, a morally neutral  description  of the  world, and i t i s  fair  to seek reasons for allying morality to that description, particularly  Chapter Seven  159  i n view of the consequences Taylor pursues. A n Exercise I n Attitude Adjustment To the best of my understanding, Taylor does not do t h i s . Although he ably describes the k i n d of attitude he wants us to adopt, he does not provide clear reason  why we should adopt i t . Instead,  simply advocates that we make the  biocentric outlook "part  Taylor of the  conceptual framework t h r o u g h which we understand and perceive the world", and he claims that we will then "develop the disposition to view the  world" from the standpoint of other organisms, to ascribe 30  inherent value to them, and to take account of t h e i r good. T h i s i s a k i n t o an e x e r c i s e i n m e d i t a t i o n . S e e m i n g l y m o r a l l y n e u t r a l , • s c i e n t i f i c ' , claims a b o u t t h e w o r l d a r e a d o p t e d , a n d  the  world i s viewed i n l i g h t of them. Attitudes and values then begin to change and to harmonise with the originally 'neutral' perceptions. The process may well work, But why should we indulge it? Humanists and sentientists who want to i n s e r t a wedge between the two ends of the process can fairly i n s i s t that Taylor provide reasons. A n d Taylor only says that the process will become reasonable once we begin i t . Pragmatic Considerations Personally, i t seems obvious that vitalism — like the  movement  from ecology i n general — i s motivated by the sense of environmental c r i s i s hovering over late 20th century thought, and that t h i s has much to do with why vitalism appears so reasonable to i t s proponents. Given the damage human action i s causing, i t i s reasonable to reach for a new  moral vision, and i t i s reasonable to t h i n k that i f we are guided  more by what we f i n d i n nature, we will do less harm. However, neither Goodpaster, Rolston, nor Taylor make t h i s pragmatic concern explicit, Chapter Seven  160  and i t i s not a possibility I want to explore u n t i l the  s u r v e y of  c u r r e n t accounts of moral scope i s complete. There i s more to learn from the c u r r e n t approach to vitalism, and there i s ecosophism yet to consider. AN UNACKNOWLEDGED COHERENCE WITH TRADITION Can One ' A c t On Behalf Of* Nonsentient Organisms? So far, Rolston and Taylor have been credited with the view that moral agents can 'act on behalf o f nonsentient organisms, and I have presented  t h i s as an accurate  view. (The problem, I have s a i d , i s  f u r n i s h i n g good reasons to do so.) However, that may be disputed. As noted earlier, there i s 'something i t i s l i k e ' to be a creature  with a  psychology which provides an alternative point of view for a moral agent to identify  with. Thus, we can listen to a h u n g r y  cat  and  understand that there i s a world from her perspective. We can then take that perspective into account when making decisions, and act i n t h e c a t ' s p s y c h o l o g i c a l l y based i n t e r e s t s . B u t ( i n N a g e l ' s  phrase)  there i s nothing i t i s like to be a tree. In consequence, i t may be argued that whereas sentientism can i n v i t e us to use imagination and empathy to put ourselves i n place of a cat, and ask us to act on her behalf, no amount of imagination can put us i n place of a tree, or provide a 'behalf' to act upon. To counter t h i s view, I shall close the p r e s e n t c h a p t e r b y d e s c r i b i n g a n d d i s c u s s i n g t h e  similarity  between a l l l i v i n g organisms. Please bear i n mind that what follows i s not intended i n any way as an argument for t h i n k i n g that moral agents should act on behalf of nonsentient, organisms: i t i s not offered an argument for moral expansion. Rather, i t i s a further  as  attempt to  show that, were there adequate reason for moral expansion beyond  Chapter Seven  161  sentientism,  vitalism  (at  least)  would  not  be  so s t r a n g e  as  sentientists imagine. ' T h i n k i n g L i k e A Tree' To s t a r t with the claim that we can act on a t r e e ' s behalf, a tree — as both Rolston and Taylor point out — i s a dynamic, teleological organism, s t r u g g l i n g to live and reproduce. In common with a l l l i v i n g organisms, a tree's responses to i t s e n v i r o n m e n t  s p r i n g from a  g e n e t i c a l l y determined t e l o s , a n d t h e t r e e has c l e a r n e e d s . T h u s , although the tree experiences interpreted  nothing, events i n the  world can  i n t e r m s of t h e i r s i g n i f i c a n c e f o r a t r e e a n d  be its  t e l e o l o g i c a l development. I n c o n s e q u e n c e , j u s t as i t i s p o s s i b l e t o act on a cat's behalf, because the cat has goals and can be helped or h i n d e r e d i n a c h i e v i n g them, so i t i s p o s s i b l e t o a c t o n a t r e e ' s behalf. Note, too, t h a t t h i s r e l a t i v e l y u n e m o t i o n a l c a l c u l a t i o n of what will benefit a t r e e i s a l r e a d y t h e  way i n w h i c h a s e n s i b l e ,  c o n c e r n e d s e n t i e n t i s t often t a k e s a c c o u n t of s e n t i e n t  nonhumans.  Although imagination and empathy have t h e i r place, they can also be an unreliable guide to what actually benefits a nonhuman. A Source of Commonality But there i s more to the issue than t h i s . Teleology entails that there  is  a  generally  sentientist,  and  unregarded  vitalist  i n d i v i d u a l s , which contrasts  similarity  concern  for  between  humanist,  goal-oriented,  living  markedly with ecosophism's concern for  systems and n o n - l i v i n g t h i n g s . These similarities make c r o s s i n g  the  mattering gap less strange, even i f (as the Goodpaster-Sumner debate has shown) vitalists cannot appeal to a shared notion of  Chapter Seven  'interests'.  162  Furthermore, although i t may be thought eccentric or controversial to say so, I find that some degree of imaginative identification with a tree's teleological struggle i s possible without anthropomorphising a tree, or resorting to  metaphor,  because  of the  similarities between  all l i v i n g organisms. The Similarity Between Organisms Suppose that, i n the manner of a c h i l d r e n ' s story, we t e l l a tale 31 c a l l e d ' T h e L i f e Of A T r e e ' .  T h e s t o r y i s g o i n g to h a v e  many  s i m i l a r i t i e s to the  of a n y  earth  precisely  story  where there are  nonliving entity  told  other  dissimilarities from  we are yet f a m i l i a r  organism a story  on  told  of any  with. Trees, like cats,  may  either grow from parental seeds by sexual cellular combination and division, or, like more simple organisms, from offshoots produced by asexual cellular division. They do so according to a genetic blueprint contained within each cell, and by using fuel and materials actively sought from the environment. Conditions are favourable or unfavourable to t h e i r growth. Other organisms help or hinder them. Eventually, i f c o n d i t i o n s are s u f f i c i e n t l y  favourable, a tree, like all other  organisms, reproduces i n a manner which transfers a l l , or some of i t s genetic  plan to a separate, similar entity. In time, and again  all other  organisms, a tree's a b i l i t y  to  replicate  its  like  own c e l l s  atrophies, and i t dies. Personally, I find t h i s means not only can I take account of a tree's goals and tendencies of development, I can also empathise  with  the tree's struggle to live and f l o u r i s h . As noted above, t h i s may seem  eccentric  or  controversial, but  I think  many  gardeners,  s i l v i c u l t u r a l i s t s , and environmentalists will know exactly what Chapter Seven  163  I  mean. Although a tree has no l i t e r a l perspective on the world, and no 'sake' of i t s own i n any psychological sense, i t i s possible to  'feel'  the sap flowing, the leaves b u d d i n g , and the branches reaching to the l i g h t . A tree or a plant i s enough like us to permit some degree of identification  a n d f e l l o w f e e l i n g . Of c o u r s e , i n i t s e l f  this  insufficient reason to grant moral standing to trees and plants alone e n f r a n c h i s e  all nonsentient  organisms),  but  vitalism less odd. Were there good reason to embrace empathetic  perspective  would be a useful adjunct  it  does  is (let  make  vitalism, t h i s  to the biocentric  outlook. The Objection From Choo-Choo T r a i n s In response  to a l l t h i s , i t may be said that i t i s possible to  t e l l the same k i n d of anthropomorphising c h i l d r e n ' s tale about almost 32 any entity, even a 'choo choo t r a i n ' , as one c r i t i c has claimed.  But  a tale about a t r a i n must lean h e a v i l y o n m e t a p h o r , a n d i t  does  anthropomorphise, whereas what I have said about the tree i s literally t r u e . Non-living entities do not grow by cellular division; they  do  not seek nutrients and energy from t h e i r environment and use them to build cells; they do not c a r r y multiple copies of t h e i r own blueprints which are passed on to sexually, or asexually, created offspring; they do not  die i n t h e  literal  sense t h a t  their  ability  to  replicate  themselves, cell by cell, i s lost. T h u s , not o n l y i s i t p o s s i b l e to act on behalf of any l i v i n g organism, i n the  sense of acting i n a  manner congruent with i t s interests (in a broad enough sense) and i t s teleologically determined needs, there are similarities between  living  o r g a n i s m s , whatever t h e i r degree of c o m p l e x i t y , w h e r e t h e r e  are  dissimilarities to n o n - l i v i n g entities. Chapter Seven  164  The extent of t h i s similarity and dissimilarity can be i l l u s t r a t e d by imagining that the t r a i n and the tree are both abandoned i n your garden. You leave them there, and the t r a i n slowly rots; i t i s acted upon by i t s environment, but i t never responds. The tree struggles to put roots into the ground and place leaves i n a position where they catch the s u n . The tree may succeed, t h u s growing, and establishing a cluster of trees around and t h r o u g h the collapsing t r a i n . The tree i s active and teleological. This is Rolston's point  when he  insists:  33 "Nothing matters to a tree but much i s v i t a l . " The c r i t i c may now point out that the t r a i n s t i l l rotting on my lawn could have been substantially benefited by my actions. I could have kept the t r a i n painted, lubricated, and generally i n good r u n n i n g o r d e r . T r u e . There i s no q u e s t i o n t h a t n o n - l i v i n g e n t i t i e s c a n be benefited or harmed by human actions. Just about anything i n the realm of A u s t i n ' s 'medium size d r y goods' can be benefited or harmed by human actions: a l l that i s necessary  i s that  we be able to  affect  them, and that we have some c r i t e r i o n for distinguishing positive from negative changes. This i s the realisation informing Sumner's fear that a  concern  for  affect-free  interests  is  a  potential  juggernaut.  However, j u s t as the point was not really germane when Sumner raised i t , so i t i s not the point i n question here. I am t r y i n g to show that vitalist concerns  are  similar, i n some  ways, to sentientist  ones.  It  i s i r r e l e v a n t that j u s t about any entity can be benefited and harmed, because what l i n k s a l l l i v i n g entities i s more than the mere capacity for benefit and harm. How To Stop A Juggernaut What may make humanists and sentientists more comfortable about my Chapter Seven  165  claim i s a way of s p e l l i n g out t h e  similarity  between  all living  organisms which will also explain why t r a i n s are not likely candidates 34 for  moral consideration, at least on vitalist grounds.  In l i g h t of  what has been said about teleology, t h i s can now be readily  done  because, unlike a tree, a t r a i n does not have goals and tendencies of development which s p r i n g from the t r a i n itself. In so far as a t r a i n has a goal, i t i s t h e c o n s e q u e n c e manufactured  the t r a i n to fulfill.  of the  purpose  which  Thus, a t r a i n offers  only  h a n d human p u r p o s e s to act on b e h a l f of. By c o n t r a s t , 35 teleology i s utterly independent behalf  of human a c t i v i t y .  of a t r a i n , we a r e , t h e r e f o r e ,  humans second  a tree's  In acting 'on  a c t i n g o n b e h a l f e i t h e r of  humankind i n general or of certain particular humans. But i n acting on behalf  of a t r e e  we a r e  t a k i n g the  teleological entity, which i s i n the  part  of an  independent,  world independently  of  humans  and, aside from nuances of hybridisation and s i l v i c u l t u r e , i s the way i t i s independently of humans. In  other  words, a t r a i n i s a human  project.  But a tree i s a  'natural project' (to use Rolston's phrase) i n j u s t the same way as a t i g e r . The point of vitalism i s to offer reason for enfranchising a l l 36 l i v i n g , natural projects. Human projects are another issue entirely. A Common Need F o r More Support Of course, the question s t i l l remains whether there are persausive reasons for acting on behalf of nonsentient natural projects, and, for now,  we lack them. As described earlier, Rolston's argument r e q u i r e s a  seemingly fundamental account of inherent value which many will find puzzling and objectionable. Taylor grounds  his account of  inherent  value i n the biocentric outlook, but that, too, i s fundamental to his Chapter Seven 166  position while being open to doubt. Both fundamental assumptions can be described, and recommended, but because they are at the ground l e v e l of v i t a l i s m (so t o s p e a k ) , t h e y  are  unsupported  principles or premises, and i t i s hard to know how they  by  other  might be  argued for without question-begging. A t the same time, i t does seem reasonable to require independent support for something which yields such serious consequences. Thus, t h i s chapter i n the debate between vitalism and i t s c r i t i c s e n d s i n an impasse similar to t h e  one  u t i l i t a r i a n s e n t i e n t i s m s were r e j e c t e d  we f a c e d  when a l l t h r e e  by humanism. Vitalism  and  sentientism are i n the same boat i n being convincing only so long as we a c c e p t a p a r t i c u l a r , f u n d a m e n t a l c o n c e p t i o n o f n o r m a t i v e significance. However, i n the case of sentientism, i t was argued that t h i s need could be met by offering an account of morality's function supportive of sentientist goals. Vitalism, too, could reasonably to s a t i s f y c r i t i c s b y o f f e r i n g  hope  an a c c o u n t of m o r a l i t y ' s f u n c t i o n  s h o w i n g why morality s h o u l d be a l l i e d  with a broadly ecological  37 perspective.  A n d , as noted earlier, the obvious source of support i s  the environmental concern which motivates vitalism. But how should t h i s be made part of a compelling account of morality's function which will justify  m o r a l e x p a n s i o n ? So f a r , t h e l i t e r a t u r e o f f e r s  no  suggestions, and (also as noted earlier) I want to explore ecosophism before attempting to sketch a possible answer.  Chapter Seven  167  Chapter E i g h t ECOSOPHISM  Even though the arguments  for  vitalism  may seem radical  and  controversial enough i n themselves, the contemporary t h r u s t for moral expansion  still  has  considerable energy.  Beyond  vitalism, lie  those  arguments classified as 'ecosophist', arguments designed to extend the moral franchise to species, ecosystems, and even n o n - l i v i n g  natural  entities like mountains. Two different forms of ecosophism will be our primary concern. The f i r s t i s based on Rolston's development of a position going well beyond the case for vitalism previously discussed. The second i s commonly known as 'deep ecology', although Warwick Fox has r e c e n t l y a r g u e d t h a t t h e p o s i t i o n w o u l d be b e t t e r 'transpersonal e c o l o g y ' .  designated  1  Note that ecosophism will be not explored i n enough  depth  to  provide a complete or historical s u r v e y of i t s claims. My purpose i s o n l y to t r y to show t h a t , l i k e v i t a l i s t , and e v e n arguments,  current  ecosophism i s open to criticisms  sentientist, which i t  only  partially answers; consequently, debate between e c o s o p h i s t s  and  conservative c r i t i c s q u i c k l y tends towards an impasse. Note, too, that as discussed earlier, developing a generous, but broadly acceptable, answer to the i n i t i a l question involves showing reasons for expansion w h i c h speak  to t h e  more c o n s e r v a t i v e  v i e w s of  morality. This  c o n c l u d i n g c h a p t e r of e x p l o r a t i o n w i l l e s t a b l i s h t h a t a p a u c i t y of such reasons i s a general weakness of the movements for expansion; i t will then be timely (in Part Four) to review what the movements from i n t e r e s t a n d ecology have d e m o n s t r a t e d , a n d t o b e g i n s e e k i n g a n alternative strategy.  Chapter Eight  168  ECOSOPHISM BY STAGES A Familiar Strategy Rolston's argument for ecosophism develops i n stages reminiscent of S i n g e r ' s e x p a n d i n g c i r c l e . T h e f i r s t s t a g e i s t h e a r g u m e n t vitalism which has already  been  discussed. It featured  claims: F i r s t , a l l l i v i n g o r g a n i s m s  are  for  two c e n t r a l  teleological entities  with  goods of t h e i r own which a moral agent can act to promote or hinder. Second, a l l l i v i n g organisms have an inherent value. As discussed i n the last chapter,  Rolston  writes as t h o u g h  these are  relatively  independent 'co-premises' of vitalism d u r i n g the expository stages of his argument,  but, elsewhere,  he s e e m s t o w i s h t o l i n k  them  deductively. I shall not re-open the issue here. With v i t a l i s m as h i s b a s i s , R o l s t o n now goes f u r t h e r , moral s t a n d i n g f o r s p e c i e s , e c o s y s t e m s ,  and, finally,  claiming  non-living  e n t i t i e s . He does not q u i t e claim t h a t t h e s e a r e a l s o t e l e o l o g i c a l , but he does make the analogous claim that they have "headings" which 2 moral agents can promote or hinder.  Rolston also proposes a second  k i n d of noninstrumental value, "systemic value", i n order to provide reason for moral agents to act i n support  of naturally  established  headings.^ Initial Reservations: 'Headings' The f i r s t t h i n g to note about a 'heading' i s that i t i s certainly not the genetically determined telos which figures i n the argument for v i t a l i s m . Rolston d e s c r i b e s i t as what a n o n - t e l e o l o g i c a l , b u t  still  dynamic system tends to do over time. For example, he claims that species  have a heading towards  reproductive  success  within  environment, and that successful species have a heading Chapter Eight  their  towards 169  stability.  Sharks, which have been evolutionarily stable for  millions  of years, provide a good example of both these headings. Ecosystems, according to Rolston, have a heading towards d i v e r s i t y and s t a b i l i t y , and old growth forest  would appear to provide an example of t h i s  heading.^ However, despite these examples there i s reason to be sceptical about the 'headings'  which Rolston identifies because alternatives  so r e a d i l y a v a i l a b l e . Cosmology, f o r e x a m p l e , s u g g e s t s t h a t  are  entire  worlds and solar systems have a 'heading' towards final destruction, a collapse i n t o i n o r g a n i c s i m p l i c i t y apparently,  pervades  and  entropic  a l l a s p e c t s of n a t u r e .  stability  Another  which,  alternative  heading i s offered by the tendency of any one species to expand at the expense of o t h e r l i f e - f o r m s . G r a n t e d , o u t r u n n i n g t h e f o o d s u p p l y usually acts as a check on numbers, but humankind — at least — has succeeded so far at colonising the ecosystem. Perhaps there i s also a heading  towards  successful  an ecosystem  species,  completely dominated  with a r e d u c e d  number  p r e s e r v e d b y i t for i t s own p u r p o s e s .  by one highly  of o t h e r  life  forms  T h u s , i t w o u l d seem  that,  without a lot more being said, no particular heading can be offered as a guide to morally r i g h t a c t i o n .  6  Initial Reservations: 'Systemic Value' The notion of 'systemic value' i s also problematic. According Rolston, 'systemic value' i s the value possessed  to  by a system,  p r o c e s s , which (1) g e n e r a t e s e n t i t i e s w i t h i n h e r e n t v a l u e , (2)  or has  other than merely instrumental value, and (3) does not have inherent value. For example, Rolston claims that an ecosystem  has  systemic  value. A n ecosystem meets the f i r s t two positive c r i t e r i a because i t  Chapter Eight  170  generates entities  which have  inherent  value, and it is  not  i n s t r u m e n t a l to any goal. It meets t h e t h i r d , n e g a t i v e c r i t e r i o n , because, on R o l s t o n ' s d e f i n i t i o n , t h e s y s t e m i t s e l f  does n o t  have 7  inherent value. This i s because the system has no value for itself. By saying that an ecosystem does not have value for itself, Rolston means that an ecosystem i s not a teleological entity with goals of i t s own  which i t acts to defend and further. (Remember that, for Rolston,  inherently valuable entities are ones which actively 'seek' t h e i r own goods, and Rolston claims that ecosystems  do not do this.) Rolston  contrasts an ecosystem with a b i r d . A b i r d acts so as to ensure its s u r v i v a l ; therefore,  a b i r d has value for itself, and, thus,  inherent  value. An ecosystem, according to Rolston, does not do t h i s , and does not have value for itself. Those of us who take a relational view of value, and who do not s u b s c r i b e to R o l s t o n ' s claim t h a t i n h e r e n t v a l u e i s a d i s c o v e r a b l e quality  possessed  by  distinguish 'inherent' for  what they  entities,  will  find  little reason,  here,  to  from 'systemic' value. Entities which we value  are i n themselves  will a l l be classed as  'inherently  v a l u a b l e ' a n d , l i k e R o l s t o n ' s n o n - r e l a t i o n a l a c c o u n t of v a l u e , t h i s new notion 'systemic value' will be found unhelpful. A T h i r d Element: 'Projective Nature' There i s a t h i r d element to R o l s t o n ' s a r g u m e n t .  He  discusses  something called 'projective nature* which he portrays as a scene of restlessness and change, construction and decay. Nature i s " f u l l of projects", he says.  As an example, Rolston describes the condensation  of gases into planets, the subsequent geological and geomorphological forces which shape and re-shape them, and what we apparently know of  Chapter Eight  171  eventual planetary  destruction. Rolston  points out that  science  discovers no point or purpose i n t h i s k i n d of activity, no goals and no teleology. However, viewed across time, he says, we find not only change but increasing complexity and variety i n nature. We know that inorganic projects have been joined by organic ones as once  bare  mountains and empty seas became a home for life.  Life-forms  then  physically  and  Awareness and  self  speciated,  and i n d i v i d u a l  psychologically  organisms  grew  more  complex. Ecosystems stabilized.  awareness evolved. With t h i s panorama before us, Rolston suggests that we already have reason to take account of more than the i n d i v i d u a l l i v i n g entities enfranchised by v i t a l i s m . "What i s an  appropriate  o  attitude toward s u c h a projective system?", he asks. But Why Does Projective Nature Warrant Moral Concern? T h u s , j u s t as  when a r g u i n g f o r  vitalism,  Rolston's primary  justification for extending moral concern to the ecosystem i s a r i c h , detailed description of 'projective nature'.  Also as  before, there i s  no apparent rational requirement to accept the moral attitudes for  Rolston, accompany h i s v i s i o n . A l t h o u g h  'projective'  which, nature  certainly warrants awe, that does not obviously translate into moral concern. Conservative c r i t i c s of moral expansion will want reason for c r e d i t i n g s u c h awe with moral force. What i s more, i t can be argued that because we humans are i n t e g r a l to the panorama Rolston describes, i t i s sufficient for us to rely on the  needs,  d r i v e s , and i n s t i n c t s  which projective nature has provided, rather than s t r u g g l i n g to extend morality beyond the human society where i t makes best sense. We are, of course, seemingly destructive creatures,  but destruction itself  i n t e g r a l to the dynamic processes Rolston describes. In short, Chapter Eight  is  what 172  s t i l l needs to be  exhibited i s the link between Rolston's description  of projective nature and a moral concern for species and ecosystems.  10  Living-Systems Ecosophism As i n the case of vitalism, Rolston's descriptions and evocations can be understood i n two ways. We can t h i n k of them as accounts of values 'waiting to be discovered' i n nature, or we can t h i n k of them as an attempt to promote a f u n d a m e n t a l a t t i t u d e  w h i c h makes i t  reasonable to ascribe values i n nature. The former reading i s more i n keeping with Rolston's overall tenor, but he himself sometimes t a l k s of an 'appropriate attitude' and, given that t h i s e n q u i r y has adopted a relational view of value, the latter l i g h t of the  latter  reading i s more germane.  In  reading (and assuming that clear, unambiguous  'headings' can be identified), Rolston's argument can be understood i n terms of an expanded biocentric outlook which includes species and ecosystems, and a fundamental attitude which involves a willingness to ascribe inherent outlook.  1 1  value i n accordance  with the  expanded biocentric  A n a r g u m e n t f o r what m i g h t be c a l l e d ' l i v i n g - s y s t e m s  ecosophism'  (individuals, species, and  ecosystems)  may t h e n  be  sketched as follows: Living individuals,  species, and  ecosystems  a l l have  'headings'  which moral agents can take into account when acting; t h u s , they are candidates for moral consideration. They are also 'natural and  i f we t a k e a d i s i n t e r e s t e d , e c o l o g i c a l view  biocentric outlook — we will find  that they  - - an  projects', expanded  are a l l important and  worthy. As Rolston notes, they are a l l developed at a cost i n energy and  time, a n d , t h e r e f o r e ,  they  'matter'  from  the  standpoint  of  12 projective  nature.  Chapter Eight  In other  words, shorn  of c l a i m s  about  173  discoverable value, l i v i n g systems ecosophism can be argued for by making the same k i n d of appeal to an ecological perspective as was made i n support of vitalism. However, i n that case, whatever  other  shortcomings or problems the argument suffers from, i t i s vitiated i n exactly the  same  way as the argument  for  vitalism. The ecological  p e r s p e c t i v e i t s e l f i s morally n e u t r a l , a n d we must g r a n t i t m o r a l force before the argument can take hold. But why should we do that? Rolston does not explain, and conservative c r i t i c s are going to i n s i s t that i t would be contrary to our moral traditions to do so. Once again (and as forecast at the beginning of the chapter), an impasse between conservatives and expansionists has been reached. Non-Organic, Natural Projects Although i t should now be clear that l i v i n g - s y s t e m s ecosophism requires further argumentative support i f i t i s to satisfy the needs of t h i s e n q u i r y , i t i s w o r t h b r i e f l y complete,  fully  'ecological',  t r a c i n g the  ecosophism.  Like  final  step to a  individual  organisms,  species, and ecosystems, n o n - l i v i n g natural entities are also natural projects  within 'projective nature'.  Thus, i f species and  ecosystems  warrant moral consideration because they are natural projects, then t h e r e i s reason to t h i n k t h a t n o n - l i v i n g n a t u r a l e n t i t i e s may be 13 considerable too. As Rolston points out: C r y s t a l s , volcanoes, g e y s e r s , h e a d l a n d s , r i v e r s , s p r i n g s , moons, cirques, paternoster lakes, buttes, mesas, canyons — these are also among the natural k i n d s . ...They do not have wills or interests but rather headings, trajectories, t r a i t s , successions, beginnings, endings, c y c l e s which g i v e them a tectonic i n t e g r i t y . They can be projects (products) of quality. And so, too, can pebbles, breccia, sand, stagnant puddles and anything else p r o j e c t i v e n a t u r e y i e l d s . If t r a d i t i o n a l c r i t e r i a f o r a s s e s s i n g Chapter Eight  174  'quality' are to be set us  enfranchising  a l l the  aside so completely, there i s little to world's 'natural'  furniture.  stop  (And perhaps  even some which i s made by humans.) Thus, even pebbles will appear to have a moral claim upon us when viewed from a suitably biocentric perspective.  After  reconstituted  a l l , they  are  (as  Rolston so beautifully puts  star dust, and they arguably  it)  have a 'heading' i n the  14 sense that they are part of a tectonic cycle. Is t h i s , then, a clear reductio of the attempt to extend the moral franchise so far beyond the traditional limits imposed by humanity and sentience? reasonable  Not n e c e s s a r i l y : i t i s t h e e x p e r i e n c e writers that, i f a serious  attempt i s  world from a s u f f i c i e n t l y d i s i n t e r e s t e d  of  made to  otherwise view  the  ecological perspective,  a  profound appreciation of n o n - l i v i n g as well as l i v i n g nature develops, and t h i s proves a fertile ground for moral change. However, i n that case, the question why we should adopt such a perspective and imbue i t with moral force simply becomes more p r e s s i n g . BRENNAN'S ARGUMENT " Functionlessness'  Before t u r n i n g to deep ecology, I am going to consider a much briefer,  and  conceptually simpler argument  for  too, exhibits the need for additional support  moral expansion.  which i s  It  characteristic  of ecosophist arguments. Andrew Brennan has proposed extending moral c o n s i d e r a t i o n "to a l l i n t r i n s i c a l l y f u n c t i o n l e s s His claim i s t h a t we c a n d i s t i n g u i s h b e t w e e n  natural  things".  naturally occurring  e n t i t i e s a n d human a r t i f a c t s i n t e r m s of ' f u n c t i o n ' , a n d t h a t distinction  between  considerable  and  1 5  inconsiderable  entities  the  should  coincide with t h i s separation. In consequence, he recommends a fully Chapter Eight  175  ecological  ecosophism  (living  systems  plus  non-living  natural  entities) j u s t as Rolston does. 'Functionlessness' Has Moral Claim Upon Us To appreciate the distinction Brennan i s d e s c r i b i n g , suppose that you are unfamiliar with an entity, E . Brennan claims that so long as E i s naturally o c c u r r i n g , I can explain to you what i t i s like  without  any need to refer to E's function: you will gain a good understanding of E without me saying what E i s for. However, i n the case of a human artifact,  my t e l l i n g  you  what  E is for  is essential  to  your  u n d e r s t a n d i n g . T h u s , B r e n n a n c l a i m s a n as y e t ' m o r a l l y n e u t r a l ' distinction between naturally o c c u r r i n g entities and human artifacts. If the basis of Brennan's distinction seems questionable, let grant i t for now, for argument's  sake, i n order to pursue  problematic  may  naturally  question.  occurring  Why, we  entities  be  ask,  granted  Brennan's answer i s that 'functionlessness'  should  us  another  'functionless',  consideration?  Apparently,  has a moral claim upon us  although he leaves the precise nature of that claim unclear. Even so, a possible reading suggests itself. Brennan's appeal to 'function' can be understood as an attempt to separate entities created by humans i n order to serve human purposes from naturally o c c u r r i n g entities which exhibit goals or 'headings'  as part of t h e i r  least one p h i l o s o p h e r has s u g g e s t e d  natural endowment. At  that, i n the  c a s e of  living  entities, the possession of an 'end of i t s own' entails that an entity 16 i s an e n d i n i t s e l f , hence c o n s i d e r a b l e .  Brennan, I think,  is  r e l y i n g on a similar view, while going a stage further and seeking to enfranchise  a l l naturally o c c u r r i n g entities. However, i t i s far  from  c l e a r why, from t h e vantage p o i n t of r a t i o n a l m o r a l i t y , a n  entity  Chapter Eight  176  should be deemed an end i n itself j u s t because i t has an i n t r i n s i c telos or heading. If the matter were so simple, t h i s e n q u i r y could be begun and ended i n a matter of pages. Appealing To Chief Seattle As an apparent adjunct to t h i s argument, Brennan also claims that, at other times and i n other places, consideration has been extended to a l l n a t u r a l l y o c c u r r i n g e n t i t i e s . B r e n n a n q u o t e s at l e n g t h f r o m speech supposedly given by Chief Seattle i n 1854, whom he  a  represents  17 as a k i n d of naive ecosophist. For example: Our dead never forget t h i s beautiful earth... We are part of the earth, and i t i s part of us. The perfumed f l o w e r s are o u r s i s t e r s ; t h e d e a r , t h e horse, the great eagle; these are our brothers. The r o c k y crests, the juices of the meadow, the body heat of the pony, and man — a l l belong to the same family... Unfortunately, i t seems that although Seattle d i d give a speech i n 18 1854, t h i s passage i s not from i t . Seattle's words, and  However, even i f these  were  even i f i t could be shown that Seattle was both  an early ecosophist and a reliable representative of (certain  aspects  of) North American aboriginal c u l t u r e , i t s t i l l would not follow  that  there i s reason for us to follow Seattle's lead. What Brennan needs to offer us i s reason why we should become ecosophists, and t h i s he does not do. But What About Cats a n d Sheep Dogs? An additional, and serious, problem for Brennan i s created by his original  d i s t i n c t i o n between  e n t i t i e s because  i t does  functionless  not effect  and  a clear,  function-defined  morally  acceptable  s e p a r a t i o n of e n t i t i e s . F o r example, my c a t T r i l b y , w i t h whom t h e enquiry began, was a 'domestic short h a i r ' , probably descended Chapter Eight  from 177  n o r t h African wild-cats domesticated by the Egyptians. These cats have been purpose bred over thousands of years i n order to  accentuate  qualities l i k e t h e i r compatibility  delight i n  with humans and t h e i r  k i l l i n g rodents. Is i t really possible to explain what T r i l b y was like without reference to a domestic cat's function as human companion and rat-catcher? I doubt i t . Does that mean my cat l a c k s moral standing? If so, then what of plough-horses, sheep-dogs, and the many other creatures b r e d by humans for specific characteristics? Such creatures exhibit a blending of human and innate goals, and they inescapably s t r a d d l e t h e l i n e B r e n n a n wants t o d r a w . I n a s i m i l a r nonsentient entities like 'natural'  but  planted forests  'functional'.  Thus, i t  manner,  and r i v e r s r i v e s are  seems  the  division  also  between  c o n s i d e r a b l e a n d i n c o n s i d e r a b l e e n t i t i e s c a n n o t be t i e d t o a distinction  between intrinsically  functionless and  func±ion-exhibiting  entities. DEEP (AND TRANSPERSONAL) ECOLOGY Naess's Egalitarian, Non-Axiological Legacy Deep ecology, which i s the  philosophical c h i l d  of Arne  Naess's  19 fecund 'retirement',  i s even less l i k e a conventional moral argument  than the proposals offered by Taylor and Rolston. Not only does deep ecology present a case for fully ecological ecosophism, that case i s built around an ecosophist world-view  which arguably has  more i n  common with religion than contemporary philosophy. Even so, I shall attempt to offer a sympathetic reading of deep ecology based primarily on Warwick Fox's exposition of Naess and of Fox's own 'transpersonal' , 20 ecology. The f i r s t t h i n g to note about  Chapter Eight  deep  ecology is that it is  178  egalitarian — i t refuses humanity p r i v i l e g e d moral status and rejects any  moral hierarchy  of entities  21 — and i t i s non-axiological. The  second t h i n g to note i s that deep ecology i s presented as a moral 22 option rather than as a position incumbent on rational agents: Specifically, the fact that transpersonal e c o l o g i s t s [i.e. deep e c o l o g i s t s ] a r e n o t i n t h e business of wanting to claim that their conclusions are morally binding on others means that they do not attempt to p r o v e the c o r r e c t n e s s of t h e i r a p p r o a c h . T h e y p r e s e n t t h e i r a p p r o a c h as a realistic, positive, option... Thus, deep ecology may be thought of as an ethos, a recipe for an entire  way of l i f e  i n the  Aristotelian mold,  which, unlike  the  23 Aristotelian recipe, makes no claim to be uniquely r i g h t .  In l i g h t  of t h i s , i t i s u n s u r p r i s i n g that deep ecology, too, will be found lack the  resources for  p r o v i d i n g conservative  critics  with  to  broadly  compelling reasons for moral expansion. However, I shall conclude this chapter  by  u r g i n g that  deep ecology's focus  on self-realisation  is  suggestive of a move towards s u c h reasons. The Foundational Claims The essence of deep ecology can be understood i n terms of a now familiar s t r u c t u r e . There i s a world-view — roughly a version of the expanded fundamental  b i o c e n t r i c outlook attitude; the  — which supports  attitude then  and  justifies  justifies ecosophism's  a  radical  expansion of the moral franchise. The world-view i s itself ecosophist, 24 and i s summed up as follows by Fox: . . . a l l s u b d i v i s i o n s are s e e n as r e l a t i v e r a t h e r t h a n as a b s o l u t e . O r i n m e t a p h o r i c a l t e r m s , 'separate t h i n g s i n the world' should be thought of as e d d i e s , r i p p l e s a n d w h i r l p o o l s i n a s t r e a m ('unity i n process') rather than as b r i c k s that are totally self-contained and self-sufficient. In o t h e r words, a l l separate i n d i v i d u a l s a n d Chapter Eight  entities  are  inter179  dependent.  For some purposes, what we usually t h i n k of as  discrete  individuals are best thought of as multiple aspects of a single l a r g e r entity. This i s quite different from the 'world-view' usually adopted by a n a l y t i c p h i l o s o p h y , which t e n d s to  describe  a u n i v e r s e of  irredeemably separate items. However, the ecosophistic perspective has i t s precedents. Fox calls modern p h y s i c s , Spinoza, Hinduism, Buddhism, 25 and elements of Christianity i n aid.  But, although these  references  may l e n d ecosophism i n t e l l e c t u a l r e s p e c t a b i l i t y , t h e y  do n o t , i n  themselves, e x p l a i n what i t i n v o l v e s . I s h a l l  sketch  briefly  an  understanding of deep ecology's world-view. ' F i e l d ' A n d 'Knots* Deep ecology begins by asking us to recognise that e v e r y t h i n g i n the  world i s interconnected i n the  ecological sense.  This i s  pretty  much what t h e s c i e n c e of ecology a n d ' e n v i r o n m e n t a l i s m ' a l r e a d y propound. Roughly, the idea i s that a l l aspects of our food chain, the climate, and even geomorphic features  world  —the  — are causally  related. Change to one k i n d of entity, i n one particular place, will inevitably have other effects elsewhere. Going a step further,  we are then asked to understand that the  divisions defining separate entities  are  fluid  and temporary.  From  other perspectives, they are even sometimes less important than 26 o v e r a l l " f i e l d " within which d i s c r e t e e n t i t i e s a r e " k n o t s " . step i s p o t e n t i a l l y more p u z z l i n g t h a n  the  first.  It  the This  apparently  involves t h i n k i n g of our world as made up of dynamic processes — c o n s t r u c t i o n , decay, a n d t h e p l a y of e n e r g y  — rather  t h a n as a  collection of relatively stable entities. As an analogy for the  change  of perspective deep ecology i s now suggesting, consider our view of Chapter Eight  180  geological and geomorphic features. On a human time-scale,  mountains,  for example, are d i s t i n c t , p e r m a n e n t e n t i t i e s . B u t o v e r g e o l o g i c a l time they  are constantly  changing. In general,  geological time, geological and  geomorphic  when viewed  features  are  across  fluid.  They  are like waves i n a lake, which b u i l d , interact, and subside. What i s more, from t h e  standpoint  of g e o l o g y , t h i s  dynamic  process  is  sometimes more significant than the i n d i v i d u a l features themselves. So far, nothing has been said about the human i n d i v i d u a l . But the consequences  of the above perspective for our view of ourselves  c r u c i a l to deep e c o l o g y . J u s t as c e r t a i n  religious outlooks  is  and  practices seek a diminishment of 'ego' and a broadening of the sense of self, so, too, does deep e c o l o g y . Deep e c o l o g y u r g e s t h a t  we  identify our 'self' not merely with our own particular body, needs, and interests (the  knot which i s ' I ' ) , but  process constituting the  with the  entire  world and i t s i n d i v i d u a l entities  dynamic (the  field  27 which i s ' I ' ). .28 way:  Quoting Alan Drengson, Fox puts the  matter  this  ...Using Naess's terminology, we can say that the follower of the Deep Ecology Way practices extended self-identification...[which] involves an extension of one's c o n c e r n s , commitments, a n d p o l i t i c a l a c t i o n s . T h i s s e n s e o f e x t e n d e d c a r i n g was expressed well i n Spinoza's observation that we are as large as our loves. Egalitarianism Founds A Fundamental Attitude Deep ecology's ecosophist world-view and extended  notion of the  self i s now used to justify i t s defining concept, one which will also s o u n d familiar b y now, "the n o t i o n of b i o c e n t r i c ( o r b i o s p h e r i c a l ) 29 egalitarianism".  Biocentric egalitarianism  recognises  that  all  i n d i v i d u a l organisms are equal members of the biotic community, and Chapter Eight  181  all  nonorganic  entities  are  equal  elements  of  the  natural  infrastructure which supports that community. Deep ecology claims that from a e c o s o p h i s t i c , b i o c e n t r i c p e r s p e c t i v e t h e r e i s no r e a s o n prefer the  flourishing  to  of one k i n d of entity over another, or to deem  one k i n d of nonorganic entity more 'worthy' than another. Note that t h i s  perspective  is  markedly different  from  Taylor's  biocentric outlook, which extends only to l i v i n g i n d i v i d u a l s l i k e humans, c a t s , a n d t r e e s . It i s a l s o d i f f e r e n t from t h e  expanded  biocentric outlook which I credited to Rolston, because Rolston, who does include non-organic entities i n his expanded biocentric outlook, r a n k s 'natural projects'  according to an appraisal of t h e i r  importance from a b i o c e n t r i c p e r s p e c t i v e .  In order  to  relative do  this,  Rolston, of course, relies on an appraisal of value. It i s important to keep i n mind t h a t deep ecology i s e x p l i c i t l y n o n - a x i o l o q i c a l : i t attempts to move from the  biocentric perspective to the  claim that  e n t i t i e s are c o n s i d e r a b l e w i t h o u t any s i g n i f i c a n t r e l i a n c e on ascriptions of value. Deep ecology's egalitarianism, coupled with the extended sense of self, i s now used to encourage what I have been calling a 'fundamental a t t i t u d e ' . I n deep e c o l o g y ' s own t e r m s , b i o c e n t r i c e g a l i t a r i a n i s m encourages "the development of a state of being referred to by Naess as  'self-realisation' and  by  Devall  and  Sessions  as  'ecological  30 consciousness'."  My u n d e r s t a n d i n g i s t h a t t h i s ' s t a t e of b e i n g '  i n v o l v e s the acceptance of o u r own i n s e p a r a b l e r o o t e d n e s s i n t h e biosphere and our broadened sense of self, coupled with a readiness to give practical expression to our broadened  sense of self. Thus, we  become concerned to husband the biosphere for i t s own sake, not merely Chapter Eight  182  for  instrumental  reasons,  and  we extend  moral consideration to a l l  naturally o c c u r r i n g entities; we begin to act as though we really are coextensive with the nonhuman world. Sharing A Common Strategy Some will wish to dismiss both deep ecology's metaphysics, and i t s claims about s e l f - r e a l i s a t i o n as m y s t i c i s m a n d r e l i g i o n . I t w i l l be said that deep ecology has little bearing on philosophical ethics i n the  western (and p a r t i c u l a r l y the analytic) t r a d i t i o n . A n d , certainly,  Naess  d i d not  see  himself as  'doing ethics'  i n the  traditional  31 sense.  However, deep ecology does pursue a basic strategy common to  t h e movement from ecology, a n d i t s a p p a r e n t s t r a n g e n e s s may be l e s s e n e d b y f o c u s s i n g on t h e more f a m i l i a r  aspects.  Thus, it is  important to note that, as explained above, deep ecology i s proposing a  biocentric outlook  which  supports  a fundamental  attitude  characterised by a willingness to husband the non-human world for n o n instrumental reasons and  grant  moral s t a n d i n g  to a l l n a t u r a l l y  o c c u r r i n g entities. The difference between deep ecology and the other vitalist and ecosophist approaches i s largely a result of deep ecology c a r r y i n g t h r o u g h the programme to establish a fundamental more thoroughly. It treats the  fundamental  attitude,  and  attitude ethics i n  general, less as a conceptual issue and more as a matter of who we are and how we experience ourselves i n the world. It i s t h i s  thoroughness  which moves deep ecology i n the direction of metaphysics,  religion,  and the construction of an ethos. 'Showing How' Rather Than ' A r g u i n g F o r ' But whatever the similarities and differences between deep ecology and the rest of the movement from ecology, from the point of view of Chapter Eight  183  t h i s e n q u i r y , they  share  a common failing.  Deep ecology does  not  address the question why we should adopt the biocentric outlook, or grant moral significance to i t . Indeed, both Naess and Fox explicitly eschew any attempt to do so; they are offering us an option which we are quite at l i b e r t y to set aside. It i s apparently t h e i r view that i f we begin the move towards biocentrism, i t will gain a momentum of i t s own, and we will end up radically changed. In  defense of t h i s s t r a t e g y , i t may be f a i r l y  ecology invokes a different k i n d of argument than  said that  deep  we are used to.  Naess and Fox are showing us how to achieve an expanded sense of moral significance rather than how to argue for the reasonableness of s u c h an e x p a n s i o n . However, t h i s e n q u i r y does n e e d t o a r g u e f o r reasonableness  of moral e x p a n s i o n ( i f i t i s to e n d o r s e  the  moral  expansion) because i t i s an e n q u i r y committed to seeking reasons which speak to humanist and sentientist intransigence. In consequence, we will soon have to look elsewhere than to deep ecology for a means of answering the i n i t i a l question. Suppose We Forced The Issue Before  we do conclude t h i s discussion of deep ecology, let  us  suppose we insisted on deep ecology a r g u i n g i n a way which would supply humanists and sentientists  with reason to  work towards  an  expanded sense of moral significance, mentioned above. Two possible approaches suggest themselves: On the one hand, deep ecology might focus on making the case for i t s ecosophist world-view, then  attempt  to show that i t s account of moral scope i s i n some way entailed by that world-view. On the other  hand, i t might be argued that  deep  ecology i s a p a r t i c u l a r l y reasonable and rewarding response to  Chapter Eight  the  184  world-view. My u n d e r s t a n d i n g distinguished  is that these a l t e r n a t i v e s  by deep e c o l o g y , n o r  are  not  clearly  followed up. However,  deep  ecology's emphasis on 'self-realisation' and a t r u l y rewarding way of life does suggest that i t i s oriented more towards the second strategy t h a n the f i r s t . As Fox w r i t e s , s e l f - r e a l i s a t i o n i s t h e  process  by  32 which "we realize a larger sense of self",  and quoting Naess: "My  concern here i s the human capability of identification, the human joy i n the identification with [for example] the salmon on i t s way to i t s 33 spawning ground". Naess also writes that self realisation "results i n a c t i n g more c o n s i s t e n t l y from o n e s e l f as a whole. T h i s i s experienced as more meaningful and desirable, even i f sometimes rather 34 painful."  I n other words, deep ecology and moral expansion are being  presented as having positive consequences for humans. This i s a way of t h i n k i n g about the initial  question  which we have not  encountered  since discussing humanism. Thus, the most conservative and the  most  generous accounts of moral scope share a common concern, even i f i t i s more prominent i n one account, and even i f i t i s allied to profoundly different ideas about moral standing. The importance of t h i s may not be immediately apparent, but I shall suggest, i n Part Four, that much might be made of i t .  Chapter Eight  185  PART POUR: THE MOVEMENT FROM PRAGMATISM (Possibilities Of A New Direction) Chapter Nine TRANSCENDING INSTRUMENTALISM  Parts Two (The Movement From Interest) and Three (The Movement From Ecology) support conclusions which mark an end to our journey of exploration, and, thus, an end to the e n q u i r y ' s main task and primary raison  d'etre.  Briefly  sentientism, humanists  stated,  and  humanists  sentientists  are  are  free  free  to  to  reject  reject vitalism,  and a l l three are free to reject ecosophism. Despite a l l that has been said i n favour of the arguments from expansion, there i s no rational compulsion to move beyond moral humanism. An explanation of t h i s situation i s also now to hand: Each answer to the  initial  question, Which entities are  morally considerable?, i s  grounded i n a unique moral outlook which (at least i n the case of humanism and sentientism) includes an explicit account of morality's p u r p o s e a n d ( p a r t i c u l a r l y i n t h e c a s e of v i t a l i s m a n d e c o s o p h i s m ) i n v o l v e s an axiology a n d an u n d e r s t a n d i n g  of  what  constitutes  meaningful moral argument which i s quite different from that espoused by  t h e o t h e r a c c o u n t s . E a c h of t h e s e d i s t i n c t m o r a l o u t l o o k s i s  rationally sound; moreover, each of the major accounts of moral scope is informed, overall, by moral notions which are foundational, even axiomatic to that position. Thus, i t i s seemingly impossible to delve any deeper i n search of justification, and argument about the initial question q u i c k l y reaches an impasse.  1  Such debate as there i s must,  apparently, either involve arguments which beg the question or consist of laying out the relative merits of a position. Or i s there a t h i r d  Chapter Nine  186  alternative? The purpose of the present chapter i s to suggest another possible k i n d of approach. In the final chapter, I shall then attempt to sketch the k i n d of account of moral scope which that approach might yield. Thus, the present chapter  will outline the logic of a possible  new approach to the initial question, and the final chapter out i t s likely  will draw  consequences.  TWO CHOICES A Not Unfamiliar Problem The impasse which debate about t h e i n i t i a l q u e s t i o n has now generated i s not u n i q u e i n moral p h i l o s o p h y . T h e d e b a t e  between  u t i l i t a r i a n t h e o r i s t s l i k e S i n g e r , a n d t h o s e who a d v o c a t e  a non-  consequential approach to ethics, also requires each party to call the other's fundamental  perceptions  into question. As yet, there i s  no  generally accepted way to proceed under such circumstances. A n d , i n the case of the present e n q u i r y , that means there are now two broad choices before us. Choice One The f i r s t choice i s to rely on time and continuing debate to focus and resolve the issues raised by the initial question; eventually, a clear and definitive answer will probably emerge. To take part i n t h i s debate we must further explore the relative strengths and  weaknesses  of positions and t r y to amplify the v i r t u e s of any which we prefer. And,  for  many of u s , t h i s  w i l l be a n  S e n t i e n t i s t s are motivated b y t h e suffering,  and  vitalists and  unsatisfactory  w e i g h t of c o n t i n u e d  ecosophists  are  option. nonhuman  motivated  by  the  perception that the nonhuman world, or at least those aspects of i t on which humans d e p e n d , i s b e i n g i r r e p a r a b l y d a m a g e d . I n  Chapter Nine  general,  187  expansionists  view moral p h i l o s o p h y as  an  essentially  practical  undertaking, and an enlarged moral franchise as a way to reduce abuses p r a c t i c e d i n the s e r v i c e of p e r c e i v e d h u m a n i n t e r e s t s . s u r e l y too soon to s i m p l y accept,  as  some  And, it is  deep e c o l o g i s t s  seem  inclined to, that rational debate about moral standing has already r u n 2 i t s course. Choice Two The second choice i s a more impatient strategy. We can t r y  to  reformulate debate so as to speed up the process of selecting a 'most reasonable' account of moral scope i n l i g h t of present knowledge and understanding. Given that each account i s the product of a  different  informing conception of what morality i s a l l about, the attempt must start by b r i n g i n g those conceptions into contention. A n d given that the conceptions themselves are pretty much axiomatic, we cannot  hope  to dig yet deeper and find some hidden common ground which will offer a new basis for comparison. The alternative — the only other possible course — i s to show that there i s an existing vantage point which does offer a view of m o r a l i t y ' s p u r p o s e  which a l l r a t i o n a l moral  agents have reason to accept. If t h i s can be done, that conception of moral purpose  may then  provide a c r i t e r i o n of acceptability  against  which to judge the various claims regarding moral expansion. Looking Beyond The Present Horizon Thus, my tentative  contention here will be that s u c h a view of  morality's purpose i s available to us, and t h a t i t does f u r n i s h a c r i t e r i o n of a c c e p t a b i l i t y w h i c h i s a r a t i o n a l r e s p o n s e t o  the  strengths and weaknesses of the arguments considered so far. But let me s t r e s s , at t h i s , t h e o u t s e t of P a r t Chapter Nine  Four, that although  what 188  follows i s (in some ways) preparatory to a new k i n d of moral theory, i t i s s t i l l only a sketch, and i t i s tentative. The major task  set for  t h i s enquiry was the c r i t i c a l exploration of c u r r e n t accounts of moral scope, and that has been completed. This final part of the e n q u i r y i s by way of a speculative look beyond the present horizon. REVIEWING AND EXTENDING FINDINGS Assembling A Job Description But  before  we do begin to ask  what might lie ahead, i t will be  helpful to review and and draw together the major findings of Parts Two  and Three. Doing so  offered  above are  will not only show that the  conclusions  well supported; i t will also enable us to  pursue  some extensions to those findings. Putting together a l l that we know about previous accounts of moral scope — t h e i r s t r e n g t h s and t h e i r weaknesses  — will then enable us to sketch what i s needed  i n an  argument seeking to overcome the impasse that has been reached, i n an ethic suitable for b r i d g i n g the mattering gap. As i n the main body of the e n q u i r y , our starting point will be moral humanism. The Humanist Challenge Moral humanism s t i l l p r e s e n t s a n o t a b l e  challenge  e x p a n s i o n ; humanism's simple, o r i g i n a l i n s i s t e n c e  that  to  moral  morality's  proper business i s limited to promoting human welfare need succumb to nothing that has been said so far. Granted humanism i s no longer a hot item i n the  philosophical literature,  those  who actively debate  the  need for moral expansion and environmental issues can h a r d l y fail to notice t h a t  received  morality a n d  political  thought  still  tends  3  towards humanism.  This situation may be gradually changing under the  weight of sentientist Chapter Nine  argument,  and even as a consequence  of 189  the  movement from ecology, but a more complete response to humanism would s t i l l be a most useful asset. The problem i s not j u s t that humanism's view of morality's purpose i s finally  proof against anything expansionists have said; a l l k i n d s  of strange moral theories could claim that. (For example, one  could  consistently adhere to the principle that only white males over forty have moral s t a n d i n g , a n d r e j e c t a l l a t t e m p t s at d i s s u a s i o n . )  The  problem i s , rather, that humanism speaks for a long-standing tradition which not only limits moral concern to humans, but offers a highly p l a u s i b l e e x p l a n a t i o n of t h a t l i m i t . A c c o r d i n g t o m o r a l h u m a n i s m , morality i s a human artifact  which exists i n order  to promote  the  welfare (and protect the rights) of reciprocating moral agents, and, by extension, the requirements  and  welfare  (and  restrictions  on  rights) our  of a l l h u m a n s .  behaviour  are  Moral  ultimately  justified because they do promote that goal. Because humanism speaks for the dominant t r a d i t i o n , and because humanism has a complete and systematic  explanation  considerable  burden  of i t s  p o s i t i o n to  of proof on those  hand,  who wish to  there  is  a  achieve moral  expansion. Sentientism Sentientism's simplest response to humanism i s the bare claim that a concern for nonhuman  suffering i s the consistent  and  reasonable  companion to a concern for human suffering. If the well-being of young c h i l d r e n , imbeciles, sociopaths, and psychopaths  i s morally relevant,  then i t i s h a r d to understand why the well-being of sentient nonhumans i s not. ( T h i s i s r o u g h l y  what I have  called 'soft  sentientism'.)  However, as discussed earlier, humanists who are intent on resisting  Chapter Nine  190  sentientism  can  enfranchising  probably find  logically  intellectually, and even  irreproachable  morally, limited  grounds humans  for while  disenfranchising nonhumans. Thus, i n order to make a more rigorous case  for  expansion,  sentientists grounded,  adopt  hedonic  a  and  (particularly)  more t h e o r e t i c a l l y  respectively, i n  classical  and  interest-based  sophisticated 'preference'  approach  utilitarianism.  However, both are problematic positions. For one t h i n g , although utilitarian moral theory does lend r i g o r to s e n t i e n t i s m , i t i s f a r from b e i n g u n i v e r s a l l y a c c e p t e d . A n d i t seems foolish to tie the case for moral expansion — support i s being sought  for which broad  — to the claim that morality i s  primarily  concerned with maximising pleasure or interest satisfaction and, thus, 4 to p a r t i s a n t h e o r i s i n g .  F o r a n o t h e r t h i n g , as became c l e a r when  discussing Sumner's view of moral expansion, utilitarian moral theory entails an account of moral scope which stops dead at the  mattering  gap: as Sumner p o i n t s out, u t i l i t a r i a n i s m i s o n l y c o n c e r n e d interests  w h i c h are accompanied b y a f f e c t .  M o r e o v e r , as  with  argued  earlier, utilitarian calculations become clearly unworkable beyond the 5  mattering gap (if not sooner). A n Unacceptable Anchor This restriction of utilitarian ethics to the conservative side of the mattering gap entails a problem which i s more serious than may f i r s t appear for those of us hoping to extend the  moral franchise  f u r t h e r . U t i l i t a r i a n s e n t i e n t i s t s who a l s o h a v e v i t a l i s t s y m p a t h i e s may plan to begin the movement for expansion using utilitarian t h e o r y , then embrace another  k i n d of approach once the  mattering  gap  reached. But that i s not only inelegant; i t i s unworkable. Chapter Nine  191  is  If, for example, vitalism i s espoused i n addition to then  there  w i l l r o u t i n e l y be b o t h s e n t i e n t  and  sentientism,  non-sentient  considerable entities to take into account when evaluating actions. It will, therefore, be necessary to blend and balance the recommendations of  utilitarian sentientism and the  vitalist theory.  That  will involve  appealing to a t h i r d set of principles or considerations, and  they  might as well be directly formulated as a single, o v e r - a r c h i n g account of  moral scope.^  In other  words, the  attempt to  work  with  utilitarianism plus some other basis for a s c r i b i n g moral standing  will  usher i n a new synthesis and eventuate i n a novel moral theory. A possible utilitarian response  to t h i s situation i s to create a  more g e n e r o u s , u n i f i e d account of m o r a l s c o p e b y b r o a d e n i n g interests  which are ascribed moral relevance. Thus, 'interests'  the  which  are not accompanied by affect (such as a plant's 'interest' i n water) might be taken into account. However, the problem of t r y i n g to make utilitarian calculations across s u c h b r o a d l y c o n c e i v e d then re-emerges. How are  'interests'  we to calculate what would best maximise  'interest satisfaction' when human, sentient nonhuman, and vegetative 'interests' are a l l morally relevant? How are we even to compare s u c h different  k i n d s of interest?  Furthermore, even i f utilitarian vitalism  could somehow be made to work, any expansion beyond vitalism would have to overcome the (seemingly reasonable) objection that only l i v i n g individuals can be ascribed interests. I think  we must  conclude that a  incompatible with crossing the who  support  utilitarian ethic  is  mattering gap. In consequence,  both sentientism and  (aspects of) the  movement  quite those from  ecology r e q u i r e a non-utilitarian argument for sentientism as well as  Chapter Nine  192  grounds for going beyond sentientism. Thus, utilitarianism i s not j u s t a moral theory which originates on the humanist side of the matteringgap, i t i s a moral t h e o r y w h i c h i s a n c h o r e d t o , a n d a n c h o r s  its  proponents to, that side. The Movement From Ecology Just  as  humanism is free  to s t a n d  p l e a d i n g s , so s e n t i e n t i s m may r e j e c t t h e  aloof  from  sentientist  movement f r o m e c o l o g y .  Indeed, the movement from ecology makes i t increasingly clear, as i t becomes more generous, that an alternative moral option, rather than a rationally incumbent moral necessity, i s being offered. the  movement from ecology s u f f e r s  In addition,  t w o main w e a k n e s s e s .  First,  arguments like those constructed by Rolston must rely heavily on the claim that inherent  value i s a discoverable feature  of the  natural  world, and that i s a metaphysically puzzling view of value at best. Second, arguments  like those  constructed  by  Taylor and the  deep  e c o l o g i s t s r e l y on an i n i t i a l l y m o r a l l y n e u t r a l d e s c r i p t i o n of t h e natural world which we are then urged to imbue with moral force, and use either as a basis for ascriptions of inherent value (Taylor), or as an immediate b a s i s for a s c r i p t i o n s  of  moral s t a n d i n g  (deep  ecology). But we are never told why we should grant moral force to the outlook and to the consequent changes i n the  way we perceive and  respond to the nonhuman world. However, t h i s i s precisely the question which conservative c r i t i c s of greater moral generosity will r e q u i r e an answer to. At least one deep ecologist, Fox, has suggested that conservatives are i n v o k i n g Hume's 'is-ought fallacy*, here, and  missing the  point  7  entirely. However, I t h i n k i t i s Fox who misses the point.  Chapter Nine  As noted  193  at the beginning of the chapter, Fox urges that proponents  of the  movement from ecology are making an axiomatic assumption about  the  basis of moral standing. However, my sense i s that an argument,  not  j u s t an assumption, i s being offered, and that conservatives invoke no 'fallacy' i n questioning it: it i s reasonable  to a s k  why t h e  'is'  which supports the 'ought' should be imbued with moral significance. Moreover, i f Fox i s correct, and there really i s no argument  here,  then there i s also no reason why conservative c r i t i c s should give the time of day to the movement from ecology. From the standpoint of t h i s e n q u i r y — which v i e w s the i n i t i a l q u e s t i o n as a p r e s s i n g ,  and  essentially practical, issue we must t r y to reach agreement on — that i s not acceptable. The movement from ecology must seek, and display, reason for granting moral force to i t s informing world view, and for initiating the personal and attitudinal changes which i t advocates. The Appeal To Human Interests How might these reasons be provided? I noted d u r i n g the original discussion of sentientism that, ideally, sentientism needs an of m o r a l i t y ' s p u r p o s e  account  which will claim humanist l o y a l t y .  i n s i s t e n c e t h a t morality i s about m a x i m i s i n g p l e a s u r e , o r  (The  interest  satisfaction, simply does not persuade humanists, who have t h e i r own c o n c e p t i o n of m o r a l i t y ' s f u n c t i o n . ) It  was a l s o n o t e d  during  the  d i s c u s s i o n of v i t a l i s m t h a t a s u p p o r t i v e c o n c e p t i o n of m o r a l i t y ' s purpose would be the best response to both humanism and sentientism. S i m i l a r l y , a c o n c e p t i o n s u p p o r t i v e of e c o s o p h i s m w o u l d h e l p ecosophism's  need  to  answer  conservative  critics.  Thus,  meet moral  expansion i n general requires the support of sympathetic accounts of 'what morality i s a l l about'.  Chapter Nine  194  It i s also notable t h a t , i n o r d e r to m i n i m i s e c o n t r o v e r s y a n d increase acceptability, these accounts of moral purpose had best be free  of indebtedness  because  humanists are  to  any  particular moral theory.  Furthermore,  going to continue to i n s i s t that morality i s  properly concerned only  with matters pertaining to the  welfare of  human beings, concern for our own welfare i s going to have to be at least part of any broadly acceptable statement of moral purpose. Such a concern may, initially, seem contrary to the  goals of sentientism  and the movement from ecology. However, a l l parties to t h i s debate should be able to agree that morality — which i s , as humanists point out, a human artifact — must promote a beneficial and rewarding way of life for those who are guided by i t , whatever else i t does or does not achieve. Any group of people which adopts a morality that does not promote a b e n e f i c i a l way of l i f e f o r t h e m i s e i t h e r  g o i n g to  be  unusually short l i v e d or quick to adopt a different point of view. Thus, the need for further support which i s shared by the accounts of  moral scope converges on a clearly anthropocentric  morality  must promote a generally beneficial g  individuals whose lives are guided by i t .  requirement:  way of life  for  those  In consequence, there i s a  significant commonality between the movements and positions discussed i n t h i s e n q u i r y . What i s more, i t i s a commonality which promises the new vantage p o i n t a n d c r i t e r i o n of a c c e p t a b i l i t y d i s c u s s e d at  the  s t a r t of the chapter because i t should be possible to evaluate each of the different accounts of moral scope against the need to promote a beneficial  way o f l i f e  for  humans.  Initially,  this  return  to  anthropocentrism may seem a total collapse of both the movement from i n t e r e s t a n d t h e movement from e c o l o g y i n t h e f a c e of Chapter Nine  humanist 195  intransigence; however, I am going to argue that i s not the case. The trick  i s to  use  this  initially  morality's purpose to support  anthropocentric  a radically generous  thus, offering a means of resolving the impasse  conception  of  moral franchise;  which debate over  moral standing has reached. In sum, t h e n , i f i t c a n be shown t h a t h u m a n s  will,  generally  speaking, be better off i n consequence of moral expansion, then there w i l l be a r e a s o n f o r i n c r e a s i n g t h e humanists c a n be a s k e d to a c c e p t . c r i t e r i o n with which to decide t h e  moral f r a n c h i s e Furthermore,  which  even  we w i l l h a v e  a p p r o x i m a t e f i n a l s i z e of  a  the  franchise because i t should be at least as large as the concern for human welfare will j u s t i f y . THE ARGUMENT FROM PRAGMATISM A Logical Difficulty However, g r o u n d i n g moral e x p a n s i o n i n a n a p p e a l t o r a t i o n a l concern for our own, human, well-being i s logically problematic. This is  b e c a u s e (as  has  been  the  case t h r o u g h o u t  this  enquiry)  enfranchising an entity means finding reason to consider i t i n itself, or for non-instrumental reasons. Thus, to claim that an entity should be enfranchised because doing so will ultimately benefit humans i s to claim, i n a seeming paradox, that the entity should be considered for non-instrumental reasons which have an ultimately instrumental basis. Winkler's Suggestion E a r l Winkler has r e c e n t l y p r o p o s e d t h a t t h i s p a r a d o x i s o n l y apparent, and that an appeal to human welfare can be used to ground 9  the moral standing of entities. In Winkler's own words: Current environmental crises create the possibility of another strategy for expanding what we recognise Chapter Nine  196  from t h e moral p o i n t of view as v a l u a b l e a n d deserving of respect for what i t i s i n itself, and not for instrumental reasons. Here one can offer an account of ' i n t r i n s i c v a l u e ' i n t e r m s of t h e i r b e i n g r e a s o n f o r a l l or most p e o p l e t o v a l u e x i n t r i n s i c a l l y . Then one explains that there i s no paradox i n offering perfectly general, long term, elevated instrumental r e a s o n s to value t h i n g s intrinsically I n o t h e r w o r d s , we c a n u s e i n s t r u m e n t a l reason to t r a n s c e n d i n s t r u m e n t a l r e a s o n . So n o w , i n l i g h t o f o u r current predicament, there may be sufficient reasons for a l l , or most of us, to v a l u e l i v i n g t h i n g s a n d nature i n general i n t r i n s i c a l l y . To use Winkler's own examples, he i s saying that moral expansion can be j u s t i f i e d by u s i n g t h e k i n d of i n s t r u m e n t a l  reasoning  c o n t r a c t a r i a n apologia f o r r a t i o n a l m o r a l i t y i n v o k e a n d  which  which, in  a e s t h e t i c s , i s used to p r o v i d e a b a s i s f o r i n t r i n s i c v a l u a t i o n s of art. Furthermore, i t i s reasonable to t h i n k that humans,  themselves,  are a s c r i b e d ' i n h e r e n t v a l u e ' b e c a u s e , o v e r a l l , i t s e r v e s o u r  best  interests to view and treat each other t h i s way. Unpacked, a little, t h e n , W i n k l e r ' s p o i n t i s t h a t a p r o c e s s of i n s t r u m e n t a l  reasoning  analogous to one we are already familiar with can be used to argue as follows: -  C o n t i n u i n g human welfare d e p e n d s u p o n t h e  w e l l - b e i n g of t h e  nonhuman world, and of the flora and fauna which comprise and sustain it. Granting  moral s t a n d i n g to t h o s e e n t i t i e s  is a rational  and  efficient way of protecting them from abuse and destruction. T h e r e f o r e , at a c e r t a i n l e v e l of p h i l o s o p h i c a l a b s t r a c t i o n ,  a  c o n c e r n for human welfare j u s t i f i e s g r a n t i n g t h o s e e n t i t i e s moral standing. -  Thus, humanism's original concern for human welfare can be united  with environmental concerns i n order to provide reason to expand the Chapter Nine  197  moral franchise. How The T r i c k Works It i s c r u c i a l to t h i s proposal that we use instrumental about what i s good for humans to transcend the initial concern.  1 0  reasoning  instrumental  This can be done by using instrumental reasoning  about  morality to j u s t i f y the adoption of a p a r t i c u l a r k i n d of m o r a l i t y , namely one which offers n o n - i n s t r u m e n t a l r e a s o n s f o r t a k i n g necessary  entities into account.  It i s t h i s  separation  of  the  reasoning  about morality from actual moral decision making which obviates  the  paradox mentioned above. This k i n d of instrumental reasoning about morality i s discussed i n detail i n a recent  book by  Michael P h i l i p s .  1 1  Philips contrasts  the  more distanced (metaethical or metamoral) What k i n d of morality would be good for people like us? considerations with what i s actually said and done by situated moral agents. He notes that d u r i n g the What k i n d of morality would be good for people like us? discussion, instrumental and consequential reasons can be given for everyday, 'situated', moral practices. These practices themselves  need not, i n any  way, involve  instrumental or consequential reasoning: for example, an instrumental apologia for A r i s t o t l e ' s v i r t u e s m i g h t be o f f e r e d . T h u s , t h e m o r a l notions and principles which guide moral agents' e v e r y d a y , practical decision making may be supplied with rational justifications grounded i n a concern for human well-being and conceptions of the good life. A Pragmatic Emphasis T h i s a p p r o a c h to t h e i n i t i a l q u e s t i o n  i s , to t h e  b e s t of my  knowledge, a n o v e l one, a n d i t b e a r s s u m m a r i s i n g a n d Following  Winkler a n d  Chapter Nine  Philips, the  initial  question  restating.  about  moral  198  standing can be placed within the context of a debate about the form rational morality should take. The attempt to answer the question may then begin with an initially anthropocentric conception of morality's p u r p o s e : morality i s about a c t i n g i n c o n c e r t  with other  rational  agents i n order to promote our own good and the good of those we hold dear. Those who seek radical moral expansion must then show that replacing  the  original  anthropocentric  e c o c e n t r i c one i s j u s t i f i a b l e i n t e r m s  conception  with  a  more  of m o r a l i t y ' s i n i t i a l  goal.  This more ecocentric perspective then becomes part of everyday moral thought,  attitudes,  and practice. I s h a l l  call this  strategy  the  12 'argument from pragmatism'. scope generally, the  argument  Note that, like the accounts of moral from  pragmatism i s not intended  to  answer the question, Why be moral at all? It i s a possible way of responding to those who are already committed to acting morally, but want to know why morality should enfranchise nonhumans, particularly nonsentient nonhumans. The Division Of Duties A n d Strategies It i s now essential to recognise that i n itself the argument from pragmatism w i l l not p r o v i d e r e a s o n s f o r s i t u a t e d m o r a l a g e n t s t o enfranchise situated  nonhuman entities. Those reasons  moral p r i n c i p l e s , b e l i e f s , o r  must be supplied by  attitudes.  T h e j o b of  the  argument from pragmatism i s only to show that there i s good reason why such principles, beliefs, or attitudes  s h o u l d be a p a r t of h u m a n  m o r a l i t y . T h i s d i v i s i o n of d u t i e s i s n o t h a i r s p l i t t i n g . I t i s t h i n g to s a y , A r a t i o n a l morality w o u l d e n c o m p a s s t h e  one  following  p r i n c i p l e s , b e l i e f s , or a t t i t u d e s . I t i s q u i t e a n o t h e r t h i n g t o s a y , You should enfranchise nonhuman entities because doing so i s supported Chapter Nine  199  by  the following principles, beliefs, or attitudes.  Whereas the  latter  is an introduction to direct reason for moral expansion, the former i s not. But, the former i s a possible introduction to a way of showing sceptics  why everyday  morality should embrace  a  more  ecosophist  outlook than i s presently the case. What i s more, promoting a recognition that an ecologically generous  more  outlook should be part of e v e r y d a y , rational morality, i s  going to encourage accept the  rationale  ' p s y c h i c ' or  'cognitive' dissonance i n any  while continuing to act  principles, beliefs, and attitudes.  according to  Remember that t h i s i s an  who  contrary adjunct  to moral argument which Singer invokes, and i t i s , I t h i n k , a useful 13 one.  Thus, the argument from pragmatism not only involves a division  of duties, i t also promotes moral change i n two different ways. F i r s t , the argument seeks to harmonise moral expansion with a conception of morality's purpose which humanism should be able to accept, and which other parties to the debate should also recognise as a necessary of any rational conception of human morality. Second, the will also tend to encourage  part  argument  intellectual and emotional discomfort i n  any who tend to accept i t s conclusions but s t i l l adhere to a more ecologically limited conception of everyday morality. Recasting The Initial Question In utilising t h i s pragmatic approach to moral expansion, I find i t helpful to focus on a r e v i s e d version of the i n i t i a l question. Rather than simply asking which entities are  morally considerable, we can  distance ourselves from our own immediate beliefs and committments as situated moral agents, and help b r i n g pragmatic, instrumental concerns to the fore, with a change of emphasis. Henceforth, t h i s e n q u i r y will Chapter Nine  200  suppose an enhanced capacity to direct the moral education of future generations, and ask: Suppose that we had absolute freedom to frame the morality which would be the point of departure for moral debate and subsequent development i n our c h i l d r e n ' s generation and would, i f found acceptable to t h e i r adult selves, be the morality they l i v e d b y : What account of moral scope would we provide them with? T h i s f o r m u l a t i o n of t h e  initial  question  has  two s i g n i f i c a n t  14 virtues.  For one t h i n g , i t achieves the theoretical abstraction from  situated morality which the pragmatic strategy requires. In doing so, the question also helps to distance us from our own immediate moral beliefs and committments. This distance may prove useful i f we want to know what rational morality would involve for people l i k e us because our own p r i o r moral education and experience can be d i s t r a c t i n g , and can cloud our judgement. For another t h i n g , by i n v o k i n g concern for our progeny, the question helps us to concentrate on sustainable human welfare.  That is  precisely  environmental degradation  what  is  which, I have  most  threatened  suggested,  by  the  is currently  a  large part of the motive for seeking an expanded ethic. As adults, many of us can hope to be dead before the worst of the environmental prognoses are tested; i t i s our c h i l d r e n who will learn t h e i r t r u t h or 15 falsehood. A COMPROMISE (IS ALWAYS) OPEN TO OBJECTIONS A Renewed Objective At the r i s k of repetition (and the novelty of the approach I am proposing can lead to misunderstanding), let me stress that both the pragmatic strategy  i n general, and the  reformulated i n i t i a l  question  i n particular, are designed to focus our attention on elucidating that Chapter Nine  201  account of moral scope  which b e s t s e r v e s  long-term, rationally  understood, human needs. This i s i n marked contrast to seeking an account of human morality which i s already inherent i n , or entailed by, any existing moral theory more complex than the simple claim that human morality must promote (among other t h i n g s , perhaps, but not least among them) the individually conceived welfare of human beings. With t h i s as our goal, we can go on i n the next chapter to t r y  to  decide the approximate outlines of s u c h an account of moral scope. But f i r s t , there are  some o b j e c t i o n s t o t h i s  approaching the i n i t i a l question  way o f v i e w i n g  and  which should be noted, and, to  a  limited extent, answered, before continuing. The Objection From Instability Proponents of the movement from ecology may object that they seek to establish the moral importance of the nonhuman world per se, and the argument from pragmatism will never really do that because of its o r i g i n i n anthropocentrism. However, as I argued above, and as I shall t r y to demonstrate i n the following chapter, anthropocentrism i s only invoked  in order  justification  for  to  provide a broadly  a potentially e c o c e n t r i c  acceptable,  rational  morality. There  is  no  reason why the final product need be anthropocentric at a l l . (Just how ecocentric a morality the argument from pragmatism supports i s , of course, s t i l l an open question.) Although t h i s response  may allay vitalist and ecosophist worries  to some extent, I doubt that i t can ever do so entirely. To see why, suppose that the argument from pragmatism could be shown to support an account of moral scope e x t e n d i n g c o n s i d e r a t i o n w e l l b e y o n d  the  mattering gap. The chances are good that s u c h a morality would then  Chapter Nine  202  entail choosing between  maintaining certain human communities and  healing damaged ecosystems, and the v e r d i c t might well be that we should heal the damaged ecosystem at the expense of short-term human interests and at a cost to i n d i v i d u a l s . ^ However, because t h i s k i n d 1  of ecosophist morality would finally ground i n a concern for human welfare, there would then be a powerful temptation to d i t c h our more immediate, ecologically focused principles, i n favour of the  original  concern. Those who favour a more radical r e s t r u c t u r i n g of morality than that envisaged by the argument from pragmatism will point to t h i s as a serious problem. A n d they are r i g h t . The inherent temptation to unravel whatever pragmatism might construct should be a serious worry for any who seek to protect nonhuman entities by granting them moral standing. It i s reasonable to fear that an ethic which can be built up on  a basis of anthropocentric concern can be undone  when human  interests are at stake. 'Insulation' A n d A New Conception Of 'The Good Life' Part of the answer to the problem, I t h i n k , i s to reduce both the temptation and the instability of what i s constructed by ' i n s u l a t i n g ' the final ethic from i t s origins as thoroughly as possible. Following a  general t r e n d i n the  movement from ecology, the  pragmatism c a n be u s e d to r a t i o n a l l y j u s t i f y  argument  from  a more ' b i o c e n t r i c  outlook' and a 'fundamental attitude' of moral concern for nonhuman entities which will then be the immediate basis for t h e i r moral status i n everyday, 'situated' moral thought. In consequence, I urge that any attempt to achieve moral expansion using the argument from pragmatism must make i t a p r i o r i t y to establish that a more biocentric outlook, and  an adequately  Chapter Nine  protective fundamental  attitude,  are  rational  203  constituents of the basic stuff of e v e r y d a y , situated  moral thought.  Furthermore, i t must become part of the fundamental attitude to view 'undoing' morality for the sake of purely human — and particularly short-term and narrowly conceived — interests as morally repugnant. It may also help a l l e v i a t e v i t a l i s t a n d e c o s o p h i s t r e c o g n i s e t h a t what i s t h o u g h t to c o n s t i t u t e  the  worries to  'good life  for  humans' i s likely to change consequent on moral agents developing a more biocentric outlook and moral attitude. A healthy biosphere tends to become more c r u c i a l to one's personal sense of well being as the k i n d of perspective advocated by vitalists and ecosophists i s adopted. Thus, moral expansion may entail that i t will rarely make sense to trade off environmental well being even when other human  interests  must be sacrificed i n order to maintain i t . Pleasing Neither Side T r a d i t i o n a l humanists may now o b j e c t t h a t I am t a l k i n g a b o u t setting aside the raison d'etre of humanism, and the humanist view of moral purpose, i n favour of ecosophy. True; I never promised that the movement from pragmatism would leave humanism untouched, quite the c o n t r a r y . The movement from pragmatism i s a way of t r y i n g to show that setting aside traditional forms of humanism might be a step which i s rationally most consistent Winkler's talk of the  with humanism's own raison d'etre. Hence  movement from  pragmatism  'transcending'  its  origins. But I am not so naive as to t h i n k that humanists will welcome my suggestion with open arms; there will be much left to argue about. On the other side of the mattering gap, some radical expansionists are going to be equally unhappy with my proposal. They will want an ethic, and assignations of moral standing, which absolutely guarantee  Chapter Nine  204  the nonhuman world against human depredation. Although I t h i n k that I understand (and often share) that desire, I see no way to realise i t . Given the  prevalence of the belief that morality's chief function i s  to promote human welfare, and i n advance of the k i n d of moral change which c u r r e n t attempts to achieve moral expansion might b r i n g ,  the  argument from pragmatism seems to be the best that we can hope for. The Objection From Prudence A second objection to the  pragmatic strategy  arises  because  it  must claim that humans will be benefited by moral expansion and that these benefits  are  unlikely to be achieved i n any other  way. The  latter may be contested. Granted we need to safeguard our environment, i t will be said, but there i s no need to change our morality i n order to do t h a t . Simple p r u d e n c e a n d c a l c u l a t i o n s of s e l f - i n t e r e s t  are  sufficient. But are they? If we offer our c h i l d r e n an essentially humanist (or sentientist) ethic, which teaches that nonhuman entities only have a strictly  limited instrumental s i g n i f i c a n c e f o r  human  affairs  (or  insofar as they can suffer) and no (other) source of moral importance i n themselves, then the chances are good that our children will act pretty much as we have. They will seek to maximise short-term human interest satisfaction i n the face of overwhelming ignorance about the possible consequences of t h e i r actions, and they will invoke small, or e v e n n o n e x i s t e n t , safety margins t o p r o t e c t t h e e n v i r o n m e n t . T h e consequences of t h i s k i n d of a p p r o a c h a r e b e c o m i n g i n c r e a s i n g l y apparent, and they are precisely what i s motivating the search for a different k i n d of moral outlook: wilderness and species are vanishing at an alarming rate, pollution i s endemic, and we may have initiated  Chapter Nine  205  atmospheric and climatic changes we do not understand. It may be a devalued cliche, but earth i s our only home, and i t i s the source of e v e r y t h i n g we need. In that case, the wiser course i s to e r r on t h e s i d e of safety a n d w o r r y more a b o u t p r e s e r v i n g o u r environment than maximising short-term interest satisfaction. A n ethic which grants moral standing (and 'inherent value') to the entities we rely on i s one way to encourage a safer approach. Of Hubris A n d Myopia Again, t h i s point i s so important that i t i s worth repeating. I am suggesting that humans appear to be so constituted that we will do best, i n the long r u n , by adopting, and by creating i n ourselves, the k i n d of a t t i t u d e of ' r e s p e c t ' f o r t h i n g s n o n h u m a n w h i c h R o l s t o n , 17 Taylor, and the deep ecologists describe.  There i s , i n us, a notable  tendency to h u b r i s untouched by our enormous ignorance; a tendency to overvalue present  needs a n d i n t e r e s t s  c o m p a r e d to f u t u r e  ones  (particularly so far as our c h i l d r e n ' s futures are concerned); and a tendency to underestimate r i s k s under the influence of more immediate concerns and pressures. We need a framework to guide and inform our dealings with nature now  which will act to mitigate these characteristics  that population size and our powerful technology make us  so  dangerous. Thus, we need something more than a mere bare ascription of i n s t r u m e n t a l v a l u e to t h e e n v i r o n m e n t a l e n t i t i e s we so o b v i o u s l y depend upon. Of Unpredictability There i s a further aspect to t h i s need for caution i n our dealings with the nonhuman world which we should note. So little i s known about the long term consequences of human-instigated environmental change Chapter Nine  206  that we are highly unlikely to be able to discover precisely what i t i s safe to d