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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 Univers i ty of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1975 B . E d . , The Univers i ty of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1993 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Philosophy) We accept t h i s thes is as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA June 1995 copyright:(c) Perraton Mountford, 1995 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date DE-6 (2/88) ABSTRACT The quest ion What k inds of t h i n g s are mora l ly i m p o r t a n t i n themselves? (People? Al l sentient creatures? Trees? A l l l i v ing things? Ecosystems? Mountains? Rivers? Pebbles? Old cans?) i s pressing. Thanks to 'animal r ights ' 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 ( a l l 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 ) , a n d E C O S O P H I S M ( a l l l i v i n g individuals plus some natural 'systems' and, perhaps, certain non-l iv ing natural entities). These answers are carefully developed and contain many persuasive elements. However, c r i t ica l exploration of representative li terature reveals that each answer i s predicated on a distinct and different view of morality's purpose, and we are rationally free to reject any (or all) of those views. In consequence , debate s t a l l s . S h o r t of question-begging appeals to f i rs t principles, the positions fal l back on tou t ing the i r re la t ive mer i ts . The bes t we can say i s tha t humanists extending consideration to al l humans will face difficulty r e s i s t i n g s e n t i e n t i s m , b u t e v e n s e n t i e n t i s m i s n o t r a t i o n a l l y incumbent. Once we look beyond life-forms to whom events can matter i n some way, expansionist arguments clearly fai l to speak to humanist (and sentientist) concerns. Because humanism (and, to a lesser extent, sentientism) is informed by longstanding tradit ion, a considerable burden of proof impedes expansionist ambitions. The expansionist programme requires f inding common ground; ground i i which i s not obviously i n evidence. To conclude, I offer an explicitly tenta t ive suggest ion for beg inn ing to 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) achieve, ra t ional morality promotes human w e l l - b e i n g . A n d i t i s 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 t h i s e s s e n t i a l l y a n t h r o p o c e n t r i c v i ew of m o r a l i t y a n d environmentalism be used to determine what kinds of things are morally important i n themselves? Separating our reasoning about morality from situated moral reasoning per se, reveals reason to think the approach can and will support a vitalist , or even ecosophist, account of moral scope. i i i TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract i i Table Of Contents i v Acknowledgements v i Dedication v i i PROLEGOMENON 1 PART ONE: FRAMING AN ENQUIRY 3 Chapter One THE INITIAL QUESTION 3 SOURCES OF CONCERN 4 FOUR KINDS OF ANSWER 7 THE ORDER OF THEIR GOING 13 THE LANGUAGE OF CONSIDERATION 14 THE PROBLEM WITH RIGHTS 17 SEEKING A RAPPROCHEMENT 19 OBJECTIONS AND EXAMPLES 24 Chapter Two GOODPASTER'S DISTINCTIONS 28 DISTINCTION 2 (MORAL SIGNIFICANCE) 28 DISTINCTION 3 (INTELLIGIBILITY) 31 DISTINCTION 4 (REGULATIVE CONSIDERATION) 36 PART TWO: THE MOVEMENT FROM INTEREST 46 Chapter Three HUMANISM AND COMMUNITY 46 MELDEN'S MORAL HUMANISM 47 PUSHING AT THE BOUNDARIES 51 IS MELDEN REALLY A HUMANIST? 58 GENETIC HUMANISM 64 Chapter Four SENTIENTISM IN THE UTILITARIAN TRADITION 70 AN EVOLVING CRITERION 71 HEDONIC SENTIENTISM 73 INTEREST-BASED SENTIENTISM 79 SOFT (NON-PARTISAN) SENTIENTISM 88 Chapter F ive SENTIENTISM WITHOUT AGGREGATION 95 CAN HUMAN LIFE BE LEGITIMATELY SACRIFICED? 96 TRIAL BY SHIPWRECK 99 THE INHERENT VALUE OF HUMAN LIFE 104 SEEKING A BASIS FOR HUMAN VALUE 107 AN UNFINISHED WORK? 110 MORALS AND CONCLUSIONS 114 PART THREE: THE MOVEMENT FROM ECOLOGY 121 Chapter S ix LOOKING BEYOND AFFECT 121 THE MATTERING GAP 121 FEINBERG'S ARGUMENT 123 SUMNER'S VIA MEDIA 129 GOODPASTER'S ARGUMENT 133 CLEARING A PATH 138 Chapter Seven VITALISM: A DIFFERENT KIND OF STRATEGY 143 ROLSTON'S VITALISM 144 TAYLOR'S VITALISM 155 AN UNACKNOWLEDGED COHERENCE WITH TRADITION 161 Chapter Eight ECOSOPHISM 168 ECOSOPHISM BY STAGES 169 BRENNAN'S ARGUMENT 175 DEEP (AND TRANSPERSONAL) ECOLOGY 178 PART FOUR: THE MOVEMENT FROM PRAGMATISM ( P o s s i b i l i t i e s Of A New Direct ion) 186 Chapter Nine TRANSCENDING INSTRUMENTALISM 186 TWO CHOICES 187 REVIEWING AND EXTENDING FINDINGS 189 THE ARGUMENT FROM PRAGMATISM 196 A COMPROMISE (IS ALWAYS) OPEN TO OBJECTIONS 201 Chapter Ten DEEP HUMANISM 211 A TENTATIVE AND CONSERVATIVE PROGRAMME 211 A REORGANISED MOVEMENT FROM ECOLOGY 213 A PLACE, AND A ROLE, FOR COMPASSION 222 CONFLICT AND OTHER CONSEQUENCES 227 NOTES 236 BIBLIOGRAPHY 270 v ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS There are many to thank . F i r s t , A v a P e r r a t o n , fo r not on ly supporting me financially and emotionally while I completed the job, but for r i s ing so well and so graciously to the tasks of proof-reader and jobbing-cr i t ic . Second, I thank my committee. This enquiry as a whole, and Part Four i n particular, owe a great debt to the years of collaboration with my supervisor, Ear l Winkler. That I stayed with this project for so long is i n large part due to the sustained and tireless support of Roi Daniels; i t is hard 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 regarding what are, after a l l , some quite controversial proposals. T h i r d , I thank the f r i ends and co l l eagues who have r ead and discussed parts of this work with me. In particular, Susan Collard helped me f ind 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. v i DEDICATION To the memory of C. K. R. (Ken) Pierce — teacher, p r i e s t , and excel lent f r iend — wi th whom I began t h i s conversation. And for 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 Liv ing God, duly and daily serving him. For at the f i rs t glance of the glory of God i n the East he worships i n his way. For i s this 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 this 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 icks up behind to clear away there. For th i rd ly 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 interrupted upon the beat. For eightly he rubs 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 kiss 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 dal lying. For when his day's work is done his business more properly begins. For he keeps the Lord 's watch i n the night against the adversary. For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical sk in and glaring eyes. For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by br i sk ing 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 ibe 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 purrs i n thankfulness, when God te l l him he's a good Cat. For he i s an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon. For every house is incomplete without him and a blessing is lacking i n the spir i t . For the Lord commanded Moses concerning the cats at the departure of the Children of Israel from Egypt . For every family had one cat at least i n the bag. For the Engl ish 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 is an instance of the love of God to him exceedingly. 1 For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature. For he i s tenacious of his point. For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery. For he knows that God is his Saviour. For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest. For there is nothing br isker than his life when i n motion. For he is of the Lord 's poor and so indeed is he called by benevolence perpetually—Poor Jeoffry! poor Jeoffry! the rat has bit thy throat. For I bless the name of the Lord Jesus that Jeoffry is better. For the divine sp i r i t comes about his body to sustain i t i n complete cat. For his tongue is exceeding pure so that i t has i n puri ty what i t wants i n music. For he is docile and can learn certain things. For he can set up with gravi ty , which is patience upon approbation. For he can fetch and car ry , which is patience i n employment. For he can jump over a st ick, which is 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 is hated by the hypocrite and miser. For the former is afraid of detection. For the latter refuses the charge. For he camels his back to bear on the f i rs t notion of business. For he is good to think on, i f a man would express himself neatly. For he made a great figure i n Egypt for his signal services. For he ki l led the ichneumon-rat very pernicious by land. For his ears are so acute that they sting again. For from this proceeds the passing quickness of his attention. For by stroking him I have found out electricity. For I perceived God's l ight about him both wax and fire. For the electrical fire i s the spir i tual 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 ly , 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 al l the measures upon the music. For he can swim for l ife. For he can creep. . Christopher Smart (1722-1771) 2 PART ONE: FRAMING AN ENQUIRY Chapter One THE INITIAL QUESTION This enqu i ry wi l l soon give ' c o n s i d e r i n g ' J eo f f ry a t e c h n i c a l meaning i n addition to any (likely sense) intended by Smart, and many of t h e r e a s o n s f o r c o n s i d e r i n g J e o f f r y w i l l a c q u i r e s p e c i a l significance. But, for now, i n the everyday sense, consider another cat, Tr i lby , who shared my desk throughout much of the enquiry. Tr i lby was abandoned on the freeway, soon after g iving b i r th , and taken to a humane socie ty . Only las t -minute adop t ion s a v e d a w i t h d r a w n 'unadoptable' cat from euthanasia when space was needed for new a r r i v a l s . La ter , when T r i l b y was dea th ly i l l at 3 a.m., the animal hospital offered to euthanise her on credit , but they wanted cash or a charge card for treatment. Years later, the neighbours clearly thought sorrow misplaced when hungry coyotes ended her life. Tr i lby i l lustrates how nonhumans, i n themselves, are traditionally granted li t t le moral importance: their suffering matters to some, but o b v i o u s l y no t e v e r y o n e , a n d t h e i r l i v e s a r e deemed of s m a l l consequence. When simpler creatures than cats are i n question, there is 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 th ing being morally important i n itself. But i s t h i s the best that r a t iona l mora l i ty can do to p r o t e c t other creatures and the nonhuman world i n general? Not everyone is sa t i s f ied , and the quest ion, Which e n t i t i e s , and k i n d s of e n t i t i e s , are morally important i n themselves? , i s becoming a c e n t r a l and controversial one i n ethics. This question may also be phrased as Chapter One 3 metaphors, How broad is the moral umbrella?. How big is the moral franchise?, or, i n terms used i n the current philosophical l i terature, Which entities, and kinds of entities, possess 'moral standing' or are 'morally considerable'. However i t i s framed, I sha l l c a l l t h i s ' the i n i t i a l q u e s t i o n ' . This enquiry will offer a cr i t ical exploration of the major answers to the i n i t i a l quest ion 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 develops between those p o s i t i o n s , and ten ta t ive ly outl ine a possible 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 the task, I shall briefly sketch the ini t ia l question's provenance, then describe a terminology to use i n discussing i t . That should make good my claim that the question is a central one and will introduce the issues i t raises. SOURCES OF CONCERN 'Animal Rights ' P e r h a p s t h e most p r o m i n e n t s o u r c e of b o t h p o p u l a r a n d philosophical interest i n the ini t ia l question i s the 'animal r ights ' l i terature and movement. One measure of the movement i s the way consumer resistance is persuading manufacturers to reduce product testing on l ive subjects and the growing hostility to methods used i n 2 raising nonhumans for food. As we shortly f ind, contemporary moral philosophy supports this concern for nonhuman welfare by arguing that creatures capable of suffering also warrant moral concern. But why is widespread interest i n nonhuman welfare developing now, when moral phi losophy i s a l ready thousands of yea r s o ld? In p a r t , u t i l i t a r i a n moral theory is 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 ent i t led to p r iv i l ege , as most e t h i c s and r e l i g i o n s have traditionally taught. Alongside this development, and perhaps partly causative of i t , there is also a growing perception that human k ind has developed technology so powerful that i t stands i n immediate need 3 of careful d i rec t ion and con t ro l . In p a r t i c u l a r , as t e c h n o l o g y expands, human kind increases i ts ability to sustain, destroy, and modify ent i t ies . Within the l i fet imes of s c h o o l c h i l d r e n , e n t i t i e s 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 rain forest of the Canadian west-coast i s s imi l a r ly e n d a n g e r e d , to t ake j u s t two examples. Closer to home, perhaps, we i n the industr ia l nations eat i n c r e a s i n g l y m o d i f i e d f o o d s t h a n k s to i n t e n s i v e f a r m i n g a n d manipulation of food products. And our families are shaped by medical technologies which suppor t p r e v i o u s l y u n v i a b l e bab ies and of fer controlled reproduction. The v i s i b i l i t y of t h i s burgeon ing power , 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 is to be used responsibly, then i t would help to have an ethic capable of gu id ing us, and one job t h a t e th i c must do i s identify 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 who may never Chapter One 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 i ts own impetus to the ini t ia l question, with fetal moral status becoming a central issue. Although at least one philosopher has sought to argue that fetal moral status is not the 4 central issue of the abortion debate, the provocative originali ty of that claim has ha rd ly slowed the s e a r c h fo r an accoun t of moral standing. This enquiry will not be concerned with the abortion debate o r f e t a l m o r a l s t a t u s p e r se , b u t a s i g n i f i c a n t p a r t of t h e argumentation we must deal with has i ts origins i n the search for a 5 principled way of assigning fetal moral status. Ecosophy A th i rd 'high-profi le ' source of interest i n the init ial question i s environmental degradation. Environmental concern has occasioned a recent marriage between the science of ecology and philosophy, giving us what some ca l l ' ecosophy ' , or ' e c o l o g i c a l wisdom' . The i s s u e s germane to ecosophy may not yet be so philosophically popular as the abortion debate, but the attention paid them is growing rapidly. In both philosophy and the press, ecosophy's concern for dwindling trees, dying waters, and dead species i s an increasingly prominent theme. But despite their shared concern, ecosophy and the popular press t e n d to v i ew e n v i r o n m e n t a l i s s u e s q u i t e d i f f e r e n t l y , a n d t h e difference i s s ign i f ican 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 usual ly runs alongside an a t tempt to j u s t i f y i t s e l f by reference to the long-term benefits which environmental 'resources' offer humankind. Where would we be without them? is the refrain.** Chapter One 6 Occasionally, someone suggests that concern might be justified on aesthetic g rounds , but that only o f fe r s ano the r v e r s i o n of the •resource' argument. 7 By contrast, much ecosophical argument i s designed to show why natural entities are morally important for their own sakes, not just for ours. Arne Naess (who coined the term 'ecosophy' and initiated 'deep ecology') has written that, "Every l iv ing being should have an g equal r ight to l ive and f lourish." , and many ecosophists go on to offer reasons for extending moral concern to non- l iv ing things as well. It is the philosophical distance between this desideratum and the traditional concern for human welfare (and, perhaps, the welfare of other suf f ic ien t ly sent ient c r e a t u r e s ) wh ich w i l l p r o v e a major 9 impediment to univocally answering the ini t ia l question. FOUR KINDS OF ANSWER A Taxonomy Contemporary academic philosophy is responding to these concerns with a var ie ty of what I ca l l ' accounts of moral scope ' o f f e r i n g principled answers to the ini t ia l question. A preview of what they i nvo lve , beginning with a simple taxonomy, w i l l p r o v i d e a handy context for future discussion. If the var ious accounts 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 ind of answer to the in i t ia l question which i s supported by p a r t i c u l a r 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 , a n d - - w i t h two m i n o r exceptions — each more generous g r o u p comple te ly o v e r l a p s i t s predecessors .^ Thus, the different ranges of entities protected by 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 this work i ts title.) Here is a brief introduction to the four kinds 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 essent ia l s imi la r i ty i s that human c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s wh ich a re 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 is sometimes called 'speciesism', but the term is per jora t ive .^ SENTIENTISM, roughly speaking, enfranchises al l creatures capable of su f fe r ing . Jeremy Bentham i s wide ly r e g a r d e d as the f i r s t sent ient is t . William Frankena , Tom Regan , Pe te r S i n g e r , Geoff rey Warnock and a number of other contemporary moral philosophers are also sentientists. It i s a popular, ' l iberal ' view, and perhaps the nearest that philosophy comes to a current consensus on the ini t ia l question. 13 The name 'sentientism' i s common i n the li terature. VITALISM enfranchises al l l iv ing individuals , hence the name of this 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 usually thought of as) individual organisms. Some ecosophists argue that there are even non- l iv ing , na tura l ly o c c u r r i n g ent i t ies which 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 ecosophist , and so i s h is i n t e r p r e t e r Warwick Fox . As the name suggests , ecosophism i s informed p r i m a r i l y by e n v i r o n m e n t a l and ecological c o n c e r n . 1 4 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 sentientism as j o i n t l y f o r m i n g a 'movement f rom interest ' , and to think of vitalism and ecosophism as jointly forming a 'movement from ecology'. Hence the names given to Parts Two and Three of the enquiry. Explaining The Clustering This clustering into four main kinds of account is by no means an inevitable consequence of t ry ing to answer the ini t ia l question, so why does i t occur? Par t of 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 w h i c h s u p p o r t e a c h a c c o u n t a r e s u f f i c i e n t to enfranchise many different kinds of entity. For example, i f we quit humanism because nonhuman suffering seems morally significant, i t i s difficult to provide principled, persuasive reasons for limiting moral concern to a particular group of sentient nonhumans rather than to al l creatures capable of suffering. It i s as though the moral umbrella s t icks when we t r y to open i t , then opens with a rush when we apply enough force. But the umbrella soon st icks again: the other half of the answer i s that the theore t ica l c o n s i d e r a t i o n s wh ich s u p p o r t expansion falter, or fail to have relevance altogether, three times. The Three Major Breaks These breaks in 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 is the main business of my enquiry. Chapter One 9 Contemporary sentientism attempts to overcome the f i rs t break primarily by appealing to the moral relevance of al l psychologically grounded interests notwithstanding who, or what, may hold them. Later, I sha l l argue that a fundamental moral d i sagreement 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 transit ion. The second break — between sen t i en t i sm and v i t a l i s m - - i s current ly a major source of controversy. To understand why, think of sentientism as extending cons ide ra t ion to a l l e n t i t i e s capab le of exper iencing what i s done to them, t h i n g s to whom what we do 15 matters. Vitalism finds this insufficient, ci t ing reasons to extend moral protect ion to non-sent ient l i v i n g t h i n g s to wh ich n o t h i n g matters, or ever cou ld . A tree i s the 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: unt i l now, moral concern has always been limited to organisms with some psychological capacity, and, seemingly quite suddenly, vitalists (and ecosophists) are claiming other r e l e v a n t q u a l i t i e s . T h u s , the separation between sentientism and vitalism — which I shall cal l the 'mattering gap' — is profound. To those on the sentientist side of the gap i t appears an unbridgable chasm whereas to those on the vitalist side i t seems largely irrelevant. The final break — between vitalism and ecosophism — is current ly causing less argument than the mattering gap; however, i f enough Chapter One 10 people become persuaded that the mattering gap is crossable, then the spli t between vitalism and ecosophism may become a major issue. This is because whereas humanism, sentientism, and vitalism are almost exclusively concerned with morally significant individuals (according to an ' eve ry day ' , 'common sense ' view of what i n d i v i d u a l s are) ecosophism extends to systems (on an 'every day' understanding). This not only enfranchises morally novel kinds 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 preserving that watershed as an intact ecosystem? As we shall f ind later, i t i s not even clear that the bases of these two d i f f e r e n t c o n c e r n s are commensurable. Radical Disagreement Disagreement over these issues i s profound, and dispute over the ini t ia l question is sometimes bitter, with the 'principle of chari ty ' often observed i n the breach. In conversation, I have heard humanists d i scuss sentientism as though i t were u n i n t e l l i g i b l e , a n d , i n the l i terature, sentientists treat humanism with scant regard. Each sees the other as making a bewildering 'error ' , rather than diverging from a common tradition i n a comprehensible i f wrong-headed way. Between humanists and ecosophists, misunderstanding i s almost guaranteed. 1^ Two general points about this high level of misunderstanding and incomprehension also warrant advance bi l l ing . An Evolutionary Process F i r s t , debate over the i n i t i a l q u e s t i o n may be v i ewed 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 is not only a pressing need to develop an ethic capable of guiding our new powers; there is 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 ind which others can be expected to follow and understand. This pursui t of grounds for moral expansion which are capable of commanding broad understanding, and which can then be presented as worthy of acceptance by al l moral agents, will be a recurrent theme i n the discussion which follows. A Fundamental Issue Second, i t will become apparent during this enquiry that each of the main accounts 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 'fundamental', i n the sense that no more deep-seated justification of them is available. This entails that any attempt to offer deductive support for an account of moral scope quickly becomes quest ion begging . But the a l t e rna t i ve , w h i c h i s to set f o r t h the particular vir tues of an account, may well fail to satisfy, or even be fully comprehended by, cr i t ics who hold very different views. This problem, too, will be a recurrent theme. It will emerge as a major obstacle to the broad understanding mentioned above. Chapter One 12 THE ORDER OF THEIR GOING Conducting An Impartial, Cr i t ica l Exploration It remains to make some brief comments about the way this enquiry will be conducted. In the interest of impartiality, I must t r y to set aside my own bias. I would l ike to f ind that there are adequate moral resources for crossing the mattering gap and, ideally, moving a l l the way to ecosophism. But this desire i s based on love for the nonhuman world more than on the k ind of philosophical considerations which are needed here. In order to t ry 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 cr i t ic i n probing i ts weaknesses. My hope is that this 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 problems inheren t i n c u r r e n t attempts to answer the 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 enquiry, i n Part Four, I sha l l ske tch the out l ines of an a l t e r n a t i v e way of t r e a t i n g the ini t ia l question which offers some hope of reconciliation between the disputants. Then I shall ask briefly how generous an answer to the ini t ia 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 purpose. What I have to say i n P a r t F o u r i s tentat ive and at times specula t ive i n n a t u r e . The i n f o r m i n g t a sk r e m a i n s a r e l a t i v e l y n o n - p a r t i s a n , c r i t i c a l a p p r a i s a l of Chapter One 13 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 rs t , little reference wi l l be made to v i r t u e - b a s e d sys tems of e t h i c s . T h i s i s because a v i r tue -based approach to mora l i ty en t a i l s no p a r t i c u l a r answer to the ini t ia l question and is compatible with any of the four main accounts . V i r tue -based e th i c s of fer a ca ta logue of human characteristics and qualities which are a recipe for 'being a good human be ing ' or ' l i v i n g the good l i f e ' , and i t i s t h e o r e t i c a l l y possible to cons t ruc t the rec ipe i n acco rdance wi th any chosen account. The second omission i s that n o t h i n g s a i d here 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 ini t ia l 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 ini t ia l question. Thi rd , and final ly, the enquiry will not discuss ecofeminism. This i s not meant to disparage ecofeminism's i m p o r t a n t a t tempt to 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 ini t ia l 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 cen t ra l terms which wil l be u sed to d i s c u s s i t . A l t h o u g h the 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 he i r meaning needs to be a n c h o r e d more precisely. I shall do this by adopting what I call 'the language of cons idera t ion ' . I ts o r ig ins are i n an o f t - q u o t e d 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 apply" i s , of course, the ini t ia l question by another name. And the clear sense of Warnock's discussion is that an unstated proviso applies: the question is only concerned with entities which have "moral relevance" or "a claim to be considered" i n (and of) themselves. This proviso is significant, as an example shows. Suppose that my neighbour i s a Cartesian who thinks that cats are morally uninteresting stimulus response mechanisms. Even so, she is k ind to my cat out of regard for me. By her kindness, my neighbour does not confer any moral status on the cat because her concern is for me alone; the cat i s merely instrumental to my well being. This i s a crucial ly 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 ini t ia l question i f she takes account of the cat 'for i ts own sake ' , 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 s h a l l a d o p t t h e f o l l o w i n g d e f i n i t i v e s t a t e m e n t of t h e i n i t i a l question: Chapter One 15 The INITIAL QUESTION asks, If an action. A, will affect an entity, E, what must E be l ike , in (and of) i tself , i n order to p r o v i d e r eason fo r moral 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 this challenge, Kenneth E. Goodpaster is the f i rs t to focus explicitly on the conditions which must be met i n 20 order for something to be deemed "morally considerable". 'Morally considerable ' and two important r e l a t e d t e rms may be de f ined as follows: E i s MORALLY CONSIDERABLE i f and only i f there is sufficient moral reason to take E into account when making a decis ion which w i l l a f fect E , and t h a t reason is grounded i n concern for E i n itself. If and only i f E is morally considerable then E has MORAL STANDING. (Something which is considerable has moral standing; moral standing is the quality of being considerable.) To treat E as a morally considerable entity is to extend E MORAL CONSIDERATION. (Something which is taken in to account, ' for i t s own s a k e ' , t h e r e b y receives moral consideration.) The def ini t ion of 'moral ly cons ide rab le ' a lso makes i t p o s s i b l e to state the i n i t i a l quest ion more b r i e f l y whi le r e t a i n i n g i t s p r ec i s e meaning: The INITIAL QUESTION asks: Which entities, and kinds of entities, are MORALLY CONSIDERABLE? It i s these definitions and this version of the ini t ia l question which are the basis for the language of consideration. Two further points need to be made about them. Fi rs t , although i t i s certainly most natural to say that there is reason to take account of something 'for i ts own sake', or ' i n i ts own r ight ' , and i t may even appear clumsy and pedantic to speak of an entity warranting moral concern " in Chapter One 16 (and of) i t se l f" , i t i s necessary to ph ra se the i n i t i a l d e f i n i t i o n s with care. For example, i t i s h i g h l y ques t ionab le whether a n o n -sentient organism, l ike a tree, has a 'sake' of i ts own, but i t i s as yet an open quest ion whether such t h i n g s w a r r a n t c o n s i d e r a t i o n . S imi la r ly , the app l i cab i l i ty of r i g h t s i s a r g u a b l y qu i t e r e s t r i c t e d . Once the language of consideration is clearly founded, however, more 21 everyday ways of speaking may be adopted where appropriate. Second, 'moral s t and ing ' i s sometimes r e f e r r e d to by i t s s y n o n y m 'mora l consider abil i ty ' 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 have made a significant contribution to the li terature on moral standing, and i t may be said that investigating r ights would be more perspicuous than d i scuss ing the basis of moral c o n s i d e r a t i o n . However , r i g h t s a re problematic i n the context of the ini t ia l question. If we ask, What k ind of entities warrant r ights? rather than, Which entities are considerable?, moral expansion, part icularly beyond the mattering gap, i s made more d i f f i c u l t . T h i s i s because the paradigm rights-bearer is a 'normally' functioning adult human, and t h e f u r t h e r away f r o m 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 more 23 questionable r ights-ascript ions become. Although we are accustomed to 'animal r i g h t s ' , they are usua l ly a s soc ia t ed wi th the h i g h e r mammals, and current usage and r ights-theory do not easily permit r ights ascriptions to be made much lower on the phylogenetic scale Chapter One 17 than mammals. On a standard interpretation, r ights run as far as the mattering gap at best. The Need For Neutrality T h i s l i m i t a t i o n i s c r u c i a l l y i m p o r t a n t f o r v i t a l i s t s a n d ecosophists, who want to enfranchise organisms and entities quite unlike humans. It is difficult enough to argue that nonsentient life is considerable without having to claim, for example, that 'carrots have r ights ' . In consequence, doing justice to vitalism and ecosophism means not presenting or discussing their claims i n terms of r ights . And that entai ls conduct ing at l eas t ha l f of t h i s e n q u i r y wi thout using a r ights vocabulary. Given the need to compare the claims of positions on opposite sides of the mattering gap, there is no way the enquiry can become 'bi l ingual ' , so a single, theory-neutral vocabulary is needed. (Any vocabulary that i s not theory-neutral has scant hope of b e i n g a c c e p t e d by a l l p a r t i e s . ) The l a n g u a g e of ' m o r a l consideration' fits the b i l l , and I doubt whether any other common terminology is 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 ights ' ) , of sentientists (who think that being considerable requ i res the 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 ights ' ) , and of vitalists and ecosophists, (who disagree with both parties). For this reason alone, the language of consideration must be the language of enquiry into moral scope. A Positive Consequence While this makes the negative case for preferring the language of considerat ion (Here i s a need; what else meets i t ? ) , the p o s i t i v e aspect of my choice is also worth stressing. When we ask whether Chapter One 18 something i s morally cons iderable , t h e r e i s no p o s s i b l e b u i l t - i n presupposition that considerable entities must possess a particular quality of any sort: the only pre-requisite for considering something is a morally good reason to do so, and a substantive argument must always be offered for l i n k i n g moral s t a n d i n g to any p a r t i c u l a r 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 ights-theory 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 ights- theory is needed. A basis for one is suggested by a cr i t ical reading of Kenneth E. Goodpaster's brief but fertile attempt to free vitalism from rights-based hindrance to moral expansion. He draws a d i s t i n c t i o n between two d i f f e r e n t senses of ' r ights ' which can be adapted to our present requirements. There i s a "narrower" sense i n which r ights are roughly restricted to humans, and a "wider" sense i n which r ights can be enjoyed by other 25 organisms. Because Goodpaster's discussion is very brief, the nature of t h i s d i s t inc t ion i s best e luc ida ted by l o o k i n g at h i s cho ice of theorists who exemplify the two senses. Narrow Rights Goodpaster 's advocate for nar row r i g h t s i s John Passmore . Discussing the immorality of being cruel to nonhumans, Passmore says that c rue l ty i s wrong because, " . . . c a l l ousnes s , an i n s e n s i b i l i t y to 26 su f fe r ing , i s a moral defect i n a human b e i n g . " He c la ims tha t nonhumans cannot possibly be protected from ill-treatment by granting Chapter One 19 them rights: The idea of "r ights" i s simply not applicable to what is non-human...It i s one thing to say that i t i s wrong to treat animals cruel ly , quite another to say that animals have r ights . The problem is that r ights must be grounded by membership i n a cooperative community, and cooperation is 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 ights ' to the goods and kinds of treatment which facilitate mutually beneficial association. For example, i f benef ic ia l coopera t ive e n d e a v o u r s r e q u i r e , fo r example, freedom from physical assault, then that r ight i s granted to community members; otherwise, i t i s not. Thus, narrow r ights contrast sha rp ly with the language of c o n s i d e r a t i o n . Because t h e r e are no ini t ia l constraints at al l on the k ind of entity which can be deemed considerable, 'moral consideration' i s a weaker notion than 'narrow r ight ' , and so the number of considerable entities i s potentially much larger than the number of narrow rights holders. With this basis for separation established, Goodpaster invites us to set aside the unprofitable question "whether...the class of r igh t s -bearers i s , or ought to be, restricted to human beings" i n favour of a more reward ing enqu i ry into the c o n d i t i o n s of ' c o n s i d e r a t i o n ' . ^ ^ However, although this enquiry has already agreed to focus on, Which entities are considerable?, rather than on, Which entities are narrow r i g h t s bearers? , 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 question as altogether i rrelevant to his (and our) enqu i ry . This dismisses the s u b s t a n t i v e c la ims of t r a d i t i o n a l , Chapter One 20 humanist r ights-theorists , who l ink moral standing to the possession of r ights grounded in community membership, and i t is contrary to a 29 pol icy of neu t ra l i ty . Humanism's c la ims must be g i v e n a f a i r hearing. In consequence, the f i rs t step towards a rapprochement with r i gh t s - t heo ry i s to temper our i n s i s t e n c e on the l anguage of consideration with an assurance that the humanist position will be examined prior to drawing any conclusions about i ts relevance. Wide Rights Turning to wide r ights , Goodpaster cites Joel Feinberg (who was the f i rs t contemporary philosopher to seek comprehensive cr i ter ia of moral s tanding) as someone who a s c r i b e s ' r i g h t s ' i n the wides t 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 is a moral agent. He calls these claims 'moral r ights ' . They range from a r ight to "careful treatment" to a r ight to life. Almost any service which a moral agent can render i s a candidate for a moral r i g h t and, i n t h i s sense at l eas t , F e i n b e r g subscribes to a very wide notion of ' r ights ' . Feinberg grounds r ights by invoking what he calls the "interest 32 principle": ...the sor t s of beings who can have r i g h t s are precisely those who have (or can have) interests. I have come to t h i s t en ta t ive c o n c l u s i o n for two 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 ight holder must be capable of being a beneficiary i n his own person, and a being without in te res t s i s a being tha t i s i n c a p a b l e of be ing benefited, having no good or "sake" of i ts own. This summarises a view of r ights which is compatible with a broadly u t i l i t a r i an view of r i g h t act ion: r i g h t s are g r o u n d e d i n i n t e r e s t s , Chapter One 21 and interests are grounded i n a capacity for benefits and harms. But the interest principle by itself is not the whole of Feinberg's story. As Goodpaster notes, Fe inberg almost immedia te ly goes on to l i n k 33 in te res t s to desi res and aims. In t h i s , F e i n b e r g fo re shadows a requirement which later writers will state with certainty, and which has always been part of the util i tarian view: wide r ights are grounded i n interests which have a psychological component. Of course, this last requirement promises to block moral expansion beyond the mattering gap as thoroughly as equating moral standing with 34 the possession of narrow r ights . However, Goodpaster rejects the psychological interpretation of interests i n favour of one which would allow al l l iv ing organisms to possess them. Consequently, Goodpaster is willing to equate moral standing with the possession of r ights i n the widest sense, thus subsuming wide r ights within the language of consideration. He offers this as the additional justification needed 35 for eschewing any discussion of r ights . The Heart Of The Rapprochement Should th i s enqu i ry follow Goodpas te r? G iven tha t , i n the l i t e ra tu re on moral s tand ing , ' i n t e r e s t s ' a re 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 l ike Feinberg to claim ' in teres t ' as the i r own, t h e n t h i s e n q u i r y canno t fol low Goodpaster i n assuring wide rights-theorists that r ights bearers and considerable entities are one and the same. We sha l l need an a l ternat ive p o l i c y . I p ropose t ha t a rgumen t s about moral standing which use the vocabulary of wide r ights 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 restr ict ion on) moral standing which i s based on the possession (or the absence) of a wide r i g h t i s equivalent to a claim (or a r e s t r i c t i o n ) based d i r e c t l y on the underlying reasons cited for granting (or denying) the r ight . This seems an equitable solution because al l r ights-ascriptions must have a rationale, and i t i s that rationale which is the final ground of any rights-based assertion about moral standing. In consequence, i t is the rationale rather than the r ight which is of interest here. The same policy can be extended to narrow r ights , which means that al l r ights-based claims to moral standing can be evaluated according to the final reasons for ascribing the r ight . If the policy i s coupled with a promise to give both kinds of r ights-based arguments about moral scope a fair hearing, then i t provides the rapprochement with r ights theory which this enquiry needs. What I Understand By A 'Right ' So far , I have d i scussed the r e l a t i o n s h i p between r i g h t s and considera t ion without say ing e x p l i c i t l y 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 ights , a b r ie f statement may prove he lpfu l . P a r t l y to ach ieve c o n s i s t e n c y across the different accounts of r ight , and partly because I f ind that 36 doing so makes good sense, I understand ' r ight ' as follows: A RIGHT i s e i ther a gene ra l ly e s t a b l i s h e d and accepted (i.e. a ' v a l i d ' ) c la im to c e r t a i n goods or treatment, or i t i s a c la im which those who asser t the r i g h t believe s h o u l d r e c e i v e gene ra l acceptance. By a 'claim', I mean a demand supported by rational argument. A 'narrow r ight ' devolves upon a claim supported by the requirements for social l i v ing , and — contrary to Goodpaster — a 'wide r ight ' Chapter One 23 devolves upon the possession of psychologically based interests. This finally and unequivocally locates r ights 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 ights- theory, i t might s t i l l be insisted that r ights- theory 's long tradit ion and history does make i t a more perspicuous vehicle of enquiry than the l i t t le-known language of cons idera t ion . However , t h i s i s m i s g u i d e d . Whatever insights traditional r ights-theory offers, they are equally accessible to this enquiry because r ights-theory is not going to be ignored. Because i t i s the reasons for moral expansion or restrict ion which finally matter, not the language i n which we couch those reasons, there is no reason to think that primarily using the language of consideration will obscure any relevant considerations. An apologist for r ights may also claim that ' r ight ' is somehow a more fundamental notion than ' c o n s i d e r a t i o n ' ; t h e r e f o r e , t a l k of consideration must always eventually come down to r ights . But this , t o o , 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 m e r e l y a convenient, relatively neutral, and hopefully transparent means of referr ing 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 is the more fundamental. The Objection From 'Thinness' A determined c r i t i c might also a rgue 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 consistent with such a broad range of treatment that i t may be Chapter One 24 thought to lack practical or philosophical significance. For example, a l though sent ient is t s argue tha t i t i s wrong to eat cows , even v i t a l i s t s t h ink i t acceptable to eat ( cons ide rab l e ) c a r r o t s . B u t closer inspection reveals a different story. Whereas there must be adequate moral justification for any action affecting a considerable en t i ty , an incons iderable en t i ty i s p r e c i s e l y tha t : un l e s s i t has ins t rumenta l s igni f icance , an i n c o n s i d e r a b l e e n t i t y can be t r e a t e d 37 however one chooses. I t i s p r e c i s e l y because the no t ions 'mora l cons idera t ion ' and 'moral s t a n d i n g ' are so b r o a d l y a p p l i c a b l e and ' th in ' that they permit us to identify and discuss this important but elusive difference. A Disagreement About Fetal Moral Status But despite a l l that has been s a i d about the l anguage of consideration, what must finally recommend i t i s proof of i ts capacity to facilitate cr i t ical enquiry. Because my own exploration of current accounts of moral scope may be thought too partisan a test, here, briefly, i s more evidence of i ts ut i l i ty . Suppose that an abort ion ' 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 ha t a f i rs t trimester fetus should have full-blooded r ights in the same way as a human adult, but does think that the fetus deserves some moral protec t ion . For example, says the l i b e r a l , a b o r t i n g the f e tus i s acceptable, but experimenting on i t i s not . U t i l i s i n g a d i s t i n c t i o n between r ights and consideration the l iberal can claim that although the fetus does not have r ights (and hence has no r ight to life) the fetus i s s t i l l morally cons iderab le . The l i b e r a l ' s p o s i t i o n needs explaining, and we may yet decide that the l iberal is misguided. But the soundness of the position is not the issue here. What matters is Chapter One 25 that by employing both the terms ' r i g h t ' and ' c o n s i d e r a t i o n ' , t he l iberal i s enabled to recognise and explain that the argument i s about consideration, not about full-blooded r ights , and so avoid needless confusion. Pursuing this example a l i t t le further, i f the abortion l ibera l i s seeking rapprochement with abor t ion c o n s e r v a t i v e s , a no t ion l i k e consideration could usefully bridge the gap between a position which says no r i g h t s (extremely l ibe ra l ) and a p o s i t i o n wh ich s a y s f u l l r ights (extremely conservative). A Misunderstanding About 'Rights ' Even disputants who would both prefer to use the language of r ights when discussing moral standing may encounter confusion which will be alleviated by ta lking of consideration. If you generally think of r ights i n 'narrow', communitarian terms, while I think that r ights i n v o l v e p s y c h o l o g i c a l l y g r o u n d e d i n t e r e s t s , we a r e se t f o r misunderstanding. Despite our similar vocabulary, our sense of when i t i s appropriate to ascribe r ights 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 ' r ights ' , while d isagreeing so deeply about what r i g h t s i n v o l v e , w i l l s t i l l hinder communication. We would be better served by the connotation-free language of consideration. The Spir i t Of Contention F i n a l l y , t h e r e i s a r e a s o n f o r p r e f e r r i n g t h e l a n g u a g e of considera t ion over that of r i g h t s wh ich w i l l p r o b a b l y be t h o u g h t 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 ights could, somehow, be freed of the presuppositions which b ind i t to humanism and sen t i en t i sm, i t would s t i l l c a r r y adversarial and combative connotations contrary to this goal. Simone 38 Weil said of r ights that: They evoke a latent war and awaken the spi r i t of content ion. [They] . . . i nh ib i t any p o s s i b l e impu l se of charity. . . And I want to ensure that nothing is done to inhibi t this impulse of chari ty, even if , as yet, we are unsure of i ts relevance. Chapter One 27 Chapter Two GOODPASTER'S DISTINCTIONS As well as advocating the language of consideration i n preference to r ights- theory, Goodpaster's pioneering discussion of vitalism marks distinctions which are intended to guide our use of the language of cons idera t ion . Goodpaster desc r ibes f o u r r e l a t e d d i s t i n c t i o n s he th inks we need to keep i n mind when answering the ini t ia l question:* 1. The 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 m o r a l consideration to an entity, E, and ascribing r ights to E. 2. The 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 asking, Is there overall reason to think that E i s a considerable entity?, and asking Can E be intel l igibly said to possess a p a r t i c u l a r q u a l i t y , o r s e t of g u a l i t i e s , w h i c h guarantee moral standing?. 4. The 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 psychologica l ly and p h y s i c a l l y able to g r a n t E consideration. Like Distinction 1, Distinctions 2, 3, and 4 each seek to focus our at tention on matters which are c e n t r a l to the i n i t i a l q u e s t i o n while marginalising problems we can afford to ignore, and they al 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 enquiry. 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 things and being more or less important than other members. This enables us to grant that d i f ferent t h i n g s may wel 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 that enqu i ry may focus on the i n i t i a l q u e s t i o n , almost exc lus ive ly , and ignore q u e s t i o n s about r e l a t i v e moral s igni f icance . As with most de ta i led q u e s t i o n s of t r ea tmen t , the minutiae i n v o l v e d i n ass ign ing degrees of moral s i g n i f i c a n c e to entities are more l ikely to hinder than promote broad insights into moral s tanding. 2 Moral Egalitarianism The problem could also be avoided by simply embracing 'moral egalitarianism' and assuming, from the outset of the enquiry, that all considerable things will be equally important. But that creates more problems than i t solves. Although some expansionists do argue for forms of egalitarianism, others think a moral hierarchy is needed; thus, neutrality requires conducting an enquiry which can do justice to both views. From a tactical standpoint, moral egalitarianism also threatens to be a serious embarassment unless something is done to mitigate i ts consequences: egalitarian sentientism, for example, would threaten al l sentient creatures — humans, cats, and slugs — with equal moral status, and who would endorse that? An Imperfect Separation But, despite the obvious u t i l i t y of t h i s s e p a r a t i o n of i s s u e s , some d iscuss ion of moral r a n k i n g and moral e g a l i t a r i a n i s m w i l l be unavoidable. For one t h i n g , the a c c e p t a b i l i t y of moral expans ion Chapter Two 29 depends partly upon the provisions made for preserving traditional moral hierarchies or upon showing them misguided. For another th ing, moral conf l ic t would appear unavo idab le , p a r t i c u l a r l y i f the moral franchise i s enlarged; therefore, those advocating expansion must convince us that they have a satisfactory way of dealing with i t . An extended moral hierarchy is 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 mora l significance, this i s a further reason why the in i t ia l question cannot be entirely separated from the issue of moral ranking. An Attempted Reductip With Dis t inc t ion 2 i n hand, an o b j e c t i o n r a i s e d i n the l a s t chapter may be dealt with more fully now. In effect, i t was claimed that 'moral cons idera t ion ' and 'mora l s t a n d i n g ' are s u c h ' t h i n ' notions that no important difference exists between being considerable and being inconsiderable. This may be offered i n itself as a reason for rejecting moral expansion, or used as the basis of an attempted 3 reductio ad absurdum: Moral expansion followed by ranking 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 rhe to r i c . Therefore, meaningfu l moral expans ion must be egal i ta r ian , and t h a t ge ts i n c r e a s i n g l y ludicrous as the franchise increases. The 'no change' assumption here can be answered as be fo re : 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 ep ly that because the notion of c o n s i d e r a t i o n i s so t h i n , moral Chapter Two 30 standing is a merely technical impediment so long as humans continue to dominate the moral hierarchy. Here is 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 cr i ter ion. Considering Chickens Suppose we are persuaded by s en t i en t i sm tha t c h i c k e n s are considerable because they are capable of suffering. It follows that whenever human actions affect c h i c k e n s , we must weigh c h i c k e n suf fe r ing against the probable a d v a n t a g e s . G i v e n the a p p a l l i n g condi t ions i n which an i n t ens ive ly r e a r e d c h i c k e n l i v e s , the low nu t r i t i ona l qual i ty of i n t e n s i v e l y r a i s e d food , and the ease of substi tuting other kinds 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 rearing. We can argue that c rue l ty to ch ickens w i l l a d v e r s e l y affect humans , bu t h i s to ry indicates that even i f t h i s i s t r u e , humans are g e n e r a l l y undeterred, especially when cruelty occurs at a sanitised distance 5 f r o m t h e b e n e f i c i a r i e s . T h u s , w h a t e v e r i t s d e g r e e of m o r a l significance, a considered chicken i s l ikely to be much better off than an unconsidered chicken. In a sufficiently large moral franchise, being considerable might prove to have l i t t le practical significance for things at the margin. But, for the rest, being deemed considerable does change the manner of business. 6 DISTINCTION 3 (INTELLIGIBILITY) Goodpaster's Questions Dis t inct ion 3 begins with Goodpaster o u t l i n i n g two sepa ra te Chapter Two 31 questions about moral status: (1) The ' intel l igibi l i ty 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 this division of questions rests on a more general separat ion 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 " and "questions of normative substance", and he goes on to argue that this separation is not total: intel l igibi l i ty issues give way to normative ones on close inspection. Even so, the difference between questions (1) and (2) is sufficient for Goodpaster's main point to be that the ini t ia l question must not be treated as simply equivalent to a matter 9 of intel l igibi l i ty and to the f i rs t question: ...we must be wary of arguments that purport to answer [the normative q u e s t i o n ] so l e ly on the basis of "ordinary language" style answers to [the intel l igibi l i ty question]. Thus, Goodpaster i s identifying a pair of interpenetrating questions -- the intel l igibi l i ty and the normative questions — then counselling us against t r y ing to enquire into moral scope by asking only the intel l igibi l i ty question. Intell igibil i ty And Conceptual Analysis Assess ing th i s advice r equ i r e s a r e a d i n g of the no t ions and questions involved. ' Intel l igibi l i ty ' i s usually a matter of what one can understand, or conceive of, and public notions of intel l igibi l i ty are loosely summed up by what l inguist ic and logical practice allow us to s ay s e n s i b l y . " ^ G o o d p a s t e r s u g g e s t s t h a t 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 are usual ly answered by ' c o n c e p t u a l a n a l y s i s ' ; t h i s i n v o l v e s a s c e r t a i n i n g t h e a c c e p t e d c r i t e r i o n f o r a s s i g n i n g a Chapter Two 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 For example, i f we want to know whether my hat can be credited intel l igibly 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 intel l igibi l i ty question will require deciding which things can be said to meet the generally agreed cr i ter ion of moral standing. Normative Issues Less obvious is the strategy which answers the normative question. If we treat Goodpaster's reference to matters of 'ethical fact' as the k e y , t h e n a f i r s t p o s s i b i l i t y e m e r g e s : t h e n o r m a t i v e q u e s t i o n presupposes 'moral real ism' and r e q u i r e s us to e x h i b i t f i r m mora l facts in answer, rather than merely ci t ing generally accepted cr i ter ia of mora l s c o p e a n d t h e a c c o m p a n y i n g l o g i c a l a n d l i n g u i s t i c cons t ra in t s . But th i s i n t r u s i o n of moral r ea l i sm i n t o Goodpas te r ' s story is unsupported by anything he says elsewhere in the paper. Moreover, i t i s incongruous with his use of quotation marks around the phrase ' e th ica l fact ' : the c o n v e n t i o n a l i s e d r e f e rence s u g g e s t s reservations atypical of a moral realist. Better guides to the normative question are i ts name plus the way i n which Goodpaster conducts his own enquiry. A normative question is one which must be answered by reference to a standard or a regulative principle, and Goodpaster t r ies to elucidate such 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 l o o k b e h i n d conventional and accepted wisdom. Thus — without any reference to moral realism — the normative question can be read as requir ing an answer based on a clear cri ter ion of moral standing and the reference Chapter Two 33 to "ethical fact" as insis t ing that this cri ter ion 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 and normat ive ques t i ons now i n v o l v e reference to cr i ter ia of moral standing, but their cr i ter ia are chosen i n significantly different ways. Whereas the intel l igibi l i ty question tends to look to received notions and common usage for a cr i ter ion, the normative quest ion requ i res us to be more c r i t i c a l , p r o b i n g accepted th inking and seeking substantive moral argument. T h i s p o i n t i s i m p o r t a n t , a n d i t b e a r s r e s t a t i n g . 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 q u e s t i o n s d i f f e r i n t h a t t h e i n t e l l i g i b i l i t y quest ion rel ies h e a v i l y on c o n v e n t i o n a l ideas about moral standing without going into the depth required by the normative question. In consequence, the intel l igibi l i ty question is more l ikely to deliver merely the status quo than the normative question i s , and, because this enquiry seeks a generous and cri t ical ly well founded account of moral scope, there is 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 ini t ia l question i s to probe received moral notions with a judicious, educated use of the intel l igibi l i ty question. But this i s too uncri t ical . We cannot afford such a degree of confidence i n c u r r e n t be l i e f s and no t ions when rece ived morality has, i n the pas t , been g u i l t y of a l l manner of wretchedness which we now condemn. Our current presuppositions may be yielding consequences which, with the aid of a l i t t le hindsight, or a Chapter Two 34 more c r i t i c a l perspec t ive , would a p p a l l us e q u a l l y . As Goodpas te r One might argue plausibly, for example, that there were t i m e s a n d s o c i e t i e s i n w h i c h t h e m o r a l standing of blacks was, as a matter of conceptual analysis, deniable. Examples could be multiplied to include women, chi ldren, fetuses, and various other ins tances of what might be c a l l e d "metamoral disenf ranchisement". I f " m e t a m o r a l d i s e n f r a n c h i s e m e n t " i s r e a d as r o u g h l y disenfranchisement because moral consideration would be unintelligible according to current notions, then Goodpaster's apparent point i s as follows: The beliefs and suppos i t ions of o the r t imes and places offer what were t h e n b r o a d l y accep ted grounds for disenfranchising some humans. Given those beliefs and suppos i t i ons t o d a y , we would probably f ind the disenfranchisement justified i f our only guide to enquiry was the intel l igibi l i ty question. Al though i t i s a matter for h i s t o r i c a l debate whether and wh ich societies have gone so far as to t o t a l l y deny moral s t a n d i n g to blacks, women, etc., these groups have certainly suffered abuse as a consequence of being granted , at bes t , a low place i n the moral h i e ra rchy . And i f that could have been s u p p o r t e d by " c o n c e p t u a l analysis", there is sufficient reason to probe our own suppositions with care. A Policy Of Caution And Scepticism The problem is that the intel l igibi l i ty question and conceptual analysis probe notions which are i n flux but not usually subject to rapid change; thus, they have a patina of veracity and 'objectivity ' which can easi ly e l i c i t a too ready accep tance . T h i s makes the intel l igibi l i ty question well suited to lead enquiry astray, making us Chapter Two 35 hostage to slowly shifting moral ideas and fashions; the antidote i s to press the normative quest ion h a r d . Because t h i s po in t , too , i s crucial , 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 f ind many owls, that may be because there are few of them, or i t may be because we are not using night-v i s ion b inoculars . If we re ly on the 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 f ind many, that may be because our conventional ideas about moral standing support notions which bl ind us to the moral claims of some entities. There's Really No Choice As i f this was not already enough reason to pursue the normative question, this enquiry really has l i t t le choice given that i t is an enqu i ry into moral cons idera t ion . Mora l c o n s i d e r a t i o n and moral standing are newly coined terms of art, and there is li t t le agreement about the cr i ter ia involved. In consequence, attempting to decide the moral status of an entity on the basis of what can intel l igibly be said reverses the logical order of enquiry: i t puts the conceptual cart before the standard-setting 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 asse r t ion of moral 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 asser t moral s tanding of j u s t about a n y t h i n g ) , and i t w i l l be vir tual ly impossible to use the unintell igibil i ty of moral standing as grounds for exclusion (for the same reason). DISTINCTION 4 (REGULATIVE CONSIDERATION) Two Kinds Of Moral Standing Dis t inct ion 4 i s , perhaps, the most d i f f i c u l t of Goodpas t e r ' s Chapter Two 36 dis t inc t ions . It separates the ques t i on whether t h e r e i s r ea son to consider an entity, from the question whether a particular moral agent enjoys circumstances which permit that consideration. Goodpaster calls the former 'regulative' (i.e. agent-independent) moral standing and the latter 'operative' (i.e. agent-relative) 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 and ing , I sha l l attempt to expand upon Goodpas t e r ' s own, b r i e f exposi t ion. There are three s teps i n v o l v e d . F i r s t , Goodpas te r introduces the notion of a ' threshold of moral sensit ivity ' i n order to represent the psychological constraints on a moral agent. Second, he refers to this threshold in order to persuade us that i t i s useful to talk of 'operative consideration'. Thi rd , he explains 'regulative consideration' by contrast with operative moral consideration. Sensit ivity Thresholds (Step One) 15 Goodpaster introduces thresholds of moral sensit ivity this way: There is clearly a sense i n which we are subject to th resholds of moral s e n s i t i v i t y j u s t as we are subject to thresholds of cognitive or perceptual sensi t ivi ty. Beyond such thresholds we are "morally b l i n d " or suffer 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 their ewes, and smelling blood, they are distressed, but Peter hardly notices; this i s old hat to him. However, a young friend who i s with me, and who i s familiar with pets bu t un fami l i a r wi th l i v e s t o c k farming, immediately recognises the lambs' distress and turns to me to Chapter Two 37 intervene. I t r y to explain that I cannot help, not jus t because the lambs are irrevocably destined for slaughter, but because Peter would not understand our concern. He no longer perceives distress i n lambs unless i t is particularly severe and overt. It i s not merely that Peter i s habituated to his work. If every time he kil led and dressed lamb Peter had to view what he was doing through a child 's eyes, he would either have to give up his job or endure constant distress. Peter's largely unconscious response to this 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 insensit ivi ty to lambs whereas the chi ld and I remain sensitive. These differing susceptibilities are what I understand by "thresholds of moral sensi t ivi ty" or, more simply, sensit ivity thresholds.*^ Examples of sensit ivity thresholds are easily multiplied. When we worry about the harmful effects of media violence on moral health, i t i s p a r t l y t h i s t e n d e n c y to p r o t e c t o u r s e l v e s b y r a i s i n g o u r sensit ivity thresholds which concerns us. And when we encourage empathy i n young chi ldren, we are fostering low sensit ivity thresholds with respect to certain entities. By contrast, anyone who has been i n v o l v e d i n a ' c a r i ng profess ion ' knows the need to deve lop a protect ive s ens i t i v i t y t h r e sho ld by ' t u r n i n g down t h e i r volume 17 control ' . In general, there i s good reason to agree with Goodpaster that sensit ivity 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 sensit ivity thresholds. In Goodpaster's own words: ...the moral cons ide rab i l i t y of [an e n t i t y , E , ] i s operat ive for an agent, A , i f and on ly i f the 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 terms of s ens i t i v i t y t h re sho lds : i t s a y s t h a t e x t e n d i n g moral considera t ion to something must not c o n f l i c t wi th a s e n s i t i v i t y th resho ld r equ i r ed for dai ly l i v i n g . The 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 regula t ive 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 things, but be able psychologically and i n terms of his own nutri t ion to grant operative consideration to a much smaller class of things (though note that capacities in this regard differ among persons and change over time). Leaving " regu la t ive c o n s i d e r a b i l i t y " u n t i l the next s t ep , the phrase "be able psychologically and i n terms of his own nutri t ion to grant operative consideration" parallels Goodpaster's earlier use of the words "psychologically (and i n general, causally)" when defining operat ive cons idera t ion . Therefore , the r e f e r ence to n u t r i t i o n a l r e s t r i c t i o n s c a n be r e a d as a s p e c i f i c i n s t a n c e of a c a u s a l possibili ty. It may also be surmised that a causal possibility i s not simply a p h y s i c a l poss ib i l i ty because i t i s p h y s i c a l l y p o s s i b l e fo r someone to ignore nutrit ional requirements. A causal possibility is better understood as something which can be done without undergoing s i g n i f i c a n t p h y s i c a l h a r m , p a r t i c u l a r l y s i n c e p s y c h o l o g i c a l poss ib i l i ty i s a l ready l imited by s e n s i t i v i t y t h r e s h o l d s e n s u r i n g against psychological harm. A p e o p l e whose m o r a l 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 f o r Chapter Two 39 nu t r i t i ona l reasons are the t r a d i t i o n a l I n u i t who l i v e by h u n t i n g . Inuit cannot avoid causing nonhuman suffering without sacrificing t h e i r own l i v e s . T h u s , f o r t h e I n u i t , t h e r e i s no r e a l i s t i c alternative to the hunt, and this lack of options must also be part of the notion of operative consideration; otherwise, i t would become too easy to wriggle off the moral hook. In g e n e r a l , a l l r easonab le alternatives must be blocked before i t i s legitimate to deny entities 20 o p e r a t i v e c o n s i d e r a t i o n . G i v e n t h i s p r o v i s o , ' o p e r a t i v e 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 o r p h y s i c a l h a r m by e x t e n d i n g consideration to E, and there is already sufficient moral reason to consider E. Thus , opera t ive ly considerable e n t i t i e s are now ( r o u g h l y ) those considerable entities whose vi tal interests do not conflict with the vi tal .interests of moral agents. And because the psychological and physical constraints on moral agents are equally important, i t now makes sense to understand a 'sensit ivity threshold' as a defense or enabling mechanism which helps protect individuals from both kinds of harm. Regulative Moral Consideration (Step Three) The relationship between operative consideration and the original notion of consideration simpliciter becomes clear with 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. Judging by the way Goodpaster's enquiry develops, these "grounds Chapter Two 40 independent of operativity" are roughly the sort of arguments and considerations adduced by the various accounts of moral scope. In other words: E warrants REGULATIVE CONSIDERATION precisely when there is good reason to extend moral consideration to E independent ly of the p a r t i c u l a r needs of individual moral agents. G o o d p a s t e r has now s p l i t t h e o r i g i n a l n o t i o n of m o r a l consideration i n two. Regulative consideration is warranted when there is sufficient, non-instrumental reason to take an entity into account notwi ths tanding the needs of p a r t i c u l a r moral agen t s . O p e r a t i v e considera t ion i s warranted when a c t i v e l y t a k i n g accoun t of a r e g u l a t i v e l y c o n s i d e r a b l e e n t i t y w i l l no t c a u s e a m o r a l a g e n t s igni f icant , unavoidable 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' notion of consideration whereas operative consideration i s ' p r a c t i c a l ' . In consequence, assessments of r e g u l a t i v e moral s tanding wi l l be f a i r l y cons is tent a c ro s s moral agen t s , at l eas t within a particular moral tradit ion, 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 regula t ive cons idera t ion . It i s s o u n d a d v i c e , on the face of i t , because we need an answer to the ini t ia l question which speaks for morality per se rather than particular moral agents. But there i s a problem. Goodpaster i s tell ing Peter that i f he wishes to understand the moral status of lambs, he must 'forget' he i s a butcher and take a pure ly regula t ive view. This i s h a r d a d v i c e to fol low because sensit ivity thresholds are usually well entrenched and, often, we are Chapter Two 41 not even aware of them. But suppose that Peter succeeds i n overcoming this obstacle. He must then- seek reasons for and against granting lambs moral standing, and that will inevitably lead him to enquire what others have to say and to moral tradition and moral debate. Unfortunately, both of these sources offer judgements which are partly informed by the sensit ivity thresholds of Peter's moral neighbours and their predecessors. This i s unavoidable because moral thought depends upon the sensit ivity of moral agents to reveal circumstances which may have moral s igni f icance . For example, i f humans were comple te ly i n s e n s i t i v e to n o n h u m a n 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 t h a t sentientism would have developed. Even i f Peter can set aside his own th resho ld needs as a butcher , as soon as he appea l s to moral tradit ion, a generalised sensit ivity threshold will be informing his judgements about moral standing. Considering Teddy Bears P e t e r m i g h t a l s o t r y f o l l o w i n g G o o d p a s t e r ' s a d v i c e as an independent moral agent who, without reference to tradit ion, works to lower his own sensit ivity threshold so that i t permits sensit ivity 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 i n q u e s t i o n . F o l l o w i n g t h e a b o v e p r o c e d u r e , P e t e r l o w e r s h i s sensit ivity threshold respecting teddy bears and avoids or modifies moral t r ad i t ions which evince a n t i - t e d d y p r e j u d i c e . (No, i t i s no t impossible to do. There are lots of c h i l d r e n i n the wor ld a c u t e l y sensitive about teddy bears, and many adults will s t i l l f l inch 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 reply that those arguments partly depend upon sensit ivity thresholds which bl ind us to the ' t rue' moral nature of teddies. The Steps Which Brought Us Here Something, surely, has gone wrong. Let us review the steps which brought us here: Distinction 4 separates an operative, agent-relative view of moral standing (which is coloured by individual psychological and physical needs) with a regulative, agent-independent view of moral standing (which is untainted by need). I have argued that moral thought i s not entirely separable from m o r a l s e n s i t i v i t y . I t f o l l o w s t h a t a f u l l y r e g u l a t i v e , a g e n t -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 current ly i n question. However, i f we do that, i t will be hard to show that there are entities which are not morally considerable. A Thi rd Option The sensible course now is compromise. Moral tradition and debate are needed to ' i ron out' individual idiosyncracies and offer a k ind of ' i n t e r sub jec t ive s ens i t i v i t y t h r e s h o l d ' wh ich w i l l p r e c l u d e ' t e d d y bear' morality. But this s t i l l leaves judgements about moral status hostage to s ens i t i v i t y t h r e sho ld s , wh ich appea r s to be j u s t what Goodpaster wants to avoid. And this i s not an instance when achievable Chapter Two 43 ' intersubjectivity ' can replace the desired 'objectivity ' at no cost. However, l ike any other aspect of morality, sensit ivity thresholds may be, and should be, c r i t i c i s e d i n te rms 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-usual ly sens i t ive , regu la t ive , p e r s p e c t i v e w i l l he lp those of us involved i n moral enquiry to 'see' entities without regard to our own psychological or physical needs and furnish a basis for cri t icism and re-evaluation. It will then be a matter for debate whether morality 24 generally should follow suit. Still A Difficult Issue But perhaps this i s an over simplification of what lies ahead in that we are going to experience competing pulls towards both the operat ive and the regula t ive p e r s p e c t i v e s . On the one h a n d , the ini t ia l question is a practical question about how we should l ive , and we cannot determine an answer wi thout s i t u a t i n g o u r s e l v e s as particular moral agents subject to psychological and physical needs. On the other hand, this i s a philosophical enquiry into moral scope, and we requ i re an answer which i s s u f f i c i e n t l y i m p a r t i a l and 'distanced' to be both recognisably moral and rationally persuasive. What i s ce r ta in i s that we must g u a r d aga in s t an u n c r i t i c a l acceptance of operat ive r e s t r i c t i o n s on moral s t a n d i n g . We s h o u l d always keep Peter the butcher in mind and, when i t seems clear that ent i t ies encountered i n our e v e r y d a y l i v e s are i n c o n s i d e r a b l e , we should ask to what extent concern fo r ou r own p s y c h o l o g i c a l or 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 is impossible because morality necessarily makes judgements about appropriate levels of sensit ivi ty. The importance of both these points was brought sharply home when I l ived i n Bhutan. Feral , cat-eating, often rabid dogs were part of everyday life, and they were treated harshly. My ini t ia l compassion soon gave way to the local practice of greeting strays 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 towards dogs to r e t u r n and fo r me to r e - a c q u i r e a dog companion. In retrospect, i t was a profoundly significant experience, teaching me the mutability of perceptions I had buil t my life around. Chapter Two 45 PART TWO: THE MOVEMENT FROM INTEREST Chapter Three HUMANISM AND COMMUNITY Humanism is the point of departure for our exploration of current accounts of moral scope. It i den t i f i e s the moral f r a n c h i s e r o u g h l y with a l l and only humans, thus giving a traditional answer to the ini t ia l question which the other accounts need to show i n er ror . This las t point needs s t r e s s ing because c r i t i c s sometimes g i v e the impression that humanism is al l but extinct. My own experience is that a l though humanism i s poorly r e p r e s e n t e d i n c u r r e n t 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 phi losophy. 1 Altogether, there are a number of different forms of humanism prominent i n history and i n philosophical writ ing. The most notable are ' r a t iona l humanism' (which makes r a t i o n a l i t y the c r i t e r i o n of moral s tanding) , 'moral humanism' ( w h i c h demands r e c i p r o c a t i n g membership i n a human community), and t rue '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, f inding nothing wrong when a victor raped, plundered, and enslaved a conquered c i ty . 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 this exploration of the accounts of moral scope — and i n keeping with Part One — the language of Chapter Three 46 considerat ion wi l l be my pr imary 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 ights ascriptions will be evaluated according to their grounds. (Which i s roughly i n accordance with Goodpaster 's Dis t inc t ion 1.) I s h a l l a v o i d q u e s t i o n s about relative moral standing i n so far as that i s possible (Goodpaster's Dis t inc t ion 2), t rea t the apparent 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 moral standing as, at best, only an approximate guide to moral status (Goodpaster 's Dis t inc t ion 3), and I s h a l l seek to make p u t a t i v e 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 in the recent l i terature i s offered by A. I. Melden. His desideratum i s a complete e th ics founded i n the requirements fo r s o c i a l l i v i n g , bu t , desp i t e this ambitious sweep, the essence of Melden's humanism can be briefly 2 stated. Melden i s a 'narrow-rights ' theorist who argues that r ights arise i n consequence of membership i n a moral community within which common goods are pursued. To be a r ights-bearer — and, therefore, on Melden's account, to have moral standing — is to be someone with whom others can coordinate plans and behaviour i n the pursui t of shared ends. According to Melden, ascribing narrow-rights 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 ights to draw some ini t ial ly strong 3 conclusions about who can be r ights bearers. Rights bearers must be r a t i o n a l , i n o r d e r to r e c o g n i s e a n d a c t on t h e i r r i g h t s a n d Chapter Three 47 obligations, and they must also be predisposed to act morally. (For M e l d e n , u n l i k e K a n t , a c t i n g r a t i o n a l l y n e e d n o t e n t a i l a c t i n g 4 morally. ) F i n a l l y , Melden asse r t s t h a t r i g h t s b e a r e r s must be genetically human i n order to share the common interests which glue the moral community together. The Objection From Current Practice This i s a very limited account of moral scope, adding together as i t does the restrictions imposed by rational and genetic humanism, then narrowing the franchise further by demanding moral agency. Melden is immediately open to the objection that his humanism is inconsistent with current practice because moral consideration is routinely granted to humans who are neither rational nor moral agents. The most powerful counter-example is chi ldren. Whatever theoretical reasons we might ci te i n suppor t , we can ha rd ly deny t h a t r e c e i v e d mora l i ty does 5 enfranchise them. Children may not have precisely the same degree of moral s tanding as adul t moral agen ts , bu t t h e y c e r t a i n l y have significant moral standing. Furthermore, i t i s not only chi ldren whom Melden threatens to put beyond the moral pale. He also disenfranchises al l adults who are in te l lec tua l ly or psycho log ica l ly i n c a p a b l e of r a t i o n a l o r mora l agency. With respect to rational incapacity, there may be a question how much p r o t e c t i o n c u r r e n t m o r a l i t y a f f o r d s t h o s e who a r e in te l lec tua l ly impaired , but i t i s , a g a i n , unden i ab l e t h a t t h e y are accorded some consideration. 6 Even psychopaths seem to be included under the moral umbrella. Whereas product-testing on nonhumans is routine, received morality certainly does not sanction product-testing on the part icularly wicked. Chapter Three 48 Seeking A Better Fit The only rea l i s t i c response to t h i s o b j e c t i o n i s to loosen the c r i t e r i a of moral s t and ing , and t h a t i s what Melden does . He i s particularly concerned to enfranchise chi ldren, and he offers reasons for g ran t ing them r i g h t s at numerous p o i n t s i n h i s t ex t , i n the context of var ious top ics . Two r e l a t i v e l y c l e a r l y s t a t ed reasons appear for granting r ights to humans incapable of agency. The f i rs t reason is that chi ldren and others who are dearly loved by community 7 members are brought within i ts shelter by that love. The second reason is that the r ights of infants and others lacking agency can be p adequately grounded i n their interests. Before we object that being 'sheltered' i s not the same as being a r ight-holder, or that having interests i s not obviously restr icted to community members, we should note that neither reason is apparently in tended to s tand alone. For Melden, c h i l d r e n and o the r s l a c k i n g agency are not morally special jus 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 chi ld i s an integral part of at least one, hopefully several adult l ives; an adult incapable of rational agency i s a s ibl ing, parent, or friend who remains a partner i n a common enterprise. Thus, Melden views humans who are not ful l rational agents as integral to the pursui t of human goods even though their intentional contribution to those goods may be very limited. (Note that even sociopaths are not excluded from the community and barred from r ight-holding by_ the community. According to Melden, they exclude themselves by "choosing Chapter Three 49 and dec id ing . . . in complete i nd i f f e r ence to the moral i n t e r e s t s of others." 9 ) 'Strict' And 'Generous' Moral Humanism I n c o n s e q u e n c e of t h i s r e l a t i v e l y sane v i ew of human relationships, Melden's 'moral community' consists of al l those who are bound together by i n t e r l o c k i n g r e l a t i o n s h i p s , 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 kinds within moral humanism: STRICT moral humanism extends moral standing only to humans who are fu 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 rights bearer r e m a i n s a r a t i o n a l , m o r a l a g e n t , h i s o r h e r 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 almost entirely on generous moral humanism, to the exclusion of s t r ic 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 ights 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 ind 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 sense, be considered Chapter Three 50 partners i n pursui t of that good. An example of this k ind 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. And given this gloss on Melden, his cri ter ion 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 ar r ived at this relatively generous cri terion of moral s tanding because he i s happy to accommodate r e c e i v e d m o r a l i t y ' s concern for c h i l d r e n and other non -agen t s ; however , t h e r e i s the t h e o r e t i c a l a l t e r n a t i v e of t r y i n g to r e h a b i l i t a t e s t r i c t m o r a l humanism. This possibility should be laid to rest, now, so that s tr ict moral humanism cannot haunt future discussion. And the grounds for doing so are to hand: s t r ic t moral humanism fails to offer an adequate basis for communal l i v i n g . Human adults generally have a high regard for the safety and well-being of their loved ones, and they are unlikely to enter into an associat ion which puts dependant f r i e n d s or r e l a t i v e s at r i s k . Therefore, j u s t as a guarantee of r e l a t i v e p e r s o n a l safe ty i s an important prerequisite of communal l ife, so this guarantee must extend to chi ldren and others who are incapable of moral agency. But s t r ic t moral humanism is unable to furnish this guarantee by the usual means of extending moral protection to them. The alternative is to hope that children and the intellectually impaired will be adequately protected Chapter Three 51 because they wi l l be t reated well out of r e g a r d fo r o the r moral agents. This 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 regard for me: now i t i s my chi ld and my idiot brother who are supposed to be adequately protected because they are my wards. But this protection-by-proxy is inadequate. Personal regard is variable and fickle, and i t i s poor surety for the safety of one's ch i ld . What happens i f one dies? Will my dependants be allowed to slip through 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 their chi ldren, only the protection of moral standing is going to be thought sufficient. As a f i n a l r e a s o n f o r t h i n k i n g t h a t m o r a l i t y s h o u l d f u l l y enfranchise the dependants of moral agents — and al 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 chi ldren and impaired adults i s a relatively easy way of enhancing everyone ' s sense of s ecu r i t y . T h i s i s because do ing so not on ly assures moral agents that t he i r r e l a t i v e s en joy the same k i n d of protect ion as themselves, i t also he lps to make the p o s s e s s i o n of h u m a n i t y a s p e c i a l a t t r i b u t e w h i c h a u t o m a t i c a l l y e l i c i t s consideration. A Momentum For Expansion Given that i t i s so important for mora l i ty to e n f r a n c h i s e a l l humans, whether they are paradigm moral agents or not, i t may be wondered whether Melden's own cri ter ion of moral standing is 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 the human capaci ty for love and compass ion , Me lden ' s no t i on of 'community' i s r i c h enough to i n v o l v e j u s t about a l l humans — probably even the psychopaths whom he th inks exclude themselves — and i t i s strong enough to do so securely. As I see i t , Melden's problem is resist ing the momentum for further generosity which his cr i ter ion generates. Melden's Specifisism To take a f i rs t instance, why is 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 abili ty to plan. Should we not grant the space-being moral status? Rational humanists and cr i t ics opposed to humanism generally will concur i n endorsing a positive answer. But Melden appears to challenge this alliance when he claims that unless the space-being is l ike us in "the considerations which move her to act", we would be unable to make her a member of our moral community or treat her l ike a human b e i n g . 1 1 To someone persuaded of the moral significance of either rationality or a capacity for suffering, this will appear beside the point: i f i t i s within our power to affect the space-being, then morality must extend considera t ion to her whether or not she can j o i n o u r 'community'. Does Melden really wish to deny that the space-being is considerable? Space Beings And Angels The answer seems to be that Melden does. He explicit ly, i f i l l -Chapter Three 53 advisedly, recognises that his own cri ter ion of moral standing is more r e s t r i c t i v e than that of ra t iona l humanism's pa r ad igm exponen t 12 Immanuel Kant. I am not sure that there is a lot of difference between Melden and Kant i n this regard, but Melden's th inking 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 l ikely an angel — had alighted at Konigsberg, Kant would have had no d i f f i cu l ty accept ing her moral s t a tus . Her r a t i o n a l i t y would 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." And, for Kant, this makes something a member of the kingdom of ends and secures i ts moral standing. What Melden appears to be overlooking is that Kant viewed ra t ional and moral agency as i n s e p a r a b l e , and so K a n t ' s rational angel is a reciprocating moral agent, jus 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 H e r e , we come to t h e s t a r t of one of t h o s e f u n d a m e n t a l disagreements I mentioned i n Part One. Because the sole theoretical basis of Melden's humanism is promoting the welfare of a community of rec ip roca t ing moral agents and t h e i r wards , he f i n d s no p o s s i b l e reason to enfranchise a ra t iona l be ing who s t ands ou t s ide t h a t community. By contrast, cr i t ics 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 ec t i ng beings are a l r eady p a r t and p a r c e l of r e c e i v e d morality, consistency demands enfranchising a l l rational creatures. This disagreement has a form which w i l l shape much of the next Chapter Three 54 chapter, where I shall present sentientism's case for enfranchising sentient, rather than rational, nonhumans. On the one hand, moral humanism i n s i s t s that morality i s s t r i c t l y c i r c u m s c r i b e d by i t s 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 f inding i t odd, and seemingly arbi t rary , to insis t that another rational creature could have no claim at a l l on our moral concern. It seems to me received morality is 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 is decided, Earth appears to house no creatures whose rational capacity approaches that of humans; 15 therefore, the outcome is only of theoretical interest. By contrast, Melden's view of mundane nonhumans is of real practical concern: why is Melden so sure that only humans have r ights? If the answer is yet a further claim that humans have peculiarly interlocking interests, we need a fuller explanation of what those interests are. And i f part of that explanation is the deep love and concern moral agents have for other humans then, on those grounds, many nonhuman companions qualify. Furthermore, i f the explanation cites 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 whom I used to introduce the Chapter Three 55 ini t ia l 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 ngu i sh ing considerable from i n c o n s i d e r a b l e e n t i t i e s , t he se l ines of thought suggest that generous moral humanism s h o u l d enfranchise companion nonhumans, and shun a restrict ion which is beginning to appear an arbi t rary preference for our own species. And Sheepdogs There i s a fu r the r reason s t i l l fo r t h i n k i n g tha t Me lden ' 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 is t , let us agree that morality serves to promote a communal way of life which is generally advantageous to members, enabling them to better satisfy their needs. I sha l l argue that t h i s p rovides reason to e n f r a n c h i s e w o r k i n g sheepdogs (at the least). Without his Border-Collie, a Scottish, Welsh, or Cumbrian shepherd cannot tend the flock. This i s not jus t a matter of convenience: i t would be almost impossible for unaided humans to herd sheep across those hi l ls . And without his shepherd, the dog must either l ive a harder life as a stray, 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 their behaviour so thoroughly, and their interests are so enmeshed, that i t makes more sense to think of dogs as members of a hill-farming community than as a mere adjunct to i t , a k ind of tool. In which case, sheepdogs are morally considerable according to the basis of Melden's criterion. 1** Humanists may want to block this argument. Can they do so by Chapter Three 56 insis t ing that members of a moral community be able to recognise their r i g h t s and obl igat ions? No, because t h a t i n s i s t e n c e would exc lude those nonparadigm humans whom Melden has worked so h a r d to accommodate. In any case, i f we t ake b e h a v i o u r a l r a t h e r t h a n l inguist ic competence as a guide to community membership, observation suggests that working dogs make a good showing. Can the argument be blocked by insis t ing that there is 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 dog will s t i l l get fed and sheltered. But problems arise i f we t r y to argue that the dog need only be of instrumental significance to the shepherd. In the f i r s t place, the dog does appear to satisfy (at least) those requirements for community membership which an intellectually impaired human satisfies. If the intellectually impaired human is to be made a community member, then the ru le that we should not make d i s t i n c t i o n s where r e l e v a n t differences do not exist indicates that the dog should be too. Second, i t i s arguable that both shepherd and dog will miss out on some of the benefits of pa r tnersh ip 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 : t h e shepherd will lose a potential friendship which is rewarding i n itself and waste an opportunity for moral growth, and the dog will lose the affection which domesticated dogs are so eager f o r . T h i r d , and finally, perhaps the sheep will not be so well herded. Like humans, dogs seem to do their 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 is 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 inding: i t means there is reason for a consistent, generous, moral humanist to recognise the moral standing of at least some sentient nonhumans; i t also means that such recognition can be achieved without rejecting the basic g round ing of moral humanism. G i v e n t ha t t h e r e i s a lso the beginnings of a case for moral humanism to e n f r a n c h i s e p o s s i b l e ra t ional nonhumans, I propose r e c o g n i s i n g a separa te 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, but i t also recognises a case for e x t e n d i n g the moral franchise to rational nonhumans and to nonhuman companions and colleagues. New-model humanism is the f i rs t potential bulge i n the traditional humanist bulwark against moral expansion. IS MELDEN REALLY A HUMANIST? The Initial Evidence Given the potent ia l e las t ic i ty of Me lden ' s own gene rous moral humanism, one is led to wonder whether Melden really is a humanist i n the sense of someone totally unwilling to extend moral consideration to nonhumans. Let us consider the e v i d e n c e . To b e g i n w i t h , the majority of Melden's d i scuss ion c e n t r e s on a t t r i b u t i o n s of n a r r o w rights , and although I have offered reason for th inking that (for example) a sheepdog may warrant certain narrow r ights , Melden would certainly disagree. Those arguments which deal with the genesis of r ights clearly show that Melden th inks only humans fit subjects for 17 r ights . However, when we seek Melden's explicit view of those who do not hold r ights , we find a more generous story. For example, his Chapter Three 58 opening page warns us that beside moral r ights , we must recognise: ...moral considerations to which the concept of a r i g h t does n o t seem to a p p l y at a l l : t h e requirement that we help someone i n need , t he generosi ty or k indness we ough t to ex tend 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 rights story tells all there is to know about morality, but he never explains the alternative theore t ica l basis of these " 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 that they 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 ights-theory because they contribute so much to communal life and human welfare. But i f Melden t h i n k s t h i s , he has the p rob lem of reconciling non-rights-based obligations with r ights-based obligations 19 when there is a conflict, and that is 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 ights-ascr ipt ion. In the latter case, Melden may be edging towards a recognition of wider r ights which are not grounded i n the exigencies of community. But, i n any case, he is taking the view that we owe certain treatment to certain sentient beings because of proper t ies they e x h i b i t , and t h a t goes b e y o n d standard moral humanism. Unfor tunate ly , Melden's text does not p r o v i d e the b a s i s fo r a definitive answer to the puzzle. For what i t i s worth, my feeling about h is pos i t ion , based on a p r e v a i l i n g tone of compass ion and generousity which is sometimes at odds with humanism's s tr ictures, is 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 rs t water. This i s because according to Sumner's own account of moral scope, moral standing is inseparable from the r ight to life: "having (some) moral standing is equivalent to having (some) r ight to 20 l i f e . " Thus , any considerable e n t i t y n e c e s s a r i l y has a (or some) r ight to life. If Melden is linating r ights to humans, then he must be limiting the r ight 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 ight to life?, and, Does Melden really wish to claim that nonhumans have no r ight to life at all? With respect to the f i rs t question, as explained i n Part One, anyone with hopes of car ry ing moral expansion across the mattering-gap must be prepared to separate moral standing from r ights per se, i f only because r ights do not extend that far. Therefore, this enquiry cannot endorse Sumner's r ight to life claim without a substantive argument to show that being a l iv ing entity with a well-founded claim to l i fe i s a n e c e s s a r y c o n d i t i o n of moral consideration. Because that issue's proper provenance is sentientism's attempt to halt moral expansion at the mattering gap, I shall not discuss i t here. What i s relevant here is Melden's possible view of nonhuman claims to life. If he th inks that some nonhumans may have a claim to life, that suggests he th inks 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 say ing that we can leg i t imate ly k i l l a p e r f e c t l y hea l thy nonhuman without need to show j u s t cause . I f t h i s seems to be spli t t ing hairs, compare the clearly expressed view of John Passmore, who is a possibly stronger, but less subtle, candidate for the title of 'contemporary humanist'. He not only wants to deny animals r ights , he offers the traditional explanation that cruelty to animals i s wrong only because, "callousness, an insensibil i ty to suffering, i s a moral 22 defect in a human being". A Humanist Who Wavers, But St i l l A Humanist I conclude that there is ambiguity i n Melden's view of nonhumans, and his intention to disenfranchise them does sometimes waver, but this certainly does not make him a closet sentientist. Leaving aside his possible lapses i n favour of s e n t i e n t nonhumans , Melden i s a typical , contemporary humanist. Just l ike Passmore, he grounds moral r ights i n a community of common interests, and he explicitly limits legitimate r i gh t s -bea re r s to human b e i n g s who have 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 posi t ion are j u s t what make his e x p o s i t i o n of moral humanism so in t e re s t ing : Melden's ambiguit ies a r i s e because i t i s d i f f i c u l t to insis t that the moral franchise should extend solely to humans 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 r i g h t s w h i c h e n t a i l mora l s t a n d i n g a n d h i s e q u a l l y e x p l i c i t recognition that we ought to treat nonhumans humanely indicates the strain within generous moral humanism. Chapter Three 61 Two Senses Of 'Community' There i s one fu r the r 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' is i tself 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 sli thers towards a broader definition as he grants r ights to children 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 al l whose l ives are connected through shared projects, the demands of reciprocity, or affection. This is why I could claim earlier that consistency demands new model humanism. Humanism's Limited Momentum In cr i t ic is ing 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 this i s not really fair to Melden. Al though he never answers Sumner d i r e c t l y , Me lden ' s position is clear and has already been touched on. Melden treats i t as axiomatic that morality's mandate i s limited to what is required i n order to promote the welfare of reciprocating human moral agents and their wards. Whether or not we agree with Melden, understanding this aspect of his reasoning is essential to understanding contemporary humanism. Not only does Melden's view of mora l i ty ' s p u r p o s e genera te the moral Chapter Three 62 franchise he endorses, i t provides a principled way of Kmitinq the moral f ranchise . If my attempt to move humanism t o w a r d s g r e a t e r generousity has seemed to prepare the way for a full-scale slide into sentientism, then this i s important to recognise. Moral humanism may resist expansion beyond new model humanism by invoking 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 al 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 he re , c l a iming tha t i f sheepdogs are to be granted moral standing then consistency requires enf ranchis ing a l l other s imi la r ly s en t i en t c r e a t u r e s . Bu t a moral humanist who i s wi l l ing to be s u f f i c i e n t l y h a r d - n o s e d about the humanist position may reply that i t i s not sheepdogs per se who are being enfranchised, but rather nonhuman companions and helpmeets. Consis tency only requ i res e n f r a n c h i s i n g a l l o the r companions a n d 24 helpmeets. Even i f (as Sumner wants) the moral communi ty i s unders tood as cons i s t ing of a l l those to whom moral agen ts have obligations, moral humanism s t i l l has principled grounds for resist ing expansion. Moral humanism holds obligations legitimate only i f they ultimately contribute to the welfare of moral agents; therefore, i t i s ha rd to make a case for c rea tures wh ich are n e i t h e r nonhuman companions nor helpmeets. We may not l ike moral humanism, but i t i s a more coherent and secure account of moral scope t han i t s c r i t i c s sometimes allow. Chapter Three 63 GENETIC HUMANISM A Possibly Sufficient, But Not Necessary, Condition Moral humanism's separation of considerable from inconsiderable ent i t ies f ina l ly grounds i n a p s y c h o l o g i c a l d i f f e r e n c e : s e n t i e n t nonhumans are disenfranchised because their cognitive abilities fit them so poorly for inclusion i n a human community. However, this focus 25 on psychology is 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 is 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 impar t i a l i ty . But some conse rva t ives i n the a b o r t i o n debate have lowered their sights from a full-fledged account of moral scope i n order to claim that mere genetic humani ty 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 i ts absence does not necessarily preclude i t (genetic humanity i s not a necessary condi t ion for moral s t a n d i n g ) . T h i s c la im i s not on ly important for the morality of a b o r t i o n , i t o f fe r s an i n t e r e s t i n g possible codicil to the ini t ia 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 gene t ic humanism ares provided by John T. Noonan J r and Joseph F. Donceel. Reading Noonan i n 26 l ight of Donceel's loyal crit icism 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 ful l fledged member of our species so long as i t remains safely i n utero. (3) If the conceptus is so endowed and programmed, i t i s to al l moral intents and purposes a human being with a r ight to life. This argument has two str ings. One s t r ing plays the theme of Nour species': even the conceptus i s endowed with a human genetic code and so is one of us. The other s t r ing plays the theme of ^potentiality': the conceptus has a high probability of being carried through to b i r th and eventually becoming a fully fledged human being. It will be best to treat these themes as distinct, separate arguments, start ing with potentiality. Potentiality One in f luen t i a l c r i t i c i sm of the p o t e n t i a l i t y a rgument r u n s as * 11 27 follows: ... i f A has r ights only because he satisfies some condition P, i t doesn't follow that B_ has the same rights now because he could have property P_ at some time i n the fu ture . It on ly fo l lows t h a t he w i l l have r ights when he has P. He is a potential bearer of r i g h t s , as he i s a po ten t i a l bea re r of P_. A potential president of the United States i s not on that account Commander-in-Chief. This objection involves credit ing 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 fe . Therefore a c o n c e p t u s , wh ich i s potent ial ly 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 ight to life. But this i s logically obnoxious because the premise only supports the conclusion that the fetus has a potential r ight to life. To conclude that a fetus has an actual r ight to life we must conflate a potential r ight with an actual r ight . Chapter Three 65 A More Charitable Reading Is this logical aberration really the argument genetic humanism seeks to offer? It seems unlikely. As Ear l Winkler has pointed out, genetic humanism may be more favourably read as claiming that a conceptus 's own present qual i t ies — i n p a r t i c u l a r , the q u a l i t y of being potent ial ly a ra t ional being - - are s u f f i c i e n t to s e c u r e i t s 28 present r ight to life: A clear-headed [abortion] conservative does not say that potential future moral personhood confers such personhood now, but that p r e s e n t p o t e n t i a l fo 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 ight to life. But although this rescues genetic humanism from logical error , i t must s t i l l be explained how the present r ight to life grounds i n a "possibi l i ty". Noonan does not do this; however, there is at least one possible explanation to hand. Noonan can be understood as holding the view that human wisdom is a dispositional property which may be judged present even when not current ly manifested. It may then be argued that 30 human wisdom secures "moral personhood" even prior to being evinced. The weakness of this position is 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 property u n t i l t h e r e i s i n i t i a l e v i d e n c e 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 is l i t t le or no possibility of doubt, not al l human fetuses eventually demonstrate wisdom. Compare fetuses and human wisdom with the example of standard window glass: window glass will always shatter when struck with a Chapter Three 66 metal hammer; therefore, there is no problem attr ibuting fragil i ty to window glass. Fetuses do not always go on to evince human wisdom; therefore, their possession of the dispositional property i s suspect. Given that the burden of proof rests with Noonan and with genetic humanism i n general, i t seems most reasonable to take the common sense view and conclude that because a fetus i s current ly unable to evidence human wisdom, rationality, or self-consciousness, i t does not have a 31 r ight to life grounded i n any of those properties. The 'Our Species" Theme Is the argument that mere genetic endowment grounds the fetal r ight to life more persuasive? At the beginning of his article, Noonan repeats the t r ad i t iona l asser t ion t h a t wha tever 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 ight to life. Again, Noonan fails to do. Perhaps his view is that because a fetus i s biologically human, i t is already so 33 valuable that i t warrants a r ight to life. However, i f this 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, self-conscious crea tures into whom human fe tuses g row, i t i s h a r d to understand why they should be so prized. 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 ight to life. But perhaps my view of genetic humanism is too secular. Although Noonan concentrates on arguments accessible to those who do not share his Chr i s t i an fa i th , Donceel l i n k s the r i g h t to l i f e to ensoulment , the uniting of a human fetus with a soul. This clearly theological Chapter Three 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 things. 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 c o n s i d e r a t i o n f o r a f e t u s , a n d t h a t , i n i t s e l f , w o u l d be 34 in t e re s t ing . To make the case, i t must be a r g u e d t h a t gene t i c humanity provides reason to take a fetus into account for i ts own sake when decisions affect i t . This must apply even to very early fetuses, and there are only two ways to affect an early fetus: one is to t e r m i n a t e i t s d e v e l o p m e n t ; t h e o t h e r i s to modi fy i t s g e n e t i c 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 ts host. What wrong has been done? Despite the wealth of l i terature dealing with the abortion issue, there is no readily discernible wrong, and cer ta in ly none that i s a t t r ibu tab le to 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 their heads l i ke sp ide r s . If th i s i s moral ly wrong , and c e r t a i n l y s u c h modifications are ' intui t ively ' d is turbing, then the mere possession of human genes cannot be what makes i t wrong. If a conceptus was modified for pure ly experimental r easons , t h e n d e s t r o y e d s h o r t l y 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 car ry ing the fetus to term and bearing a modified chi ld . This suggests that modifying human genes per se i s not wrong; the locus 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 is no apparent reason why the mere posession of human genes secures moral standing. Chapter Three 69 Chapter Four SENTIENTISM IN THE UTILITARIAN TRADITION His to r i ca l ly , c lass ica l u t i l i t a r i a n i s m ' s emphas is on the moral significance of pleasure and pain offers the f i rs t account of moral scope to r i v a l humanism. Right ac t ions a re 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 , 1 and, because the human capacity for pleasure and pain i s shared by many nonhumans, i t becomes possible to argue that consistency requ i res t ak ing nonhuman p leasures and pa ins 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?" However, although this charitable perception dates to the 19th cen tu ry , Bentham's ambit ion tha t , " the r e s t of the animal creat ion may acqui re those r i g h t s wh ich n e v e r c o u l d have been 3 withholden from them but by the hand of tyranny", sported few champions unt i l the final quarter of the present century. It may be significant, or i t may be simply i ronic , but i t i s only now, jus t as vitalists and ecosophists are urging much greater expansion, that concern for nonhumans is becoming respectable. The present chapter will ask how strong a case can current ly be made for fol lowing Bentham's lead and e n f r a n c h i s i n g r o u g h l y a l l creatures capable of suffering, for broadly util i tarian reasons. In other words, we shall be asking: Is sentience a sufficient condition of moral standing? The question whether sentience is also necessary for moral standing, and, thus, whether sentientism is able to block expansion across the mattering gap, will be reserved for separate discussion later. Chapter Four 70 AN EVOLVING CRITERION The Capacity For Feeling Or Affect Although Bentham no longer lacks philosophical heirs, their talk now i s more of 'sentience' than 'suffering' . That change warrants an explanation plus a recognition that academic philosophers do not use ' sent ience ' i n qui te the d i c t i ona ry sense . Whereas the 0 . E . D. glosses sentience as, "the power of p e r c e p t i o n by the senses" , philosophy use i t to mean roughly 'the capacity for feeling, pleasure, 4 and suffering' . For example, Peter Singer tells us that he i s : . . .us ing the term [sent ience] as a c o n v e n i e n t , i f not s t r ic t ly 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. I n L . W. S u m n e r ' s l a t e r d i s c u s s i o n of s e n t i e n c e , t h e acknowledgement that the word is a term of ar 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 to experience sensations of p l e a s u r e and p a i n , and thus the ab i l i t y to enjoy or 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 to be s a t i s f i e d a n d f rus t ra ted) ; a t t i tudes , t a s t e s , and v a l u e s ; and moods, emotions, sentiments and passions. Later, we shall f ind Sumner using this extended definition to support his claim that sentience is 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 cr i ter ion of moral standing, i t must be possible to decide which c r e a t u r e s a re s en t i en t . Is a mouse sentient? Singer's definition affords an unequivocal answer: because a Chapter Four 71 mouse can suffer , i t i s sent ient . B u t what about more s imple organisms? Invertebrates, which are probably not capable of suffering i n a n y c o n s c i o u s s e n s e , s t i l l m a n u f a c t u r e t h e n a t u r a l o p i a t e s associated with pleasure and pain. Are invertebrates sentient? It i s more difficult to respond with confidence, this time, but Sumner 's fu l le r def ini t ion of ' s en t i ence ' a f fo rds a p a r t i a l answer . ' P r imi t i ve forms; of sentience makes p o s s i b l e bene f i t s and 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 rs 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 allied to at least some capaci ty for agreeable and d i s ag reeab l e s ensa t i ons . T h u s , 'sentience' i n the dictionary sense extends to the same organisms as ' s e n t i e n c e ' i n t h e a n a l y t i c s e n s e . H o w e v e r , u n d e r s t a n d i n g contemporary sentientism is going to require us to recognise i n what sense contemporary philosophers speak of 'sentience'. A Divided Movement Hi s to r i ca l ly , sent ient is ts d i f f e r 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 sentientists are more l i k e l y to refer to the ' i n t e r e s t s ' s e n t i e n t c r e a t u r e s have i n vir tue of the capacities noted by Sumner. This difference between what I call 'hedonic' and ' interest-based' sentientism can become b lur red when interest theorists stress the moral importance of suffering, but the accounts are broadly distinct: hedonic sentientism is concerned solely with pleasures and pains while i n t e r e s t - b a s e d s e n t i e n t i s m recognises var ious k inds of i n t e r e s t s a s soc ia t ed wi th d i f f e r e n t degrees and k inds of awareness. In a d d i t i o n , some con tempora ry sentientists also disagree deeply about both the theoretical basis and the precise extent of the moral franchise: there is an on-going debate between broadly util i tarian versions of sentientism (particularly as they are championed by Singer) and Tom Regan's r ights-based 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 rea t hedonic sent ient ism, i n t e r e s t - b a s e d s e n t i e n t i s m , and a t h i r d ( re la t ive ly non-par t i san , but 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 reserved 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 and offers the f o l l o w i n g c l e a r r es ta tement of 9 classical util i tarian doctrine: I f a b e i n g s u f f e r s , t h e r e c a n be no m o r a l jus t i f i ca t ion for r e fus ing to t ake 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 l ike suffering (if rough comparisons can be made) of any other being. In his later writ ing, Singer embeds his compassionate heritage i n the more s o p h i s t i c a t e d r h e t o r i c of p r e f e r e n c e (or ' i n t e r e s t s ' ) utilitarianism. But, for now, i t i s the unadorned appeal to suffering I wish to consider. The Argument From Suffering Stated briefly, this appeal to suffering provides an argument for moral expansion which r u n s as fo l lows : I f a l l human s u f f e r i n g i s morally significant — regardless of the presence or absence of the ful l range of normal human capacities — then consistency requires treating al l comparable nonhuman suffering as significant, too. This entails extending the moral franchise to a l l sentient creatures. 1 ^ It will be useful to 'unpack' this summary a l i t t le, and present i t as an ini t ia 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 su f fe r ing i s mora l ly r e p u g n a n t , t h e n consistency requires taking 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, any Chapter Four 74 morally significant difference between humans and nonhumans has to depend on the possession and absence of genetic humanity. But to dist inguish between humans and nonhumans on this basis alone is arbi t rary preference . 1 1 It i s , therefore, i r rat ional to treat human suffering as morally significant while ignoring comparable nonhuman suffering. Nonhuman suffering must be taken into account, too, and that makes sentient nonhumans morally considerable. Resisting The Argument From Suffering A cr i t ic has three options for resist ing this conclusion: she may claim that human and non-human suffering are not comparable, deny that received morality views the comparable suffering of al l humans as significant, or attempt to display some morally relevant difference between humans and nonhumans which the argument from suffering has overlooked. In discussion, I have heard the f i rs 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, including 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 self-aware, 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 suppor t of the second op t ion , a c r i t i c might c la im ( w i t h 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 this i s false. For example, tor tur ing a psychopath for amusement would generally be held wrong, and at least part of the reason why i t would be thought wrong is that i t infl icts needless pain. What i s probably correct i s that received morality does not weigh the suffering of a l l humans equal ly . But , remember, the i n i t i a l q u e s t i o n i s not about re la t ive degrees of moral s ign i f i cance ; i t j u s t a s k s wh ich t h i n g s warrant some considera t ion . Rece ived mora l i ty does a c c o r d some considera t ion to a l l humans and some s i g n i f i c a n c e to a l l human suffering. The t h i r d opt ion requ i res 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 this distinction, what I earlier called generous moral humanism offers a c r i t e r i o n of moral s t a n d i n g wh ich i s an obvious choice: al l humans are members of, or have interests which interpenetrate with humans who are members of, a reciprocating moral community. The question, now, i s whether hedonic sentientism has the resources to reject this fundamental assertion. Moral Humanism Digs Its Heels In On the humanist s ide , i t wi l l be a r g u e d (as d e s c r i b e d i n the prev ious chapter) that moral i ty ' 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 insti tution, i s the protection and welfare of the community of moral agents. This mandate i s sa id both to genera te a moral f r a n c h i s e extending to al l humans and limit that franchise to humans. I have argued that there is reason for humanism to go further and enfranchise many domestic, sentient nonhumans as well, but because that will be thought con t rove r s i a l by many humanis t s , l e t us l i m i t d i s c u s s i o n Chapter Four 76 ini t ial ly to the moral humanism which balks at a moral franchise any larger than humanity. Hedonic sentientism may respond, ini t ia l ly , by urging humanists to follow the logic of their own desideratum. Just as i t is advantageous for a moral community to view al l avoidable human suffering as ev i l , so a community which extends this attitude to avoidable nonhuman suffering will tend to be generally more compassionate and afford i t s human members greater s e c u r i t y . T h i s a c c o r d s wel l w i th moral humanism's informing concern for human welfare and offers reason why humanists should not resist the assertion that nonhuman suffering matters for i ts own sake. But this argument i s certainly not conclusive. Humanism may reply that i t underestimates our capacity for marking moral distinctions and that adequate concern for human s u f f e r i n g i s a c h i e v a b l e wi thou t enfranchising nonhumans. At this stage, the issue becomes primarily empirical and hard 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 agents nor close associates , on the g r o u n d s t ha t d o i n g so enhances the secur i ty and we l l -be ing of a l l . I f t he d i s t i n c t i o n between considerable and inconsiderable humans is unsafe, why should we not mistrust the consequences of t ry ing to dist inguish between considerable and inconsiderable suffering? Someone who can ignore a tormented cat i s not a person I would e n t r u s t my welfare to : cal lousness to suf fe r ing i s ca l lousness to s u f f e r i n g w h e r e v e r the suffering occurs. Chapter Four 77 A Possibili ty To Note Sent ient is ts may also wish to appea l to more s u b t l e bene f i t s acc ru ing from moral expansion, s u c h as the ef fec ts of a b r o a d l y compassionate outlook on the person holding i t . But this must be done c a r e f u l l y . A l t h o u g h t h e i l l e f f e c t s of c r u e l t y on t h e p e r s o n responsib le for 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 r eason to a v o i d unnecessary nonhuman suffering, ci t ing this reason alone undercuts the case for moral expansion. This i s because an e n t i t y wi th moral standing is one which must be taken into account for the enti ty 's own sake, and i f nonhuman suffering is deemed significant only because of the consequences for the agent, then nonhumans are not being taken 13 into account for their own sakes. What i s necessary i s to argue that because of the broad advantages of an expanded moral 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 being said on beha 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 init ial question soon resolves in to a debate about dif ferent axiomatic concep t i ons of m o r a l i t y ' s informing purpose and aims, at which time expansionists resort to advertising the relative attractions of their wares. This i s what I have just been attempting to do on behalf of hedonic sentientism, but, 14 so far, the case is less than overwhelming. On the one hand, moral humanism s t i l l views morality primarily as 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 imar i ly as an i n s t i t u t i on conce rned wi th p l e a s u r e and s u f f e r i n g however they are embodied. Once this basic issue i s recognised, sentientism may attempt to gain some leverage by making a concession. It can be admitted that classical utilitarianism probably offers too simplistic an account of t h e m o r a l p e r s p e c t i v e i n i t s e n t i r e t y w h i l e s t i l l c h a m p i o n i n g u t i l i t a r ian ism's ins is tence that s u f f e r i n g i s mora l ly s i g n i f i c a n t wherever i t occurs. For many of us, the moral significance of pain is as axiomatic as humanism's explanation of morality's mandate, and we can claim a fair degree of support from current moral practice. But how shall we answer a convinced humanist who grudgingly sanctions moral expansion only so long as i t unquestionably benefits humans, and views new model humanism as the maximum possible compromise? Classical u t i l i t a r ian ism prov ides no f u r t h e r r e sponse b e y o n d the s imple insistence that moral humanism misunderstands the nature of morality. Humanists wi l l say the 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 , and 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 revision of the argument from suffering. INTEREST-BASED SENTIENTISM Interests, Preferences, And Desires Singer 's later, more developed, response to humanism utilises a version of what he calls 'preference utilitarianism', and we need an Chapter Four 79 unders tanding 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 the classical reference to pleasure and happiness, Singer's preference utilitarianism variously defines r ight actions as those which maximise preference or in te res t s a t i s f a c t i o n . 1 5 S i n g e r does not e x p l i c i t l y 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 ran t ing equivalent i n t e r e s t s e q u a l moral i m p o r t a n c e , i t seems that , despite 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 p r imar i ly concerned with i n t e r e s t s ; p r e f e r e n c e s are s i g n i f i c a n t because they are indicative of interests. Singer also recognises desire as a component of interests,1** and 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 s tep f u r t h e r , d e s c r i b i n g S inger ' s u t i l i t a r ian ism as the t h e o r y tha t r i g h t ac t i ons are those whose c o n s e q u e n c e s " f u r t h e r t h e i n t e r e s t s ( i . e . , d e s i r e s o r 17 preferences) of those affected". Regan ' s p a r a n t h e t i c a l g loss suggests that desires and preferences are equivalent to interests for Singer 's purposes, but this 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 through preference or des i re . For example, alcoholic humans f r e q u e n t l y i g n o r e food despite being malnourished. And, as the same example i l lustrates, an organism may also have interests contrary to preference or desire. In consequence, maximising interest satisfaction may sometimes require 18 ignoring expressed preference and desire. Chapter Four 80 ' Interests' Utilitarianism For a l l these reasons, I sha l l adopt the f o l l o w i n g d e f i n i t i v e reading of S inger ' s 'preference ' u t i l i t a r i a n i s m w h i c h , on o b v i o u s grounds, might have been better called ' interests utilitarianism': Singer's UTILITARIANISM requires a moral agent to maximise the interest satisfaction of al l creatures affected by the agent 's a c t i o n s . P r e f e r e n c e and desire are a guide to interests, but they are not totally reliable. For completeness, a thorough exp lana t ion of what c o n s t i t u t e s an ' in teres t ' needs to accompany t h i s d e f i n i t i o n , bu t l e t us r e l y , fo r now, on our o rd ina ry ( ' in tu i t ive ' ) u n d e r s t a n d i n g of ' i n t e r e s t s ' as they are asc r ibed to sent ient b e i n g s . S i n g e r does not of fer an e x p l i c i t e x p l a n a t i o n , a n d I s h a l l d i s c u s s t h e c o n t r i b u t i o n 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 cycl is ts who have ridden over glass, ru in ing a t y re apiece. To whom should I give my one spare tyre? Clearly, I am required to donate my ty re so as to maximise interest satisfaction. But suppose that one of the cycl is ts i s a friend and the other i s unknown to me. My inclination would be to give the spare to my fr iend, but doing so may not maximise interest satisfaction i f the other cycl is t has urgent business. In situations l ike this , Singer advocates a traditional principle of impartiality requir ing, "that we give equal weight i n our moral del iberat ions to the l i k e i n t e r e s t s of a l l t hose a f fec ted by o u r 19 actions." He advises that a moral agent should imagine " l i v ing the Chapter Four 81 l i v e s of a l l affected" by a dec is ion to ac t , de te rmine what a c t i o n "satisfies more preferences, adjusted according to the strength of the 20 preferences", and act accordingly. Alternatively, a moral agent may imagine herse l f an impar t ia l o b s e r v e r e q u a l l y c o n c e r n e d fo r the 21 interests of a l l affected. None of this allows me to follow personal inclination i n handing over my spare tyre : I must give i t to whoever has the greatest interest i n continuing their journey. The Argument From Interest S u p p l e m e n t e d by t h e p r i n c i p l e of i m p a r t i a l i t y , S i n g e r ' s utilitarianism now supports a modified version of the earlier argument 22 -from suffering, which I cal l 'the argument from interest ' : - A moral agent should seek to maximise interest satisfaction i n such a way as to satisfy an impartial observer. (It is helpful to imagine that the observer wi l l par take e q u a l l y - - and s i m u l t a n e o u s l y , i f n e c e s s a r y - - of t h e p l e a s u r e s a n d p a i n s , s a t i s f a c t i o n s a n d frustrations, of al l individual interest holders.) - In order to satisfy such an impartial observer, a moral agent must take into account al l significant interests affected by an action and assign equal weight to comparable interests. A moral agent must, therefore, take account of any significant nonhuman interests affected by an action and weigh them equitably d u r i n g decis ion making. Because a l l s e n t i e n t c r e a t u r e s have , at a minimum, a s ign i f ican t in te res t i n a v o i d i n g s u f f e r i n g , a l l s en t i en t creatures have an interest to take account of and weigh. They are, therefore, quite clearly morally considerable. Chapter Four 82 Carry ing The Debate Back To Humanism Granted the impar t ia l i ty p r i n c i p l e w h i c h t h i s a rgumen t s t a r t s with, the conclusion i s inescapable, and a humanist must deny that m o r a l i t y r e q u i r e s t h e i m p a r t i a l m a x i m i s a t i o n of i n t e r e s t 23 sa t is fact ion. For suppor t , moral humanism can aga in t u r n to 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, the interests of al l non-reciprocating members. Although satisfying this mandate will almost certainly entail some 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 cri ter ion of impartiality. Impartiality: A Problematic Ideal In practice, most of us regularly fail to take a fully impartial account of al l the interests affected by our actions. As described earlier, i f I met two cyclis ts who needed my spare ty re , my natural inclination would be to give i t to the one who was my fr iend. And i n a more ser ious s i tua t ion , with more t h a n a b i k e r i d e at s t ake , my inclination to prefer my friend would be stronger. Singer discusses this problem at length. His stance is similar to that of William Godwin, whom he offers as an example of a moral theorist committed to impartiality. Godwin asserted that impartiality i s r equ i r ed of us i n a l l c i r cumstances , even i f t h a t s h o u l d mean leaving one's father to die i n a fire i n order to rescue his (more Chapter Four 83 socially useful) employer. Godwin was bit terly condemned for this claim, but, although he eventually decided that rescuing one's 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 biased towards family and f r i ends , l i k e G o d w i n , he c o n t i n u e s to insis t that referr ing moral decisions to an impartial observer i s the 26 way to set the standard for r ight action. My understanding i s that Singer th inks 'human nature', and the psychological difficulties which would ensue i f moral agents at tempted a t o t a l l y i m p a r t i a l view of i n t e r e s t s , e n t a i l t h a t , i n p r a c t i c e , i n t e r e s t s a t i s f a c t i o n i s maximised by al lowing cer ta in k i n d s of p r e f e r e n t i a l t r ea tment . However, he t h i n k s that i f we c o u l d r e l y on moral agen ts to 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 is t rue, but I do a n t i c i p a t e s e r i o u s p r o b l e m s as a r e s u l t of m a k i n g t o t a l impar t ia l i ty a moral des idera tum. To b e g i n w i t h , note t h a t the preferential treatment of close associates i s l ikely 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 d i f f i c u l t p o s i t i o n : w h e r e a s common m o r a l p r a c t i c e i n v o l v e s expectations of preferential treatment, ideal morality gainsays those expectations. In effect, the conscientious moral agent faces a double standard. Even i f the to ta l ly impar t ia l view i s , s t r i c t l y s p e a k i n g , the r i g h t Chapter Four 84 one to adopt, recognising special obligations to close associates runs deep (as Singer acknowledges), and vir tue '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 think i t i s precisely his awareness of this 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 a b a n d o n i n g t h e i m p a r t i a l i t y r e q u i r e m e n t a l t o g e t h e r , s t r i c t impartiality i s downgraded from a moral ideal (something which we are enjoined to realise) to a theoretical moral start ing 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 justif ied, divergence will 27 c a r r y no stigma. No obvious double s t a n d a r d w i l l be c r e a t e d ; however, so long as complete impartiality remains even a theoretical point of departure, i t will follow that, were we capable of l iv ing by the impartial view, doing so would be best. In consequence, moral theory will convey the negative message that humans are too flawed to l ive by a fully rational morality. Although some religious traditions may seem to have been buil t around this 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 Principle 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 i n favour of an 'honest representative of Chapter Four 85 usual moral practice' . Parts of Singer 's discussion lend themselves to just this development. Using an evolutionary argument to explain why impartiality has become a feature of moral decision making, Singer suggests that morality traditionally involves just i fying decisions and conduct to one's ne ighbours , and he a r g u e s t h a t s a t i s f y i n g those ne ighbours wi l l f requent ly 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 view of interests. Singer then suggests that thoughtful moral neighbours will only be fu l ly sa t i s f ied i f dec is ions and c o n d u c t would s a t i s f y an 28 impartial observer. But why suppose this? It i s at least equally reasonable to think our ne ighbours wi l l be sa t i s f ied by a moral out look wh ich i s d i s in te res ted enough to promote t h e g e n e r a l welfare whi le s t i l l permit t ing everyone to exercise t r a d i t i o n a l p r e f e r e n c e s fo r c lose associates. In th i s case, ins tead of i m p a r t i a l o b s e r v e r t h e o r y , morality only needs that standard of impartiality which i s generally required 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 is rejected, or even i f i t i s reduced to a theore t ica l s t a r t ing point , t h e n what fo l lows i s a s e r i o u s weakening of the argument from interest. Instead of appealing to an idea l of complete impar t ia l i ty to e x p l a i n the moral s i g n i f i c a n c e of nonhuman interests, sentientism must offer reasons for requir ing that moral agents view aU comparable interests with enough impartiality to ju s t i fy moral expansion. Given t h a t moral humanism's i n f o r m i n g conception of morality implicitly denies that such a view i s morally required, moral humanism and util i tarian sentientism are again faced Chapter Four 86 with a need to address the i r d i f f e r i n g concep t i ons of t he moral en te rpr i se . These conceptions u n d e r p i n the d i sag reemen t about impartiality and cannot be subordinated to i t for long. Fur thermore , even i f we do p e r s o n a l l y endor se S i n g e r ' s f u l l impar t ia l i ty requirement , there i s s t i l l a major d i sag reemen t to address: a humanist l ike Melden remains free to assert that neither concern for nonhuman interests, nor an impartiality principle which extends to nonhumans, have any part i n humanism's conception of morality. Settling the issue will then require us to determine just what 'the moral point of view' does demand of us i n the way of impartiality. And , as the above discussion indicates, there is 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 this . F i rs t , pursuing the problem of impartiality per se i s unlikely to shed l ight on the i n i t i a l q u e s t i o n . I n o r d e r to d e v e l o p a more s o l i d ca se f o r sentientism, we must discuss morality's mandate. Second, the argument from in teres t , which takes the p r i n c i p l e of i m p a r t i a l i t y as i t s i n i t i a l premise, r i s k s begging the i n i t i a l q u e s t i o n by a s suming an 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 identifies his difference with humanism as being about the purpose 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 was limited to securing mutual benefits for human agents. But he 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 cal l the 'argument from rational generosity': Moral agents are required to take a largely impartial view of comparable human interests except in certain special circumstances. (As d iscussed above, S inger 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 moral perspective is 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 by a concern for rational consistency. Rational consistency requires taking equal account of l ike human and nonhuman interests unless there i s good reason to disregard the nonhuman interests. Nonhumans have a clear interest i n avoiding suffering. Given the absence of any possible morally relevant difference between suffering humans a n d n o n h u m a n s o t h e r t h a n t h e i r g e n e t i c d i f f e r e n c e s , impartiality and consistency provide reason to take account of the nonhuman interest i n avoiding suffering. Therefore, sentient nonhumans Chapter Four 88 are morally considerable. Furthermore, ignoring nonhuman suffering and m o r a l s t a n d i n g w i l l , w i t h n e a r i n e v i t a b i l i t y , y i e l d ' p s y c h i c dissonance ' i n anyone sens i t ive to the need fo r i m p a r t i a l i t y and consistency i n moral judgements. Singer 's Strategy S inger ' s s t ra tegy i s i n t e r e s t i n g . A l t h o u g h he employs the vocabulary of interests and makes classical utilitarianism's concern for suffering the final ground for moral expansion, there is nothing i n the argument which requires us to be utilitarians. A l l we need accept i s that suffering, impartiality, and rational consistency are important i n moral reasoning. This absence of de t a i l ed t h e o r e t i c a l support i s a strength, not a weakness, i n an argument which seeks widespread acceptance, and i t w i l l be c o n v e n i e n t to i d e n t i f y a distinct version of sentientism founded i n this approach. I shall call i t 'soft sentientism'. Also note that Singer i s re turning the burden of proof to the c r i t i c by claiming t h a t e v e r y d a y mora l i ty a l r eady fosters habits of thought and practice which make i t unreasonable to treat l ike suffering i n different ways. Final ly, Singer argues that ignoring nonhuman moral standing will result i n psychic dissonance, i n other words, a state of emotional and intellectual discomfort similar to the experience of t r y i n g to embrace a c o n t r a d i c t i o n . S i n g e r i s say ing that i t i s n igh impossible fo r a c o n s c i e n t i o u s moral agent , b rought up i n our t r ad i t ions , to t r e a t nonhuman s u f f e r i n g as inconsiderable. Continuing Debate This strategy is effective. Clearly, sentient nonhumans suffer and h a v e ' i n t e r e s t s ' i n a manner s i m i l a r to h u m a n s . C o u p l e d w i t h Chapter Four 89 impartiality and consistency, and without too much of a theoretical burden, this seems enough to settle the issue: sentient nonhumans are 31 considerable . Fur thermore , S i n g e r appea r s to be r i g h t when he postulates an evolutionary expansion of received morality — at least i n the English-speaking world — as part and parcel of a concern for greater consistency. My experience is 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 is arguably a consequence of a general expansion of moral sympathy which has occurred dur ing the latter half of the 20th century. Am I caught up i n a moral t rend flawed i n ways I am not noticing? Partly as an antidote to t h i s pos s ib i l i t y , and p a r t l y because i t i s i m p o r t a n t to 32 secure humanist support for moral expansion, I am going to play devil 's advocate: How might a moral humanist respond to Singer? What else i s there to say i n suppor t of the a rgument from r a t i o n a l generosity? A False Doctrine, Or A Moral Inevitabili ty? Humanism's best strategy is 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 'psychic dissonance' consequent on resist ing moral expansion can be corrected by properly understanding Chapter Four 90 this . But Singer has a reply. He is 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 this role, impartiality and consistency have gradually become a cen t ra l feature of morality u n t i l t h e y are now p o w e r f u l enough c o n c e r n s to l e a d r a t i o n a l m o r a l 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. Just as I claimed, earlier, that a broadly compassionate moral attitude open to al l suffering benefits humans, so Singer i s now saying that impartiality and consistency broad enough to enfranchise nonhumans bene f i t s us . T h i s speaks directly to moral humanism's concern for human welfare; however, i t is open to the humanist objection that i t remains largely a speculative, empirical claim. Experiments In Psychic Dissonance Singer also has 'psychic dissonance' to appeal to. Suppose that a moral humanist i s wi l l ing to agree, i n i t i a l l y , to the e x p a n s i o n 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 is not? If anything promises psych ic dissonance th i s does. B u t a humanis t might t ake t h a t as further evidence of the need to resist al l expansion beyond humankind. Perhaps a less partisan thought experiment will b r ing psychic dissonance closer to humanism's own c o n c e r n s . Suppose t ha t an inherently sadistic, but usually cautious and conventionally behaved person f inds herse l f alone with a s e n t i e n t c r e a t u r e who n e i t h e r Chapter Four 91 belongs to a moral community, nor has caring friends or relatives. It i s possible to torture and k i l l th is creature without anyone else ever being affected. Doing so will br ing the sadist pleasure and release, but i t will not increase her sadism, add to the emotional problems which have made her a sadist, or weaken any effect her moral education has had. Would the torture be morally wrong? Imagine, f i r s t , tha t the c rea tu re i s a s en i l e o ld man wi th no l iv ing relatives or friends; second, that he is a psychopath; t h i rd , 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 torture a psychopath who has never contributed to the community, and apparently nothing at al l to say against t o r t u r i n g the cat. Can an hones t , c o n s c i e n t i o u s moral agent raised i n our moral traditions t ru ly appreciate and l ive with these moral limits? If so, the case against moral humanism remains 35 incomplete. If not, humanists must become sentientists. Sentientism In Practice Sometimes, i t seems that once debate reaches this stage, fear of sent ient ism's adverse effect on human welfare i s a l l t h a t i s l e f t holding humanists back. But although Singer has made a considerable reputation defending vegetarianism and the need to cur ta i l experiments on nonhumans, and a l though he a rgues c o g e n t l y t ha t an 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 of e x p e r i m e n t a t i o n be prepared to le t thousands die from a t e r r i b l e disease which could be cured by experimenting on one animal? This i s a purely hypothetical question, Chapter Four 92 since experiments do not have s u c h d ramat ic 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 rder to save thousands , I would t h i n k i t right. . . Morally considerable entities are not beyond al l sacrifice according 38 to Singer 's vision of sentientism. An Inconclusive End To The Present Debate This completes the sentientist case which util i tarian philosophers have buil t around Bentham's concern for nonhuman suffering. Has enough now been said to constitute a rationally satisfactory case for making sentience ( in the analy t ic sense) a s u f f i c i e n t c o n d i t i o n of mora l standing? The argument from rational generosity offers the best case by combining elements of hedonic and i n t e r e s t - b a s e d s e n t i e n t i s m without the burden of uti l i tarian moral theory, and i t goes a long way to explaining the pre-theoretical sense that a capacity for suffering should be sufficient to secure moral standing. But I s t i l l f ind 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 is morally important? After a l l , S i n g e r c la ims tha 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 is that Singer overestimates our tradit ion'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 ocus on suffering and interests per se i s a radical and controversial change; i t r equ i res a new concept ion of m o r a l i t y ' s p u r p o s e wh ich i s more appropr ia te ly represented 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 by Singer's chosen figure of a smoothly expanding circle . I, therefore, Chapter Four 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 the i n i t i a l ques t ion) , p r o p o n e n t s of g r e a t e r mora l generosi ty must address the d i f f e r ences between humanism and sentientism — and th is matter of the paradigm shift — more directly 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 insights , 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 is now set aside unt i l we take i t up again in Chapter Nine. Chapter Four 94 Chapter Five SENTIENTISM WITHOUT AGGREGATION Beside the broadly util i tarian approach of the last chapter, we need to set Tom Regan's d ispute w i th S i n g e r . Regan a r g u e s t h a t maximising aggregated interest satisfaction — which is how Singer 's u t i l i t a r ian ism seeks impar t i a l i ty — i s i ncompa t ib l e w i th r e c e i v e d moral i ty, and i t v i t ia tes i n t e r e s t - b a s e d s e n t i e n t i s m . T h i s c r i t i c i s m offers an important perspective on the util i tarian approach to moral expansion, and Regan's 'rights-view* is a possible alternative to soft sentientism. There are two aspects to Regan's r e j e c t i o n of i n t e r e s t - b a s e d sentientism which i t i s helpful to recognise from the outset. On one hand, Regan, l ike Singer, wants the higher mammals protected from human abuse. However, Regan i s not s a t i s f i e d t ha t u t i l i t a r i a n sentientism affords them adequate protection. As discussed i n the last chapter , human welfare sometimes appea r s to j u s t i f y s a c r i f i c i n g nonhuman l ives and interests, and Regan hopes to show that the higher mammals warrant a degree of moral standing which vir tual ly precludes this . On the other hand, Regan develops an account of moral scope which w i l l s e c u r e h i s g o a l by t a k i n g i s s u e w i t h S i n g e r ' s f o r m of utilitarianism per se. In papers and a book published over about ten y e a r s , 1 Regan inc reas ing ly comes to offer the r i g h t s - v i e w as a necessary antidote to Singer 's moral theory independently of any need 2 for moral expansion. His tac t ic i s , f i r s t , to e x h i b i t a f law i n Singer's utilitarianism (maximising aggregated interest satisfaction sometimes entai ls s ac r i f i c ing human l i f e , c o n t r a r y to r e c e i v e d Chapter Five 95 morality); second, to repair the difficulty (by ascribing a vi r tual ly inalienable r ight to life to individuals); t h i rd , to show us that, i n consequence, many nonhumans are as morally well-protected as humans (they satisfy the cri ter ion for a r ight to life). There i s nothing disingenuous about this combination of personal motive and philosophical tactic, and Regan is quite open about his 3 search for a means to a very specific end. However, the possibility for confusing Regan's motives wi th h i s a rgument r ema in , i f on ly because he i s so exp l ic i t about the fo rmer . In o f f e r i n g a c r i t i c a l appraisal of the r ights view, I shall attempt to provide a brief guide to Regan's argument which separates these two aspects. CAN HUMAN LIFE BE LEGITIMATELY SACRIFICED? Introducing Aunt Bea Regan thinks Singer 's problems begin when (true to utilitarianism) he defines a r i g h t act ion as one w h i c h maximises p r e f e r e n c e or interest satisfaction. To make his point, Regan asks us to suppose that by secre t ly k i l l i n g h is r i c h and e l d e r l y A u n t Bea , he w i l l inheri t her fortune. In consequence, Regan will be able to satisfy many of his own interests and, through acts of generousity, many interests held by other people. In such a case, says Regan, Singer must judge that k i l l ing Aunt Bea i s justif ied: after a l l , the k i l l ing will maximise interest satisfaction. But Regan insists that received morality holds such k i l l ing to be wrong. He concludes that Singer 's u t i l i t a r i a n i s m i s i n c o m p a t i b l e w i t h r e c e i v e d m o r a l i t y a n d i s , 4 therefore, an unsatisfactory moral theory. Possible Responses Before thrus t ing an alternative into the gap, Regan attributes a Chapter Five 96 series of possible responses to Singer; he fears that Singer wants to a m e l i o r a t e t h e 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 r e c e i v e d morality. 5 Regan begins with Singer's distinction between beings which are merely conscious and beings which are s e l f - c o n s c i o u s . S i n g e r argues that although a conscious being is 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 iv ing or dy ing . By contrast, a self-conscious being i s self aware, knows that i t has a future, and i n al l likelihood does prefer l iv ing to dy ing . Thus, when i t comes to comparing in te res t s , a s e l f - consc ious b e i n g ( l i k e a human) has a p r e f e r e n c e f o r l i f e to t a k e i n t o a c c o u n t . I t f o l l o w s t h a t t h e interests which would be satisfied by k i l l ing Aunt Bea and spending her fortune must be set against her own interest i n l i v ing . On behalf of received morality, Regan now asks, Will Aunt Bea's interest i n life always entail that k i l l ing Aunt Bea would be wrong? Singer recognises that i t does not: "the wrong done to the person k i l l e d i s merely one factor to be t a k e n i n t o accoun t , a n d . . . c o u l d sometimes be outweighed by the preferences of others."** Singer 's position is plain. The sacrifice of human life i s morally acceptable when i t maximises aggregated interest satisfaction. Fur ther Responses? Regan's other proffered loopholes do not offer positions I foresee Singer embracing. F i rs t , Singer i s said to claim that whereas merely conscious beings are 'receptacles', whose moral significance i s only the sum of their preferences, self-conscious beings have some moral worth i n themselves, independently of their interests. However, this appears to be a misreading. In the discussion Regan Chapter Five 97 refers to, S inger i s poin t ing out one advan tage of c o n t e m p o r a r y u t i l i t a r ian ism over the c lass ica l fo rm. S i n g e r c r e d i t s c l a s s i c a l utilitarianism with valuing a person's pleasure, but not valuing the 7 person herself . This has a d i s t u r b i n g consequence : i f i t i s o n l y pleasure per se which is of value, then there is no moral difference between euthanising Aunt Bea and dis t r ibut ing her share of pleasure amongst others, and letting Aunt Bea l ive . According to Singer, his version of utilitarianism avoids this problem by recognising that Aunt Bea has a unique and powerful i n t e r e s t i n c o n t i n u i n g he r l i f e . However, t h i s does not enta i l t ha t Bea has moral s i g n i f i c a n c e independent ly of her in te res t s . F u r t h e r m o r e , and p e r h a p s more fundamentally, there i s nothing i n Singer's moral theory 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 enrich utilitarianism with a principle of equality which would require an even distr ibution of interest satisfaction. I am not going to pursue this part of Regan's argument 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 espouse d i s t r i b u t i v e equa l i ty . For one t h i n g , a p r i n c i p l e of d i s t r i b u t i v e equality i s bound to be i n tension with utilitarianism's aggregative goals, and, although current uti l i tarian theory i s subtle, i t i s hard to imagine i t def in ing r i g h t act ion so l e ly i n t e rms of a g g r e g a t i v e preference satisfaction, then t r y i n g to avoid the conclusion that life may (sometimes) be legi t imately s a c r i f i c e d i n o r d e r to maximise interest satisfaction elsewhere. Besides, Singer clearly tells us that he accepts the possibility of sacrifice. Chapter Five 98 Regan Is Unwill ing To Compromise Does a l l t h i s mean that Regan i s r i g h t , and S i n g e r ' s v iew of morality i s seriously at odds with received moral thinking? Before we seek a def in i t ive answer, i t i s i m p o r t a n t to r e c o g n i s e t h a t the d i spa r i t y i s ce r t a in ly less b la tant t h a n Regan p e r c e i v e s . S i n g e r t h i n k s that , i n prac t ice , u t i l i t a r i a n c a l c u l a t i o n r a r e l y j u s t i f i e s sacrificing human life. He ascribes such a strong interest i n l iv ing to se l f -conscious beings , based (as ment ioned above) on t h e i r preference for con t inu ing l i f e , t h a t he t h i n k s o the r a g g r e g a t e d interests will not often outweigh i t . Singer i s sure that Aunt Bea's interest in continuing her life will preclude the k ind of easy ki l l ing Regan contemplates when he eyes Aunt Bea's fortune.1** The problem is that this seems not to be good enough for Regan: he i s adamant that rece ived morality re jects any p o s s i b i l i t y t h a t human l i f e can be legi t imately sacr i f iced i n o rder to maximise a g g r e g a t e d i n t e r e s t satisfaction, and he is sure that Singer 's moral theory is a threat to Aunt Bea. TRIAL BY SHIPWRECK The Dog In The Lifeboat The quest ion now i s , Whose pos i t ion bes t resembles r e c e i v e d morality? In answering i t , Regan takes up an example which proves to have unwelcome (and, for Regan, unanticipated) implications for the r ights-view. Regan asks us to suppose that there are four normal adults and a dog i n a lifeboat big enough for four bod i e s . 1 1 Who goes overboard? The r ights-view recognises that the adults and the dog have interests which are equal ly well protected from s a c r i f i c e . T h e r e f o r e , the Chapter Five 99 r ights-view appears to offer no principled support for the common sense decision to throw out the dog and save the adults. But Regan a r g u e s t h a t t h e r e i s a f a c t o r t o c o n s i d e r w h i c h w i l l j u s t i f y 12 sacrificing the dog: ...the harm tha t death i s , i s a f u n c t i o n of the oppor tuni t ies for sa t i s fac t ion i t f o r ec lo se s , and no reasonable person would deny that the death of any of the four humans would be a greater prima facie loss, and thus a greater prima facie harm, than would be true 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 is inevitable, and that makes i t legitimate to act so as to maximise i n t e r e s t s a t i s f a c t i o n . Note that, i n a situation l ike this one, there is no question of having to aggregate interests. Supposing I Had To Choose But wi l l a consequent ia l ca lcu la t ion of r e l a t i v e i n d i v i d u a l loss necessar i ly harmonise with r ece ived mora l i ty i n t h i s case? Le 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 verdict because humans have more opportunities for dissatisfaction and suffering than a dog. On balance, the family pet may have a better chance of a s a t i s f y i n g l i f e t h a n , f o r e x a m p l e , an a l c o h o l i c , u n e m p l o y e d , unskil led, 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 of the decision Chapter Five 100 procedure he recommends. In support of Regan, i t may be said that Singer's utilitarianism entails the same decision, but this overlooks an important difference between the positions. Singer explicitly admits to some discrepancy between the consequences of util i tarian theory and received morality, 13 and he tr ies to deal with the problem. By contrast, Regan advertises the r i gh t s -v i ew as compatible wi th r e c e i v e d mora l i t y ; t h a t i s one reason we are supposed to prefer the r ights-view. It may also be said that although Regan portrays death as a harm because of the opportunities for satisfaction which i t forecloses, the 14 interruption of plans i s a harm independently of lost satisfaction. And i f plans are morally relevant, that may be one reason why received morality is so much more inclined to preserve humans than dogs: dogs do not have long term plans. But this does not help Regan either. Plans are not d i s t r i bu t ed equa l ly amongst a l l humans — some intellectually impaired humans will have 'plans' hardly more complex than a dog's — and i f moral status is made to partly depend on the possession of plans , some humans a re l i k e l y to be more mora l ly significant than others. As we shall f ind short ly, this is contrary to Regan's insistence that 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 decis ion procedure which wi l l not a lways a c c o r d wi th r e c e i v e d morality. Chapter Five 101 Another Travel Disaster Suppose, now, that the lifeboat i s overloaded with an entirely human pa r ty . Regan would use a n o n - a g g r e g a t i v e , 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 p r o s p e c t s i n o r d e r to d e t e r m i n e who i s to 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 duty. Because Regan will not permit aggregation, he is going to have to let the surgeon take the 15 swim. However, my sense is that most people would wish to see one of the sociopaths leave the life raft; moreover, this decision can be justified by aggregating the interest satisfaction of the surgeon's fu ture c l ien t s . Here i s an ins tance when p e r m i t t i n g a g g r e g a t i o n apparently yields a decision more i n accord with received morality. Shipwreck And Pestilence Final ly, suppose the dog is returned to the lifeboat, which i s now big enough, and well provisioned enough, to sustain i ts passengers u n t i l rescue. Unfor tunate ly , the dog c a r r i e s a d i sease wh ich w i l l b l ind the human passengers 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 dying than a human will lose by going bl ind; therefore, Regan's r ights-view can accommodate the decision to k i l l the dog so long as the losses and harms which are r e c o g n i s e d as j u s t i f y i n g sacrifice are not limited to the loss of life. But Regan would not accept this . Not only i s he adamant that sacrifice i s only justified when a l i fe i s a l ready at s take, i t would do him d i s s e r v i c e to attribute the weaker position to him: i f Regan sanctioned nonhuman Chapter Five 102 sacrifice obviating loss less than life, then the door would be open to a host of possible consequential grounds for k i l l ing . This would prevent Regan secur ing the h i g h l e v e l of moral p r o t e c t i o n f o r nonhumans which he seeks. Brothers Under The Skin? These examples — and they could easily be multiplied — indicate that, l ike Singer's utilitarianism, Regan's r ights-view does not enjoy an untroubled relationship with received morality. For one th ing , they both tend to sanct ion the sac r i f i ce of human l i f e when r e c e i v e d morality would not (as i n the ex tens ion of the f i r s t example) . Furthermore, Regan's view will sometimes indicate the sacrifice of a human life other than that chosen by received morality (the second example), or i t wi l l re ject s ac r i f i c e of a nonhuman when r e c e i v e d morality endorses i t (the th i rd example). In consequence, there is a need to review our reading of Regan. Although he has advertised compatibility with received morality as a major strength of the r ights-view, there is notable incompatibility. It i s , therefore, best to read Regan as offering a reforming doctrine, r a ther than one suppor ted by f u l l c o m p a t i b i l i t y w i th r e c e i v e d morality. This puts Regan on a more equal footing with Singer. Regan seeks compatibility between moral theory and the crucial sense that human life can rarely be legitimately sacrificed, and Singer, too, can put his name to this so long as i t does read ' rarely ' and not 'never ' . The question, now, i s whether Regan can convince us there is a case for preferr ing the r ights-view, and rejecting al l sacrifice based on aggregation, without casting Singer as the counter-intuit ive vi l lain and himself as the saving voice of common-sense. Chapter Five 103 THE INHERENT VALUE OF HUMAN LIFE Protecting Aunt Bea It i s S inge r ' s u t i l i t a r i an , i n t e r e s t - b a s e d , va lue a s s i g n a t i o n s 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 ts value can be outweighed by other people's i n t e r e s t s . 1 6 T h e r e f o r e , i n o r d e r to p rov ide a theore t ica l basis for r e s i s t a n c e 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 take, here, as cont inued l i f e ) , Regan a r g u e s t h a t moral theory must assign value to individuals i n a non-util i tarian way. He proposes granting a person an 'inherent' value independently of her i n t e r e s t s w h i c h w i l l t a k e p r e c e d e n c e o v e r a lmos t a l l o t h e r 17 considerations. The following argument against sacrificing Aunt Bea is then possible: Sacrificing Aunt Bea i n order to maximise interest satisfaction i s us ing her merely as a means of a c h i e v i n g the bes t agg rega t e consequences. (Except when the loss of a life i s already inevitable.) - Moral agents are required to adopt a Kantian view of "individuals who have. . . inherent va lue" and e n s u r e t h a t t h e y are not " t r e a t e d merely as means to securing the best aggregate consequences".1** Therefore, recognising that Aunt Bea has inherent value protects h e r a g a i n s t b e i n g s a c r i f i c e d i n o r d e r to maximise i n t e r e s t satisfaction. (Except when the loss of a life i s already inevitable.) The Exception The parenthe t ica l exception to t h i s a rgument i s i m p o r t a n t to Regan's case. Without i t , the conclusion would be highly questionable because — as already ind ica ted by Regan ' 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 rea t ing someone as an end i n h e r s e l f i s not a lways inconsistent with sacrificing her life for consequential reasons. To take a more mundane example of this , suppose that Bea crashed her car i n such a way that freeing either Bea or her passenger from the wreckage will necessarily and equally endanger the other's l i fe . In this case, to treat Bea as an end i n herself amongst other ends is arguably to weigh Bea's interest i n l iv ing alongside her passenger's 19 interest i n l i v ing , then decide whose interest i s greatest. In other words — as mentioned above — when l o s s of l i f e i s a l r e a d y inevitable, Regan thinks i t reasonable to decide who should die by ask ing who has the most to lose. Hence, Regan s a n c t i o n s the 20 parenthetical exception. A Practical Sijmilarity And A Theoretical Difference What R e g a n p e r c e i v e s as t h e e s s e n t i a l f l aw i n S i n g e r ' s utilitarianism can now be placed alongside a definitive statement of his own view of legitimate sacrifice: Regan re jects preference u t i l i t a r i a n i s m because i t s a n c t i o n s consequential calculations which aggregate benefits and harms i n such a way that a big harm (death) done to one person can be offset by a host of small benefits ( in teres t s a t i s f a c t i o n s ) en joyed by many others. - However, Regan does not reject al l consequential calculations, only aggregative calculations, and calculations involving sacrifice which are made when death i s not a l ready i n e v i t a b l e . When dea th i s inev i tab le , Regan exp l i c i t ly r e c o g n i s e s t h a t i t i s l eg i t ima te to sacrifice one of the parties and to use a consequential calculation of their prospects i n deciding who. Chapter Five 105 Given that Regan countenances sacrifice under some circumstances, that Singer i s at pains to r e s t r i c t l eg i t imate s a c r i f i c e , a n d tha t both court incompatibility with received morality, there is now clear question whether Regan's position is that different from Singer 's i n practice. And when i t comes time to decide how much credence to give the r ights-view, this will be an important consideration. However, for now, i t is the theoretical difference between Singer and Regan which demands our attention. Singer sanctions aggregating interests across i n d i v i d u a l s even when doing so l e g i t i m i s e s o the rwi se a vo idab l e sacr i f ice , and Regan absolutely opposes t h i s i n the name of the inherent value of the individual . Who is r ight? Back In The Court Of Received Opinion Because Regan i s so concerned about r e c e i v e d m o r a l i t y , i t i s reasonable to approach this question by asking whose position best coincides with our pre-theoretical understanding. The second lifeboat example (when i t carr ied 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 se r ious ly d i sab l ing disease. My sense i s t h a t r e c e i v e d mora l i ty would sanction ki l l ing the one sick person. In general, when a lot of people are going to suffer a large loss which one major sacrifice will avo id , the major sacr i f ice i s p robab ly l eg i t ima te . C e r t a i n l y , Regan must shoulder the burden of proof i f he wants to assert otherwise. But the opposite may be t rue when benefits not losses are at issue, as i n the case of k i l l ing Aunt Bea. Would i t be r ight for me to k i l l the he i r to the Gucc i for tune i n o r d e r to endow u n i v e r s i t y scholarships i n philosophy? Probably not. How about k i l l ing enough Chapter Five 106 r i ch people — and somehow acquiring their fortunes — to provide al l capable candidates (world-wide) with a universi ty education? Again, I think that received morality would balk at this . What i s more, there is good reason why morality should not readily countenance sacrif icing a human life for reasons of aggregated benefits 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 hard to require that others would. However, we might make the noble choice i f we were, for example, untreatable disease carr iers . 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 i n harmony with received morality when he claims that aggregating otherwise inevitable harms (less than the loss of life) can justify sacrificing a life. By the same token, Regan may be better tuned to everyday th inking 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 ight . SEEKING A BASIS FOR HUMAN VALUE Two Questions Requiring Answers To complete our understanding of the r ights-view, we need Regan's reasons for at tr ibuting adequate inherent value to individuals l ike 21 Aunt Bea. Regan in t roduces the a d d i t i o n a l no t ions of ' r i g h t s ' , ' justice' , and 'respect' when discussing inherent value. Thus, there i s 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 lustrat ing what granting inherent value to Bea involves. That i s the matter to settle f i rs t . Chapter Five 107 Rights, Justice, and Respect Regan needs to secure a r ight to life for Aunt Bea which will protect her , and s imilar i n d i v i d u a l s , f rom b e i n g s a c r i f i c e d to an aggregation of other interests. (This i s the r ight which gives the ' r ights-view' i t s name.) Underlying the r ight which Regan seeks he f inds a 'bas ic ' or ' na tu ra l r i g h t ' to r e s p e c t . By a ' n a t u r a l r i g h t ' Regan means one which is fully grounded i n qualities possessed by the 22 r ight holder. Underlying the natural r ight to respect, Regan finds inheren t value. Thus , the r i g h t s Regan i s d i s c u s s i n g are e n t i r e l y dependent upon the possession of inherent value. The story regarding ' jus t i ce ' i s the same. ' J u s t t reatment ' i s v i r t u a l l y de f ined as ' the 23 respect due to a creature with inherent value'. What of respect itself? In one passage Regan discusses a "respect principle" which precludes using inherently valuable persons "as i f 24 their value depended upon their u t i l i ty" . But the respect principle only says: "We are to treat those individuals who have inherent value i n ways which respect their inherent value." This amounts to saying that inherently valuable individuals must be treated as inherently valuable individuals . And when we look further, we find that this involves never using inherently valuable individuals "merely as means to securing the best aggregate consequences." Thus, 'respect' makes no 25 apparent contribution of i ts own; respect, too, is based i n inherent value. Why Ascribe Inherent Value to Individuals?^* We can r e t u r n to the quest ion why i n h e r e n t va lue s h o u l d be ascribed to individuals l ike Aunt Bea, knowing that this i s central to understanding the r ights-view. Regan states that the inherent value of Chapter Five 108 individuals must be independent of any qualities which individuals share unequally; otherwise, inherent value could not afford the near 27 absolute and equal protection offered by received morality. Given human divers i ty , th is 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 ea r ly , most n o n c o n t r o v e r s i a l l y have [ inherent] value — the people r e a d i n g t h i s , fo r example — i t i s our s i m i l a r i t i e s . . . t h a t matter most. And the really crucial , the basic similarity i s simply this; we are each of us the experiencing subject of a life, each of us a conscious creature having an individual welfare that has importance to us whatever our usefulness to others. In other words, each of us has our own inner life — our own unique window on affairs, with our accompanying thoughts and sensations — and we al l prize ourselves independently of our usefulness and our 29 individual qualities and characteristics. But this s t i l l leaves the question, Why does th is preclude sacrif icing experiencing subjects except when death is already inevitable? Is That All? In apparent answer, Regan offers a description of what i t i s l ike to be an experiencing subjec t :^ We want and prefer things; believe and feel things; recall and expect things. And al l these dimensions of our life, including our pleasure and pain, our enjoyment and su f f e r ing , o u r s a t i s f a c t i o n and f r u s t r a t i o n , o u r c o n t i n u e d e x i s t e n c e o r o u r untimely death — a l l make a d i f f e r e n c e to the quality of our life as l ived , as experienced by us as individuals . However, this only appears to say that an experiencing subject has a capacity for pleasure and pain, and has preferences and interests. Granted, this i s a commonality with sentient non-humans — especially the higher mammals Regan is so concerned about — and so here, at Chapter Five 109 last, are clear grounds for extending moral consideration to other sentient beings. However, these are the same grounds cited by the interest-based sentientism which Regan rejects. What i s more, they offer no apparent basis for a r ight 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 feel ing let down and p u z z l e d by t h i s s u p p o s e d denouement; i t seems unequal to the theory Regan has constructed and to the conclusions he advocates. Let us look further. S inger offers an in te rp re ta t ion of the r i g h t s - v i e w wh ich does 31 complete the account: An experiencing subject i s capable of pleasures and satisfactions which have int r ins ic value. Life is a p re requ is i t e for p leasures and s a t i s f a c t i o n s . 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 reason to sac r i f i ce 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 is , I think, a significant component of the r i gh t s -v i ew g iven i t s f i n a l e g a l i t a r i a n i s m . B u t , i n o the r respects , S inger ' s reading i s an u n s a t i s f a c t o r y r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of Regan's mature position. A Util i tarian 'Rights-View* Firs t , i t i s Singer, rather than Regan, who grounds the value of an exper iencing l i fe i n pleasure and s a t i s f a c t i o n . I f l i f e i s o n l y valuable because i t makes pleasure and satisfaction possible, then l i fe has ins t rumenta l , not i n h e r e n t v a l u e . F u r t h e r m o r e , Regan c r i t i c i s e s Singer for hold ing t h i s v i ew , a r g u i n g tha t i t r e d u c e s Chapter Five 110 exper iencing l i fe to the s tatus of a ' r e c e p t a c l e ' , or ' c u p ' , fo r 32 pleasure, without value i n itself. Regan's own consistent theme is that an exper iencing l i fe has i n h e r e n t va lue i n d e p e n d e n t l y of the 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 l ives are valuable because of the pleasure and satisfaction they afford, then there is 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 is unaffected by differences i n quality of l i f e . In sum, Singer i s p re sen t ing a u t i l i t a r i a n r e a d i n g of t h e r ights-view, rather than the r ights-view itself. Start ing With Regan's Own Assumptions An a l te rnat ive read ing of Regan can be had by t r e a t i n g t h i s ascription of inherent value, and a fundamental moral egalitarianism, as parts of an axiomatic f i rs t premise. Regan then has an argument against sacrificing Aunt Bea which naturally extends to many sentient 33 nonhumans: Human individuals a l l have equivalent inherent value. In order to respect this inherent value, we must hold the sacrifice of human life i l legi t imate 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 ce r t a in ly cannot be sacr i f iced i n o r d e r to maximise a g g r e g a t e d interest satisfaction. - Because a l l humans are so valued, the basis of their inherent value must be something which is common to humans whatever their 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 everything Regan seeks, and, i f we accept the ini t ia l premise, i t makes a powerful case. However, i f we reject the ini t ia l premise — and grounds for rejection have already been presented — then the argument collapses. Positing A Fundamental Attitude Surely there is more to Regan's position than an argument so easily dismissed? Why is he certain that experiencing l ives have the inherent value he attributes to them, and that inherent value entails the consequences he describes? Regan is a cogent philosopher, and i t i s unlikely that the r ights-view finally rests on a premise which is supported by his personal moral sense and a misunderstanding of received morality. Here is a suggestion about how we might read the r ights-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 stake. That i s why Regan describes what i t i s l ike to be an experiencing subject: he wants to remind us how precious life is to each of us. But there must be an in termediary step between 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 Regan's claim tha t ce r ta in t rea tment i s due to an e x p e r i e n c i n g subject. Description and feelings alone neither entail nor just i fy any 34 particular treatment. I suggest that the l ink i s a particular moral attitude. Like the art lover 's attitude to beauty, this moral attitude motivates and makes sense of certain behaviours when experiencing life i s encountered.^ 5 Describing The Fundamental Atti tude Supposing that Regan's position does involve a fundamental moral a t t i tude, how should i t be d e s c r i b e d ? If we focus on Regan ' s description of experiencing subjects as sentient, self-aware creatures with interests, i t may seem that the fundamental attitude involves only an acceptance that there are t h i n g s wh ich matter to an experiencing subject. But Regan wants to claim more. (Which is what ultimately distinguishes him from the utilitarians.) He asserts that there is something about an experiencing subject which secures her inherent value and largely rules out her sacrifice. What i s t h i s 'something'? I t i s he r c o n c e r n f o r h e r s e l f . (Or , perhaps, i n the case of sentient nonhumans, i t i s her tendency to consciously preserve and defend her l ife. Most mammals appear to lack self-regard.) Once, again, this i s why Regan describes what i t i s l ike to be an experiencing subject. He is reminding us that our personal welfare i s so important to each of us that, i n extremis, i t over-r ides almost a l l other considera t ions: we va lue o u r s e l v e s so h i g h l y t h a t s a c r i f i c i n g o u r l i v e s i s a l m o s t , b u t n o t e n t i r e l y , o u t of t h e question. As noted earlier, we would certainly not sacrifice ourselves i n o r d e r to maximise t h e a g g r e g a t e d , b u t i n d i v i d u a l l y s m a l l , Chapter Five 113 satisfactions of others. On this reading, then, Regan's fundamental moral attitude involves valuing an experiencing subject much as we humans value ourse lves , or , to be s t r i c t l y c o r r e c t , as we v a l u e ourselves when our self-esteem is high. Another way of viewing this suggestion is to focus on Regan's concern for impartiality. His claim about equivalent inherent value amounts to saying that there i s no legitimate basis for elevating one centre of consciousness and awareness over another . 3 6 And, i n order to help br ing us to an appreciation of this , he i s reminding us what i t i s l ike to be such a centre and how reluctant we are to rel inquish life. But Much Is S t i l l Left Unsaid If I am r i g h t , and the r i g h t s - v i e w i s bes t r ead as f i n a l l y grounding not jus t i n Regan's moral sense, nor i n his perception of received morality, but i n a fundamental attitude, then there is a way for Regan to cont inue his argument when i t s i n i t i a l p remise i s questioned. Regan can t r y to explain why the fundamental attitude should be part of our morality. However, I do not f ind Regan doing this . Perhaps he is confident that received morality does adequately support the r ights-view and that more need not be said; perhaps I have misunderstood Regan, and this fundamental attitude is no part of his position. What i s certain i s the r ights-view's presently inadequate foundation. MORALS AND CONCLUSIONS An Exercise To Learn From But despite the r ights-view's flaws, there is s t i l l much to learn from i t . Its errors are instruct ive, and i t has important implications Chapter Five 114 for any form of sent ient ism b road ly g r o u n d e d i n the u t i l i t a r i a n tradit ion. Let us begin with the flaws. Closing Our Moral Options The r i g h t - v i e w s entai ls that two s t r i c t l y r a n k e d va lue s t ake precedence over a l l other poss ible s o u r c e s of moral s i g n i f i c a n c e . F i r s t place goes to the inherent value of an experiencing subject (whose life may not be sacrificed except when a death i s already inevi table) and second place to the va lue of f u t u r e s a t i s f a c t i o n s (which may be used as a ' t ie-breaker ' when a death is inevitable). Although Regan is proud that this axiology outlaws animal husbandry, blood spor ts , and sc ient i f ic exper iments 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 l ive by hunting, and Regan is offering these people a choice between con t raven ing r a t i ona l mora l i ty and c o n s t a n t n e a r -s t a rva t ion . This 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 . In the sense of Goodpaster 's Dis t inc t ion 4 ( ' o p e r a t i v e ' v s . ' r e g u l a t i v e ' moral standing), Regan is proposing an account of moral scope which has no chance of being 'operative' for people who must k i l l higher mammals for food. In shor t , the r i g h t s - v i e w pe rmi t s no way of 38 just i fying a life based on meat eating. Non-therapeutic, lethal experimentation on experiencing subjects 39 is similarly legislated off the agenda. And i f Regan i s concerned about received morality, then he is surely f ly ing i n the face of that concern. Imagine having to decide whether to permit or ban a series of experiments l ikely to end a cr ippl ing and painful disease; I doubt there are many who would ban them. That suggests the r ights-view is too ex t r eme f o r r e c e i v e d m o r a l i t y . ( B y c o n t r a s t , a l l b r o a d l y Chapter Five 115 utilitarian sentientisms sanction non-therapeutic, lethal experiments when they are conducted as humanely as possible and will lessen notable suf fe r ing for other expe r i enc ing s u b j e c t s . ) I n t e r e s t i n g l y , another of Goodpaster 's d i s t i nc t i ons ho lds a s o l u t i o n to Regan ' s problem: Dis t inc t ion 2 descr ibes a sys tem of moral r a n k i n g wh ich 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. And Prohibi t ing Fur ther Expansion Regan's complete unwillingness to sanction the sacrifice of higher mammals (except when a death is inevitable) also contradicts common environmental practice. Park wardens, for example, routinely hunt and ' c u l l ' exper iencing subjects i n o r d e r to p r o t e c t o the r f auna and f lo ra . But Regan denies a l l hope of l e g i t i m a c y to t h e i r p r a c t i c e because he recognises no basis for the claim that humbler ' interests ' may take precedence over those of e x p e r i e n c i n g s u b j e c t s . T h i s i s d i s t u r b i n g no t o n l y as an o u t r i g h t r e j e c t i o n of an i m p o r t a n t environmental practice, but also as a blanket denial that philosophy might say anything cogent i n support. The rights-view rules out any poss ib i l i ty of a more ecological ly s e n s i t i v e ax io logy wh ich would g ran t s ignif icance to lowlier o rgan isms and e n t i t i e s . T h i s makes expansion beyond the mattering-gap nigh impossible. An Uncertain, But Limited Franchise Further worrying consequences loom when we ask precisely which creatures the r ights-view 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 v i e w 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, this i s too generous. Regan offers a secondary argument with which to secure moral protection for conscious nonmammals, such as b i rds and f ish , indicating that the r ights-view itself excludes them. (I discuss the argument below.) My sense is that Regan intends experiencing subjects to satisfy a cri ter ion somewhere between self-consciousness and consciousness. Which creatures and kinds of creatures does that place on either side the boundary? The answer is so far from being clear that I cannot envisage using this boundary i n practice. But wherever the line i s drawn, i f i t falls short of sentience, the 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 ights-view: Even assuming bi rds and f ish are not subjects-of-a-l i f e , to a l l ow t h e i r r e c r e a t i o n a l o r 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 ights of animals who are subjects-of-a-life. This i s cous in to the argument tha t c r u e l t y to animals i s wrong 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 the r c r e a t u r e s . G i v e n moral grounds for discrimination, and given, for example, that ducks were put on supermarket shelves where the steaks used to be, I am sure we could treat mammals as highly considerable entities and the rest as 'fair game'. When i t comes to lowlier forms of sentient l ife, Regan's account of moral scope is a poor substitute for the more generous and more consistent moral umbrella provided by the broadly uti l i tarian Chapter Five 117 sentientisms. Overexposed To Criticism The last of the r ights-view's major flaws is i ts slim response to p o t e n t i a l c r i t i c i s m . When m o r a l h u m a n i s m c l a i m s t h a t R e g a n misunderstands morality, the absence of reasons why al 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 is quickly duplicated. In response to hedonic and interest-based sentientism's demand for a securely-founded larger f ranchise , Regan also has l i t t l e to say b e y o n d h i s c r i t i c i s m s of util i tarian moral theory. Particularly i n l ight of soft sentientism's lack of direct reliance on utilitarian theory, they offer scant reason not to broaden the franchise. Possible vitalist and ecosophist cr i t ics are not Regan's concern ; however , i t i s f a i r to note t h a t — as discussed above — the r ights-view slams the door on further moral expansion without taking any account of the arguments advanced. A Useful Crit icism, But Not An Alternative Theory How should we f ina l ly judge Regan ' 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 i n t e r e s t 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 a t i s s u e a r e increased benefits not ameliorated harms. What i s more, his outright rejection of the possibility that experiencing l ives may be sacrificed when a death is not inevitable may have more to recommend i t than just moral grandeur. On the other hand, contemporary utilitarianism claims to largely answer Regan's worries by ascribing an interest i n l iv ing to al l experiencing subjects, and Singer does seem to share Regan's Chapter Five 118 deep avers ion to easy sacr i f ice and committment to i m p a r t i a l i t y . Perhaps Regan is t i l t ing at a windmill, and the positions are not so far apart . I t would ce r ta in ly be i n s t r u c t i v e to have the moral acceptability of aggregative, consequential calculations debated as a topic i n itself, with Regan's reasons for rejecting them spelled out further. For the res t , I u rge that Regan 's accoun t e n t a i l s too many problems to be cons idered an a l t e r n a t i v e to any of the b r o a d l y u t i l i t a r i an sentient isms. I t i s c e r t a i n l y no more compat ib le w i t h received morality; i t fails to protect many sentient nonhumans while ascribing too high a degree of moral standing to those that i t does protect; and i t has l i t t le to say to cr i t ics . Where Regan's view may h a v e an i m p o r t a n t r o l e to p l a y i s i n m o v i n g c o n t e m p o r a r y utilitarianism nearer to received moral th ink ing , and in helping to 42 delineate what an acceptable sentientism must involve. ' Intuit ion' One important moral remains to be drawn. Regan's moral touchstone i s ' intuit ion' i n the analytic philosopher's sense of a reflective but pre-theoretical judgement. Intuition is useful i n ethics as a guide to received morality. But there are r i sks i n appealing to i t i n argument, particularly i n building on intui t ively supported premises. For one t h i n g , i f eve ryday morality becomes ou r f i n a l a r b i t e r , o t h e r w i s e 43 questionable judgements and practices tend to pass unnoticed. For another th ing , there is always the r i sk of re ly ing more on personal, poss ib ly i d io sync ra t i c , moral no t ions , t h a n on p u b l i c l y a c c e s s i b l e ones. Regan's r ights-view comes close to both these sirens. Despite carefu l argument, and his own e x p l i c i t l y s t a t ed awareness of the Chapter Five 119 danger inherent i n appeal ing to i n t u i t i o n , the r i g h t s - v i e w s t i l l rests on a largely unexplained f i rs t premise and is tailored to fit 45 Regan's deep compassion: The whole creation groans under the weight of the ev i l we humans vis i t upon these mute, powerless creatures. It i s our heart, not jus t our head, that ca l l s for an end , that demands 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 is what this enquiry seeks. Chapter Five 120 PART THREE: THE MOVEMENT FROM ECOLOGY Chapter Six LOOKING BEYOND AFFECT So far, the sentientist arguments we have been discussing have t r i e d to show t h a t s e n t i e n c e , o r , i n R e g a n ' s c a s e , b e i n g an exper iencing subject , i s su f f i c i en t 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 fu r the r expansion. The former p o s s i b i l i t y — t h a t t h e r e are grounds for further expansion — i s presented by what I cal l 'the movement from ecology'. The latter possibility — that sentientism can re jec t the movement i n advance — i s r a i s e d by some s e n t i e n t i s t philosophers, and i t needs to be dealt with before we consider the positive case. Is sentience a clearly necessary condition for moral s tanding? If not, are there , pe rhaps , o the r a p r i o r i g r o u n d s fo r resist ing further expansion? These are the questions which the present chapter addresses. THE MATTERING GAP Forewarned Is Prepared In d i scuss ing these issues — and p a r t i c u l a r l y i n t r y i n g to understand sentientism's haste to block further moral expansion — we must be aware of exactly what i s proposed by the movement from ecology. Whereas sentientism i n a l l i t s forms i s p r e d i c a t e d on a concern for experiencing l ives, benefits and harms, and consis tency, 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 iv ing Chapter Six 121 i n d i v i d u a l s , i n c l u d i n g non-sen t i en t o rgan i sms ; ecosoph ism t h e n embraces na tu ra l systems more u s u a l l y t r e a t e d as c o l l e c t i o n s of d i s t inc t , l i v i n g i n d i v i d u a l s , and some e c o s o p h i s t s e v e n want to enfranchise non-l iving things.) A Source Of Puzzlement And Potential Misunderstanding To the sent ient is t , the most s t r i k i n g , and 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 origins owe much to the humanist tradit ion. But both have difficulty understanding how anything can possibly matter morally, on i t s own account, when i t has no experiences, and, thus, nothing at a l l can possibly matter to i t . In consequence, humanists and sentientists tend to regard 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 such a profound and controversial separation, so, too, does the quest ion whether en t i t i e s to wh ich n o t h i n g mat ters - -entities lacking the abili ty to experience what happens to them and, hence, sentience — can possibly be original sources of moral concern. Chapter Six 122 Two New Spokesmen Two representa t ions of the s en t i en t i s t case w i l l be d i s c u s s e d , here, alongside the beginnings of the movement from expansion. Both sent ient i s t posi t ions are i n t e r e s t - b a s e d , a n d because S i n g e r has li t t le to say about the issue of further expansion, I have turned, ins tead , to Joel Fe inberg and L . W. Sumner . Note t h a t a l t h o u g h Feinberg and Sumner use the language of ' r ights ' , they ground r ights i n the possession of in te res t s , and t hey c l e a r l y use ' r i g h t s ' i n Goodpaster's broadest sense: r ights-bearing is equated with being 3 morally considerable. FEINBERG'S ARGUMENT A Five-Step Summary Feinberg's reasons for requir ing that considerable entities be sent ient emerge d u r i n g an argument wh ich may be summar i sed as 4 follows: - In order for an entity to have a r ight , two conditions must be met. F i r s t , the ent i ty must e i ther be capab le of c l a i m i n g i t s r i g h t for i t se l f , or i t must be the sor t of e n t i t y fo r 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 ts own."** - It i s reasonable to grant an entity a proxy only i f the entity has interests for the proxy to represent. This i s because "representation, 7 i n the requisite sense, is always of interests". Furthermore, i t i s reasonable to credit an entity with a 'good' or 'sake' of i ts own only i f i t has in te res t s . This i s because "a be ing wi thou t i n t e r e s t s . . . i s o i n c a p a b l e of b e i n g h a r m e d o r b e n e f i t t e d . . . " . T h u s , b o t h t h e c o n d i t i o n s s t a t e d i n s t e p one c o l l a p s e i n t o t h e p o s s e s s i o n of Chapter Six 123 interests. 9 - "Interests must be compounded somehow out of c o n a t i o n s . . . " . Tentatively, Feinberg proposes that conations consist of any of the fo l lowing: " . . .conscious wishes, d e s i r e s and hopes ; . . . u rges and impulses; latent tendencies, d i r e c t i o n s of g r o w t h and n a t u r a l ful f i l lments ." 1 0 - Many sentient nonhumans have conations and are capable of being beneficiar ies; therefore, these nonhumans have i n t e r e s t s and are potential r i gh t s -bea re r s . 1 1 The status of plants i s unclear at this stage. Plants lack conscious wishes, desires and hopes, but they do have "b io log ica l p ropens i t i es" wh ich appear to s a t i s f y F e i n b e r g ' s 12 working definition of 'conation'. - F e i n b e r g t h e n f u r t h e r r e s t r i c t s t h e c r i t e r i a f o r a s c r i b i n g i n t e r e s t s : 1 3 ...an in te res t , however the concep t i s f i n a l l y to be analyzed, presupposes at l ea s t r u d i m e n t a r y cognitive equipment. Interests are compounded out of des i res and aims, both of wh ich p r e s u p p o s e something l ike belief, or cognitive awareness. Thus, Feinberg finally aligns his understanding of 'conation' with the more restr ict ive sense offered by current usage. The 0. E. D. tells us that 'conation' i s a philosopher's word meaning the desire to perform an act ion, or a vo l i t i on , or a v o l u n t a r y a c t i o n . F e i n b e r g a lso 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 no t t h e s o r t s of beings who have their '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 ights . And because r ights-bear ing i s Chapter Six 124 equated with being morally considerable, we may conclude that non-15 sentient organisms, i n general, lack moral standing. The Interest Principle Cent ra l to t h i s argument i s what F e i n b e r g c a l l s t he " in t e re s t principle': 1** Feinberg's INTEREST PRINCIPLE states: "...the sorts of beings who can have r ights are precisely those who have (or can have) interests." Feinberg goes on to say: I have come to this tentative conclusion for two reasons: (1) because a r ight 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 to represent a being that has no interests, and (2) because a r igh t holder must be capable of being a beneficiary i n his own person, and a being without in te res t s i s a being tha 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 i ts own. Two reasons are being offered, he re , i n s u p p o r t of the i n t e r e s t principle. They are spelled out more fully i n the five-step summary by the two sufficient conditions attached to r ights bearing (at step one) plus the subsequent necessary conditions (introduced at step two). The in te res t p r inc ip l e i s , therefore , s e c u r e d at the second s tep of Fe inberg ' s argument; the res t may be v i ewed as w o r k i n g out the in te res t p r i n c i p l e ' s consequences fo r s e n t i e n t and n o n s e n t i e n t 17 organisms. The Interest Principle Plus We should, certainly, grant Feinberg steps one and two of the f ive -s tep argument, and the i n t e r e s t s p r i n c i p l e , because i t i s so reasonable to correlate r ights with interests. But how persuasive is the res t of the argument? Step t h r e e compounds i n t e r e s t s ou t of conations i n the broad sense that includes "directions of growth and Chapter Six 125 natural fulfillments"; thus, agreeing with the generous, but common sense view, tha t a l l l i v i n g t h i n g s do have i n t e r e s t s . B u t t h i s threatens to extend interests and, hence, r ights to those nonliving th ings which also have clear d i r e c t i o n s of g r o w t h (for example, stalactites), and that would be contrary to everyday th ink ing and usage. Feinberg avoids the problem, at step five, by t ightening 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 quest ionable. Why i s the s tatus of p l a n t s u n c l e a r ? P r i o r to him nar rowing the def in i t ion of cona t ion , i t seems more r easonab le 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 n o t i o n of i n t e r e s t s a t s t e p f i v e . T h u s , h i s p r e s e n t a t i o n i s developmental, and the f i rs t definition of •conation' should be read as a working definition only. The modifications offered at step five are Fe inberg ' s more cons idered p o s i t i o n , and the f u l l f i v e - s t e p argument — Feinberg's interest-pr inciple-plus — i s designed to show why in te res t s are l imited to en t i t i e s w i th enough p s y c h o l o g i c a l complexity to support, or at least approximate, desire and cognitive awareness. Overshoot But this i s now so s t r ic t that, as well as ru l ing out any hope of an argument for vitalism, the interests-principle 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 ascribing interests, writing of newborns: Chapter Six 126 They do have a capacity, no doubt from the very beg inn ing , to feel pa in , and t h i s alone may be sufficient ground for ascribing both an interest and a r igh t to them. Feinberg i s returning to classical utilitarianism's unadorned concern for su f fe r ing because he fears t h a t newborns may be mora l ly d isenfranchised by the cogni t ive c r i t e r i o n fo r h a v i n g i n t e r e s t s . However, i t is seemingly inconsistent to hold that a newborn's bare capacity for suffering secures an interest and a r ight , while s t i l l requir ing that interests, at a minimum, be grounded i n rudimentary desire and cognitive awareness. A Psychological Cri terion Fe inberg does not exp l i c i t ly speak to 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 rec t ions of growth and na tu ra l f u l f i l l m e n t s " , t h e n babies have conations while plants do not. In consequence, babies 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 mora l expansion beyond sentientism, i t must be clearly shown why morality should be concerned solely with psychologically based interests. An Axiomatic Restriction Of Moral Concern Feinberg says li t t le beyond what has been discussed, but such additional reasons as he does offer centre on 'benefits' and 'goods'. This i s , no doubt, because where there is no possibility of benefit, or any good held, there is arguably no interest. Feinberg has already pointed out that considerable entities must Chapter Six 127 be capable of being beneficiaries i n their own r ight , and he wants to 21 claim — wrongly, I think — that this 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 ts own, but that does not mean a non-sentient organism cannot be benefi t ted. A d r y plant , fo r example, 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 in te res t s which moral i ty i s s e e k i n g to p r o t e c t . The environmental movement and ecological philosophy notwithstanding, Feinberg is largely r ight 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 ini t ia l question was to find out whether received morality i s r ight . Therefore, current practice cannot be our chief guide to an answer. Final ly, 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 they confer on human be ings . T h i s l a s t c la im i s fa l se insofar as non-sent ient organisms are t e l e o l o q i c a l and do have a (teleological) good of t he i r own, b u t i s t h i s a mora l ly 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 te l l ing. But why is Feinberg so confident of this? We have already seen that his view of conations r equ i res us to c r e d i t Fe inberg wi th 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 , f inal ly, 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 they do. have 'a good of t he i r own ' , t h e i r l a ck 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 is amongst those who think 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 m o r a l i t y i n a i d . B u t t h e q u e s t i o n r e m a i n s : I s i t r i g h t to disenfranchise organisms just because they cannot experience 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. Sumner 's goal i s to es tab l i sh a v i a media between the s o - c a l l e d l iberal and conservative positions on abortion, but his approach i s also intended to rebuff a vitalist attempt to bridge the mattering-gap using the notion of ' interests ' . Sumner has Goodpaster's formative paper on vitalism i n his rear-view mirror, which may be why he brings 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 this enquiry 's mandate to enquire into the abortion issue per se, or to attempt a broad crit icism 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 on a b o r t i o n by secu r ing an account of moral scope wh ich l i n k s the mora 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 this because (once a certain level of phys io log ica l development i s reached) a f e tus g rows 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 f e t u s g r o w s , so , t o o , does t h e case a g a i n s t 24 abortion. His argument will be strongest i f he can rule out the poss ib i l i ty tha t factors other than sen t i ence af fec t moral s t a tus , which is one reason Sumner i s determined to restr ict moral concern to psychologically based interests and experiencable benefits and harms. To this end, Sumner argues for an account of moral scope which makes sentience necessary and s u f f i c i e n t fo r moral 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 -- i n t r i n s i c value, l i f e , sent ience, and r a t i o n a l i t y — he chooses 25 sentience); then asks how widely that quality i s shared. Granting Sumner's choice of a moral paradigm for now, and reserving judgement on his i n i t i a l l i s t of qual i t ies , l e t us r ev i ew the s t eps by which Sumner selects sentience. Intr insic Value, Life , And Rationality 26 Sumner rejects in t r ins ic value because: . . . i f t h ings have moral s t a n d i n g i n v i r t u e of having int r ins ic value, and i f they have in t r ins ic Chapter Six 130 value i n vi r tue of having some natural property, then i t i s that natural property which i s serving as the real cr i ter ion 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 this i s too hasty. Although Sumner i s surely correct i n claiming that in t r ins ic value attributions can always be questioned — and that the reasons offered wi l l then form the f i n a l c r i t e r i o n of moral standing — i t i s unclear that al l in t r ins ic value attributions rest on some s ingle na tu ra l p r o p e r t y . F o r one t h i n g , t he no t i on of ' in t r insic 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 th ing , i t i s possible that some entities are properly ascribed in t r ins ic value -- and moral standing — for reasons which have as much to do with our 27 relationship to them as with their 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 i n t h e c o u r s e of S u m n e r ' s cri t icism of Goodpaster, and I shall discuss that debate later i n the chapter. For now, I will mark the dismissal 'tentative'. The cr i ter ion 'rationality' i s rejected for the sound, and standard, reason that i t excludes the very young, the senile, the intellectually limited, and 28 sentient "ribrihumans. Sentience Only the c r i t e r i o n of sentience r ema ins . Sumner c a l l s i t a "promis ing middle pa th" between t h e unaccep tab l e ext remes of 29 "rationality" and " l i fe" . On Sumner's reading, i t i s also a broad path: he argues that sentience is a continuum ranging from a bare capaci ty for suf fe r ing — which r e q u i r e s awareness b u t no t s e l f -awareness — to the transports and angst of those who are only too Chapter Six 131 self-aware. Thus, 'entry level ' sentience requires only "the abili ty to experience sensations of p leasure and p a i n " , whi le ' h i g h l e v e l ' sentience requires the psychological complexity of humans. Anywhere within th is continuum, Sumner ascribes moral significance to benefits and harms. He discerns broadly two kinds of significant benefit or harm, corresponding to the division between 'entry ' and 'h igh level ' sentience. There are benefits and harms accruing 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 on of moral s t and ing , as Sumner c o n t e n d s , t h e n a l l ent i t ies capable of experiencable bene f i t s and harms are mora l ly c o n s i d e r a b l e , a n d a l l e n t i t i e s w h i c h l a c k t h a t c a p a c i t y a r e inconsiderable. In consequence, sentientism's account of moral scope must enfranchise al l sentient life while stopping irrevocably at the mattering g a p . 3 1 An Insufficient Case So Far This account arguably accords well with current , l iberal moral t h i n k i n g , and i t ce r t a in ly offers a t h e o r e t i c a l bas i s fo r S u m n e r ' s abortion via media, but the case for restr ict ing 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 cr i ter ion ' l i fe ' , Sumner has dismissed the poss ib i l i ty of axiological g r o u n d s fo r moral e x p a n s i o n too q u i c k l y . Axiologica l arguments a re o f fe red by the movement from 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 start l ing assumption that al l moral standing must finally ground i n life, rationality, or sentience, and cannot possibly devolve upon a more subtle complex of reasons such as I mentioned earlier. No explanation is offered for this , which leaves Sumner's case incomplete. However, he does have a d d i t i o n a l o b j e c t i o n s to r a i s e ; t h e y r e q u i r e us to c o n s i d e r 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 their lack of psychological capacity (at least some) non-sent ient ent i t ies can be mean ingfu l ly a f fec ted by human action, and that this 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 this . One is to seek common ground with sentientism, and use i t as a basis for bridge b u i l d i n g ; the other i s to assume t h a t an i n s u f f i c i e n c y of common ground exis ts , and argue, i n s t ead , fo r a r a d i c a l change i n moral outlook. Goodpaster chooses the f i rs t option, appealing to a shared notion of ' in te res t s ' , then t r y i n g to use an i m p a r t i a l c o n c e r n f o r a l l interests, sentient and non-sentient, to continue the momentum for expansion which has c a r r i e d sen t i en t i sm to the ma t t e r ing gap . By contrast, other vitalists (and ecosophists) lean towards the second Chapter Six 133 opt ion. Whereas sent ient is t s p roc l a im i t a s t r e n g t h t h a t t h e i r posi t ion grows outward from humanism by modest i n c r e m e n t s , the movement from ecology — with the exception of Goodpaster's vitalism — generally describes a radically different, informing outlook for morality. That outlook involves a more egalitarian, and less human c e n t e r e d , v i e w of t h e e n t i r e b i o t i c c o m m u n i t y t h a n has b e e n traditional, and the change i t involves may be likened to the shift 32 from a Ptolemaic to a Keplerian model of the solar system. Thus, Goodpaster's vitalism is distinct from other vi tal is t (and ecosophist) approaches. However, i t i s Goodpaster's pioneering attempt to bui ld a rapprochement with sentientism which gives point to the subsequent change of course, and Sumner's rejection of that attempt i l luminates the sent ient i s t assumpt ions wh ich 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 their moral standing. He writes: T h e r e i s no a b s u r d i t y i n i m a g i n i n g t h e representation of the needs of a tree for sun and water i n the face of a proposal to cut i t down or pave i t s immediate radius for a parking lot. ...In the face of their obvious tendencies to maintain and heal themselves, i t i s very 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 kinds of interests, and i f i t can be shown that similar interests ground the moral standing of s e n t i e n t c r e a t u r e s , t h e n G o o d p a s t e r i s r i g h t : t h e s e n t i e n t i s t programme of t r ea t ing similar i n t e r e s t s i n a c o n s i s t e n t l y s imi l a r Chapter Six 134 manner should ensure the moral standing of non-sentient organisms. Sumner's Response But sentientism has a response. Sumner carefully formulates i t s mandate i n a way which denies moral r e l e v a n c e to n o n - s e n t i e n t interests, and he makes sentientism's position so abundantly clear 34 that I will quote him i n fu l l : G o o d p a s t e r does no t s h r i n k f r o m 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 . T h e r e i s much s u p p o r t f o r t h i s assumption i n the d i c t i ona ry d e f i n i t i o n s of bo th "interest" and "welfare" though talk of protecting the interests or welfare of plants seems contrived and strained. But philosophers and economists have evolved t echn ica l de f in i t ions of " i n t e r e s t " and "welfare" tha t c lea r ly t i e t hese no t ions to the psychological states of sentient beings. It i s the existence of beings with i n t e r e s t s o r welfare i n t h i s sense tha t i s a necessa ry c o n d i t i o n of the existence of moral issues. Thus , Sumner leaves no doubt tha t , i n h i s view as a s e n t i e n t i s t , morality's proper concern i s only those benefits and harms, and hence those in te res t s , which are l i n k e d "to the p s y c h o l o g i c a l s ta tes of sentient beings." Why should this be so? Sentientism's Focus On Affect If moral expansion is 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 loses re levance. The paradigm human a d u l t appea led to by s e n t i e n t i s m arguably loses relevance once moral expansion reaches organisms which lack a psychology and, therefore, lack al l possibility of experience, or , perhaps more p rec i se ly , 'affect ' i n the p s y c h o l o g i c a l sense of 35 "feeling, emotion, desire, especially as leading to action". This i s Chapter Six 135 because organisms possessed of affect are l ike the paradigm human i n that they have l ives 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 is something i t i s l ike to be a cat, but there i s nothing i t i s l i ke to be a t r e e (to the bes t of o u r 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 the paradigm i n that i t experiences nothing, and i t has no quality of life. In addi t ion , i t may be noted tha t s e n t i e n t i s m ' s c o n c e r n fo r benefits and harms which are experienced gives i t a powerful intui t ive appeal , p lus motivational force, because i t i s r e l a t i v e l y easy f o r humans to empathise with nonhuman s u f f e r i n g and p l e a s u r e . A n y successful argument for moral expansion must persuade moral agents to accept greater r e spons ib i l i t y and s a c r i f i c e , and i f s e n t i e n t i s m ' 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 cal l for expansion once i t can no longer rely on empathy's support. Unlike the interests of sentient creatures, the interests of m e r e l y l i v i n g o r g a n i s m s o f f e r s e e m i n g l y l i t t l e b a s i s f o r identification and human concern. None of t h i s conc lus ive ly proves t h a t mora l i ty 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 burden of proof on v i t a l i s t s c l a i m i n g o t h e r w i s e . Vi ta l i sm's case cannot be made s i m p l y by p o i n t i n g ou t t h a t n o n -sentient organisms have 'interests ' too: such 'affect-free interests ' Chapter Six 136 are clearly different, and i f vitalism wants to claim morality should transcend the difference, then more argument is needed. A Limited, But Defensible, Axiology In fairness to Goodpaster, he does, i n a limited way, speak to th i s need also. He notes that s en t i en t i sm ' s c o n c e r n fo r a f fec t i s informed by an essentially hedonic axiology: sentientism is the heir to Bentham's original , compassionate insight and to the hedonistic 37 conception of the good which i n s p i r e d Bentham. F u r t h e r m o r e , 38 Goodpaster questions the reasonableness of this: 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 adapt ive charac te r i s t i c of l i v i n g o rgan i sms t h a t p r o v i d e s t h e m w i t h a b e t t e r c a p a c i t y t o . . . a v o i d . . . t h r e a t s to l i f e . T h i s . . . s u g g e s t s , though of course i t does not p r o v e , t h a t t he capacities to suffer and to enjoy are ancillary to something more important rather than t ickets to [moral standing] i n their own r ight . The "something more important" i s , of course, l ife, and Goodpaster i s now moving towards a position taken up by later vital ists: morality should value a l l self-replicating, evolutionarily shaped, teleological individuals , whether or not they have the adaptive characteristic of affect. However, i f Goodpaster took t h i s s t ep , h i s p o s i t i o n r e l a t i v e to 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 be ing , and extended up to the ma t t e r ing gap on the b a s i s of consistency and analogical reasoning — this new concern for life i s simply no par t of i t s mandate. A n d because Goodpas te 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 Wi th h i n d s i g h t , I t h i n k i t f a i r to s a y t h a t G o o d p a s t e r underestimates the distance between s e n t i e n t i s m and v i t a l i s m . Sentientism i s not suscept ib le to a r app rochemen t , and ( j u s t as sentientism's own non-traditional focus on sentient interests per se stands i n need further of justification) so vitalism must shoulder the need to offer original , and independent, reasons for ascribing moral s igni f icance to affect-free i n t e r e s t s . T h i s w i l l r e q u i r e s h o w i n g grounds for a radical change of moral outlook and a l i teral paradigm shift; thus, taking the more radical of the two options I discussed earlier. But i t i s also t rue that sentientists l ike Feinberg and Sumner have underestimated the i r t a sk . N o t h i n g s a i d so fa r shows tha t sentience is necessary for moral standing, and i t seems unlikely that ever will be shown. What i s more, the objections raised against moral e x p a n s i o n o n l y r e v e a l a b u r d e n of p r o o f no t d i s s i m i l a r to 39 sentientism's own. However, Sumner s t i l l has some points to make, and I shall end this 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? S u m n e r a r g u e s t h a t i f m o r a l c o n c e r n i s no t r e s t r i c t e d to psychologically based interests and the experiencable benefits and harms which support them, there will be no obvious end to considerable 40 entities. For example, I can benefit my computer by taking 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 th inks that we do not want that conclusion, and he may be r ight , 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 ight i n th inking that the cr i ter ion ' E is considerable precisely when E is capable of benefits and harms' would be too generous, that only shows the cri ter ion may be a bad one, not that we should abandon al l hope of further moral expansion. Other p o s s i b l e c r i t e r i a - - l i k e b e i n g a s e l f - r e p l i c a t i n g , t e l e o l o g i c a l en t i ty which i s par t of the b io t ic communi ty - - of fer hope of expansion without running amok. Sumner's argument i s l ike claiming that we cannot begin dr iv ing down the road without finally crashing into the bogey man who l ives 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 rus 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 ight to point out that moral expansion complicates morality, and any potential account of moral scope certainly needs to indicate how conf l ic t wi l l be dealt wi th . But , once a g a i n , t ha t i s no r e a s o n to resist moral expansion i f adequate arguments are offered. Another aspect of th is concern about decision making i s the worry that i f everything 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 can be no unders tand ing of day. 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 e n t i t i e s r e a c h i n g f r o m t h e v e r y c o n s i d e r a b l e to t h e a lmos t inconsiderable, then there should be sufficient contrast to make being ' c o n s i d e r a b l e ' m e a n i n g f u l . F u r t h e r m o r e , t h e r e i s , as y e t , no suggestion that everything i n the world should be deemed considerable except by sentientists seeking a reductio of the vitalist position. The Increasing Burden In conversation, I have heard a further worry expressed regarding a poss ib ly increased moral f r a n c h i s e . I f mora l i ty 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 larger the moral franchise, the more oppressive the moral burden. Morality i s seen as restr ict ive, so one wants no more of i t than is absolutely necessary. However, there is another view, the tradit ion which claims that ethics provides a rec ipe for a p a r t i c u l a r way of l i f e : mora l i ty i s t h e n o m n i p r e s e n t , b u t h o p e f u l l y e n a b l i n g r a t h e r t h a n r e s t r i c t i n g . Philosophers who espouse a broad moral franchise, part icularly the deep ecologists, tend towards this understanding of morality as ethos. Chapter Six 140 Perhaps doing so does not answer al 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 burden, and even i f that i s more onerous, this 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 we should do. The practical implicat ions of extension must t h e n be w o r k e d ou t i n l i g h t of competing claims and interests. Another of Goodpaster's distinctions i s relevant to this problem. Dis t inc t ion 4 dif ferent ia ted r e g u l a t i v e moral s t a tu s ( i . e . as seen purely i n l ight of ' theory') from operative moral status (i.e. as seen i n l ight of 'what we can l ive with'). Although this enquiry must pay some at tent ion to operat ive conce rns , i t i s s e e k i n g t h a t p r i m a r i l y regula t ive account of moral scope wh ich makes bes t moral sense . Concern for our own moral burden i s an operative worry which amounts to us not wanting to expand our moral regard for entities to the point that i t becomes difficult to l ive with. And, for the purposes of this enquiry, i t i s a concern to set aside while we ask which entities are considerable on their own merits, or as nearly on their 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 util i tarian (i.e. optimal interest satisfaction) calculations unwieldy at best and impossible at worst. This i s not jus t i n consequence of the multiplication of considerable ent i t ies , but also because of the d i f f e r i n g bases of t h e i r moral Chapter Six 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. And util i tarian theory offers no hope of comparing al l three. This real isa t ion may under l ie much of t he o p p o s i t i o n to moral expansion which has been expressed by u t i l i t a r i a n s e n t i e n t i s t s . However, i t i s no reason for those of a more theoretically neutral disposition to resist . What i s more, there is a good case for th inking that util i tarian calculations are already impossible by the time the mattering gap is reached: How should I actually weigh al l the sentient interests involved i n a simple action l ike buying a steak or cutt ing down the old cherry 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 igur ing out how to maximise them. (And rule-ut i l i tar ian solutions will just be flights of optimism i f we cannot ever i den t i f y and weigh a l l t he p e r t i n e n t interests.) Given the problems already — and given that much of the u t i l i t a r i an case against c r u e l t y comes down to s imp le , v i s c e r a l d i sgus t and compassion, suppor t ed by r a t i o n a l c o n s i s t e n c y and morality's concern for humans — the loss i s arguably minor. Chapter Six 142 Chapter Seven VITALISM: A DIFFERENT KIND OF STRATEGY Just as humanism is barely part of the movement from interest, but i s i ts clear point of departure, so Goodpaster provides a point of departure for the movement from ecology. Sumner's rebuff writes finis to the impar t ia l concern for s imi lar i n t e r e s t s , and the a n a l o g i c a l 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 after Goodpaster's rapprochement fails, rather than at the mattering gap itself, that the task of reshaping morality begins. And, for the time be ing , no fu r the r attempt i s made to e s t a b l i s h commonal i ty wi th 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 rrat ionali ty. 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 has something to say about that. Vitalism and ecosophism largely make the i r case by se t t ing out the r e l a t i v e a t t r a c t i o n s of a new, and ecologically sensible, posi t ion. 1 The most 'conservative' of these new accounts of moral scope are proposed dur ing the early stages of Holmes Rolston I l l ' s exploratory development of a possible ethic fo r ' w i l d n a t u r e ' , and i n P a u l W. Tay lo r ' s proposed foundation for an e n v i r o n m e n t a l e t h i c . Bo th Chapter Seven 143 phi losophers present v i ta l i sm as a r easonab le next s tep f o l l o w i n g sentientism without t r y i n g to ex tend or. r ep l ace s e n t i e n t i s m ' s compassionate concern for experienced benefits and harms; rather, they t r y to extend our outlook and b roaden the scope of ou r moral sympathies. The latter point echoes what was said above, and i t i s important to remember. Neither Rolston nor Taylor attempt to make a f i n a l l y c o n c l u s i v e c a s e f o r v i t a l i s m b y s h o w i n g t h a t t h e i r recommendations are ' l og i ca l ly ' o r ' r a t i o n a l l y ' i n c u m b e n t on moral 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 l ieu of affect, and both argue that a l l l i v ing organisms are of inherent value), I am going to t r a v e l r e la t ive ly q u i c k l y 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 c r u c i a l l y important c la im t h a t the i n h e r e n t va lue of organisms is 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 the claim t h a t a l l l i v i n g o rgan i sms - -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. Init ial ly, t h i s may seem a p u z z l i n g c l a i m , b u t i t i s r e a l l y q u i t e straightforward. Rolston notes that a l l organisms come with a DNA Chapter Seven 144 encoded 'programme' specifying how they will grow and develop under cer ta in condi t ions . The unfo ld ing of t h i s programme i s h e l p e d by favourable environmental features and hindered by unfavourable ones. Thus, with regard to any particular organism, some environmental features have a positive 'value' , and some have a negative 'value' , according to how they affect the organism. In this -sense, Rolston claims, l i v i n g organisms are ax io log i ca l , and the va lue s w h i c h a r e g e n e r a t e d b y t h e i r t e l e o l o g i c a l o r g a n i s a t i o n a n d a c t i v i t y a r e independent of human perceptions and judgements. Rolston 's point may be i l l u s t r a t e d u s i n g one of h i s f a v o u r i t e 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 is claiming that: Environmental features, including the actions of other organisms, 3 can either help or hinder the tree as i ts 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 t r e e ' s n a t u r a l , t e l e o l o g i c a l f u n c t i o n i n g , t h e r e f o r e , e s t a b l i s h e s a s e t of v a l u e s r e l a t i v e to i t s t e l o s w i t h i n i t s environment. - Moral agents may take account of t hese va lue s t h r o u g h t h e i r 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 wrong. Teleological 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 ts genetic agenda. A n U ncontro vers ial Start So far, Rolston has said nothing untoward, or even controversial . He i s claiming that environmental features can be assigned a value depending on how they con t r ibu te to the g e n e t i c a l l y g o v e r n e d 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 this way, the eccentricity i s harmless because we can accept Rolston's usage without committing ourselves to anything 5 o b j e c t i o n a b l e . F u r t h e r m o r e , i f i t i s t h o u g h t t e n d e n t i o u s , o r 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 conscious ly held goals or p u r p o s e s , j u s t t h a t t he t r e e has te leological goals for moral agents to t ake accoun t of. I s h a l l , i n any case, say more about this 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 is reason why moral agents should take account of what i s of value to other organisms when planning their actions. (And, thus, why al l l iv ing 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 have the i r own ' i n t r i n s i c ' or ' i nhe ren t ' v a l u e . A n d i t i s t h i s l a t t e r claim, rather than the assertion that the teleological organisation of Chapter Seven 146 an organism generates values relative to that organism, which is the apparent ground of Rolston's vitalism. He i s not just saying that an organism has goods consequent on i ts genetic programme; he i s saying that the realisation of what i s good for an organism is , in the nature of things, inherently good. In other words, other things being equal, i t i s good that an organism should thr ive . Rolston also asser ts that the i n h e r e n t va lue and goodness of organisms i s ' i n the world' , waiting to be discovered, much l ike the ins t rumenta l values which the needs of o rgan i sms genera te . He exp l i c i t ly re jects a re la t ional accoun t of va lue (whereby va lue i s something moral agents ascribe to entities for reasons which can be argued 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 events have a ' va lue ' r e l a t i v e to the g e n e t i c a l l y 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 bel ieves that i n h e r e n t va lue i s d i s c o v e r e d i n nature, he mainly attempts to do the job through evocative wri t ing. 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 iv ing organisms; instead, his 'argument' consists of inv i t ing us to share his perceptions. However, i f Rolston wishes to pe r suade o t h e r s to a b j u r e the re la t ional account of value and fol low h i s l e a d , t h e n i t would 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 thing i f i t was anything other than a relation between a valuer and something which is valued. But Rolston offers no obvious reason to think the relational view incorrect . He simply re jects i t , and offers an a l t e r n a t i v e . 1 ^ T h i s means t h a t Rolston's own highly personal views of value and nature are the final ground of his position. And, although I (personally) f ind Rolston's advocacy deeply moving, there seems l i t t l e po in t i n a t t empt ing to discuss or replicate i t here. Not only does i ts persuasive power lie i n Rolston's own words, the presupposition that values are found, ra ther than a sc r ibed , wi l l be v iewed as h i g h l y c o n t r o v e r s i a l by contemporary philosophers and moral theorists. Given that this 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, this enquiry must commit itself to seeking clear, firm reasons for ascribing 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 is eminently reasonable. But, for the reasons given, I am not going to attempt to follow that strategy further. Second Str ings 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 what many will view as a profoundly unpersuasive argument for vitalism. However, my reading i s that Rolston also offers more l i tera l , direct Chapter Seven 148 arguments as a supplement to evocation. Even i f Rolston th inks that values are discovered rather than ascribed, his discussion is relevant to a movement from interest predicated on a different view of value. In a chapter summarising his ax io logy , Ro l s ton d e s c r i b e s a "parental environment" within which organisms have evolved and now l i v e . 1 1 He argues (in effect) that i f , as moral agents, we wish to make value attributions within nature which are disinterested, non-partisan, and 'rational ' , then we should not rely on our own ways of re la t ing to organisms as a guide to t h e i r v a l u e . I n s t ead , va lue attributions should be based on what i s known about l iv ing 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 consistent appraisal of other entities, they must take their cues from nature, rather than from their own needs and preferences. Rolston also explains that aU l iv ing 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 energy and time. Rolston argues t h a t t he p a r e n t a l e n v i r o n m e n t 'values' these projects inherently i n that i t appears to produce them simply for their own sakes. He urges that moral agents who wish to value organisms i n accordance with what they f ind i n nature must do likewise and ascribe inherent value to a l l l iv ing organisms. And Two Problems Two problems now await Rolston. F i rs t , even i f he can convince us to view l i v i n g organisms as ' n a t u r a l p r o j e c t s w h i c h are v a l u e d inhe ren t ly by the parenta l env i ronment ' , i t i s s t i l l n e c e s s a r y to convince us that moral agents should guide their conduct by this Chapter Seven 149 v i s i o n . I t i s i n s u f f i c i e n t to c h a r a c t e r i s e t h e v i s i o n as disinterested or even rational. A sceptic remains free to object that such radical disinterest has no place i n human morality, and that standards of rationality are ultimately l inked to notions of what i s good for humans (and, t h r o u g h the 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 value 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 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 , l ike the sceptic, moral agents generally are unmoved by this attraction? Rolston needs to explain why acting on his view of nature i s incumbent on moral agents i n d e p e n d e n t l y of p e r s o n a l inclination. To the best of my understanding, Rolston does not do that. The second problem attends Rols ton ' s c la im t h a t t he p a r e n t a l environment 'va lues ' na tu ra l p r o j e c t s 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 in energy and time, i t does not follow that the system which produces them, therefore, values them. A l l terres t r ia l creatures convert oxygen to carbon dioxide at a cost i n energy and time; does i t fol low t h a t t h e y va lue c a r b o n dioxide? In claiming that the 'parental environment' values organisms, Rolston pushes metaphor too far and threatens to anthropomorphise nature. Nature (or the 'parental environment') produces organisms: Chapter Seven 150 humankind values them or fails to. A Th i rd Argument So far, Rolston's position needs the support of reasons which his axiology does not clearly provide. However, there is 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 sys t ems , and t h e r e a re no cases where an organism seeks a good of i ts own that 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 ts k ind and being a good k i n d vanishes , so far as any f a u l t i n g of t he organism i s concerned. To this extent, everything with a good of i t s k ind i s a good k ind and thereby has in t r ins ic value. But the last sentence of this passage i s , apparently, a logical non sequitur: to say that cats have a feline 'good' (in other words, a good relative to cats) which they pursue does not entail that cats are good i n themselves. How should we read this argument? Is The Aids Vi rus A Good Organism? I sha l l s t a r t with an example which i l l u s t r a t e s the a r g u m e n t ' s problems, then move to a more general understanding of (what I think are) t he i r l og ica l roots . Rolston wr 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 AIDS v i rus i s amoral, and we cannot blame i t for being destructive as i t fulfi l ls i ts telos; therefore, we can agree when Rolston says that i t seeks a good of i ts own which is not morally reprehensible. Rolston continues (Proposition 2): "The distinction between having a good of i ts k ind and being a good k ind vanishes, so far as any faulting of the organism i s concerned." For Chapter Seven 151 the AIDS v i rus , this good i s presumably to prosper and replicate within i ts host, and so an AIDS v i rus which acts towards this end is a good (k ind of) organism. This may seem o d d , and the sense t h a t something i s awry grows when Rols ton 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 ind is a good k ind and thereby has int r ins ic value." Disease car ry ing viruses are, generally speaking, nasty things to have around, and, on an everyday assessment, the AIDS v i rus i s more l ikely to be judged unequivocally bad. However, Rolston seeks to overcome ou r r e l u c t a n c e to accep t Proposition 3 by invoking a novel moral outlook, a broad 'ecological pe rspec t ive ' , which i s the view f rom the ' p a r e n t a l e n v i r o n m e n t ' mentioned above. It is essentially the 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 init ial ly appear bad from an everyday moral perspective, or from the perspective of some particular organism, but he defends their inherent goodness by claiming that , " i f we enlarge the p e r s p e c t i v e i t t y p i c a l l y becomes d i f f i cu l t to say that any species i s a bad k i n d o v e r a l l i n the 15 ecosystem." Rolston Is Equivocating But this does not put Rolston's argument r ight . F i rs t , i t i s not inconceivable that an organism might be judged bad even from the ecological perspec t ive . Imagine a g i an t k i l l e r c o c k r o a c h w h i c h threatens to destroy everything else on earth before dying i tself from s t a r v a t i o n . Is t h i s no t a ' b a d ' o r g a n i s m ? I f so , a n d i f g i a n t cockroaches s t i l l have a good of their k ind , then 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 l ike a giant cockroach is not morally reprehensible because i t i s amoral. But i f i t i s , therefore , 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 is that the cockroach belongs to a morally neutral k ind . Alternately, i f the cockroach can be judged according to some (ecological?) perspective i n Proposition 3, then the cockroach can also be found 'moral ly r e p r e h e n s i b l e ' a c c o r d i n g to the same perspective i n Proposition 1. Thus, Rolston's argument equivocates between different evaluative cr i ter ia i n going from Proposition 1 to 3. This equivocation may be understood as requir ing us to attribute two different senses of 'good' to Proposition 2. When we say that an organism is "a good of i ts k ind" , we are making a morally neutral judgment; when we say that an organism i s of "a good k ind" , we are making a moral judgement. Shorn of this error , Rolston's argument no longer supports the conclusion that organisms have intr ins ic 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 organism is s t r ic t ly neither. This i s akin to the point made earlier when i t was suggested that i t i s nature which produces organisms, but i t i s humans who accord them value. Thus, i n general (and the point bears repetition), although al l l iv ing organisms may have goods of their own, and although we may Chapter Seven 153 agree that none of these goods are morally reprehensible, i t does not follow that a l l l iv ing organisms are good i n themselves (and have in t r ins ic value). Furthermore i t seems unduly anthropocentric — and, therefore , incongruous with ecosophism's move away from human centredness — to paint the universe i n br ight moral colours when we could have an ini t ial ly neutral view less obscured by human concerns and interests. 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 for moral agents to v a l u e a l l l i v i n g o r g a n i s m s , a n d t h e l o g i c a l d i f f i c u l t i e s j u s t desc r ibed , make his v i ta l i sm hostage to s c e p t i c a l c r i t i c i s m . Hi s arguments are, therefore, unlikely vehicles for fe r ry ing us across the mattering gap. Even so, there i s beauty and power i n Rolston's search for a radically new k ind 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, taking 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 intui t ive 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 jus t as a means to human ends. Perhaps Taylor can bui ld an •i argument which meets the need. He i s more explicit than Rolston when handling the metaphysical and logical problems which seem to resul t from basing moral change i n ecology. Chapter Seven 154 TAYLOR'S VITALISM Part ing Company With Rolston L i k e Rolston, Char les W. Taylor a r g u e s t h a t because 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 iv ing organisms 17 are things on whose behalf i t i s possible to act. Also l ike Rolston, Taylor claims that l i v i n g t h i n g s , and t h e i r goa l s , have i n h e r e n t value; however, Taylor 's strategy separates from Rolston's when he insis ts that inherent value i s ascribed and not discovered. Taylor asks us to "keep i n mind that inherent worth is not some mysterious sor t of object ive proper ty . . . tha t can be d i s c o v e r e d by e m p i r i c a l observation". Rather, claiming inherent value for something requires 18 giving "good reasons for ascribing that k ind of value to i t " , and the task Taylor sets himself i s to enunciate reasons for ascribing equivalent inherent value to each l iv ing organism. The Structure of Taylor 's Argument Tay lo r ' s argument has three main components , 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 rn , 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 well 19 ordered" and "consistent with a l l known scientific t ruths". He makes plain that this belief system is not intended to be mandatory for ' r a t iona l ' agents, i n the way that be l i e f i n the 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 ic t inconsistency. Taylor also notes that he cannot just ify Chapter Seven 155 the fundamental attitude which the belief system supports by referr ing 20 to "a more general attitude or a more basic normative principle." Thus, the ascription of inherent value to organisms depends on a fundamental attitude 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 l i teral ly described than) the ecological perspective which Rolston recommends. It comprises the following perceptions: A l l l i v i n g organisms are pa r t s of an 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 ts well b e i n g on o t h e r 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 of dependency. 2 1 - Within the network, each organism is a teleological system pursuing 22 'goods' of i ts own. From an ecological perspective, there are no discernible cr i ter ia 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 jus t one relatively new kind of organism amongst many, and could be removed 23 from the biotic community without harming much else. In sum, the biocentric outlook posits that, jus t as a l l humans have equivalent importance from a disinterested moral perspective, so Chapter Seven 156 al l l iv ing organisms have equivalent importance from a disinterested, biocentric perspective. One need not be an ecologist to f ind this view familiar; i t i s becoming a c l i che 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 iche we should accept? Of the p e r c e p t i o n s wh ich compr i s e the b iocentr ic outlook, the f i r s t two are h a r d l y den i ab l e . A n d any reservations concerning Taylor 's final claim will be held over unt i l 24 his position is fully sketched. Step Two: The Fundamental Attitude The next step i n Taylor 's argument i s to urge that, given the biocentric outlook, a certain normative, 'fundamental', attitude is a reasonable consequence. The attitude may be characterised as profound ecological humility, and i t involves what Taylor calls the "denial of human s u p e r i o r i t y " . In essence, the fundamenta l a t t i t u d e i s a wi l l ingness to be guided i n our d e c i s i o n s and ac t ions by the b iocentr ic outlook. Al though the ou t look may i n i t i a l l y appear to i nvo lve only a 'de tached ' , ' s c i e n t i f i c ' assessment of t he way the w o r l d i s (an i n t e r e s t i n g i n t e l l e c t u a l c o n s t r u c t , b u t of s m a l l consequence 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 th i s ? , wi l l be ra i sed as soon as we have a complete o u t l i n e of Taylor 's argument.) Step Three: Equality Of Value S t ep t h r e e a r g u e s t h a t t h e f u n d a m e n t a l a t t i t u d e makes i t reasonable to ascribe equal inherent value to the realisation of each l iv ing organism's particular good. Taylor begins by urging that i f a l l Chapter Seven 157 l i v ing organisms are equally important, then no organism pursues a good which is more significant than that of any other. In consequence, i t i s r e a s o n a b l e 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 v a l u e to t h e 25 realisation of the goods of aU l iv ing organisms. Unless, of course, there are other considerations to take account of. With such a possibility i n view, Taylor notes that although the denial of human superiori ty and the fundamental attitude offer no basis for claiming that humans, or any other creature, have goods which are of greater inheren t va lue t h a n those of o the r l i v i n g organisms, there remain well accepted c r i t e r i a a c c o r d i n g to which humans do have specia l merit: human ' r a t i o n a l i t y ' i s an o b v i o u s 26 example. However, Taylor urges that cr i ter ia l ike rationality are inadmissable — at least at the level of in i t ia l value attributions — because they are already informed by a uniquely human concept of value. If and when invoked, such cr i ter ia automatically accord humans specia l s igni f icance; t hus , they e leva te human wor th and beg the question what inherent value different entities have. As Taylor puts i t : 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 humans are super io r to nonhumans, wh ich i s t he po in t i n question. A Large Burden Of Proof Thus, Taylor reaches the deeply controversial conclusion that the rea l isa t ion of each organism's good s h o u l d be a s c r i b e d the same inherent value. For moral purposes, you, and I, and a cockroach al l start out equal. It seems fair to say that this egalitarianism i s a radical departure from received moral th inking and requires a major shi f t i n moral emphasis, ra ther t han d e v e l o p i n g or 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 is reason to think his argument inadequate to the s train. A Deeper Similarity To Rolston's Position Note that one may accept the biocentric outlook while refusing steps two and three of Tay lo r ' s a rgument because the b i o c e n t r i c outlook i s morally neutral and has no normative force. A l l the outlook claims is that every l iv ing thing 'pursues ' i t s own good, and that ecology offers no basis for saying that the good of one thing is more significant than the good of another. But this i s consistent with the conclus ion tha t nothing has i n h e r e n t va lue as wel l as wi th the conclusion that everything does. It i s only when (and if) we embrace the normative attitude introduced at step two, and grant (some) moral s ignif icance to an ecological p e r s p e c t i v e , t h a t T a y l o r ' s a rgumen t moves to i ts conclusion. Thus, i n at least one other important aspect, Taylor 's argument i s similar to Rolston's. Like Rolston, Taylor wants to invest a seemingly sc ient i f ic and morally neu t ra l d e s c r i p t i o n of the w o r l d wi th mora l significance. But why should we do that, rather than insis t ing that moral i ty, which i s a human a r t i f ac t and has i t s own t r a d i t i o n a l sources of value i n human (and, p o s s i b l y , s e n t i e n t welfare) i s something dist inct 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 , ini t ia l ly , a morally neutral description of the world, and i t i s fair to seek reasons for al lying morality to that description, part icularly Chapter Seven 159 i n view of the consequences Taylor pursues. An Exercise In Attitude Adjustment To the best of my understanding, Taylor does not do th is . Although he ably describes the k ind of attitude he wants us to adopt, he does not provide clear reason why we should adopt i t . Instead, Taylor simply advocates that we make the biocentric outlook "part of the conceptual framework through 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 their good. This i s a k i n to an exercise i n medi ta t ion . Seemingly mora l ly neu t ra l , • sc ien t i f ic ' , claims about the w o r l d are adop ted , and the world i s viewed i n l ight 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 i t? Humanists and sentientists who want to insert a wedge between the two ends of the process can fairly ins is t that Taylor provide reasons. And 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 — is motivated by the sense of environmental c r i s i s hovering over late 20th century thought, and that this has much to do with why vitalism appears so reasonable to i ts proponents. Given the damage human action is causing, i t i s reasonable to reach for a new moral vision, and i t i s reasonable to think that i f we are guided more by what we f ind i n nature, we will do less harm. However, neither Goodpaster, Rolston, nor Taylor make th is pragmatic concern explicit, Chapter Seven 160 and i t i s not a possibili ty I want to explore unt i l the survey of current accounts of moral scope i s complete. There i s more to learn from the current approach to vitalism, and there is ecosophism yet to consider. AN UNACKNOWLEDGED COHERENCE WITH TRADITION Can One 'Ac 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 this as an accurate view. (The problem, I have said, i s furnishing good reasons to do so.) However, that may be disputed. As noted earlier, there i s 'something i t i s l ike ' 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 hungry 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 the cat ' s psychologica l ly based i n t e r e s t s . B u t ( i n Nage l ' s ph rase ) there i s nothing i t i s l ike to be a tree. In consequence, i t may be argued that whereas sentientism can invi te 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 this view, I shall close the present chapter by de sc r ib ing and d i s c u s s i n g the s i m i l a r i t y between al l l iv ing organisms. Please bear i n mind that what follows is not intended i n any way as an argument for th inking that moral agents should act on behalf of nonsentient, organisms: i t i s not offered as an argument for moral expansion. Rather, i t i s a further attempt to show that, were there adequate reason for moral expansion beyond Chapter Seven 161 s e n t i e n t i s m , v i t a l i s m (at l e a s t ) w o u l d no t be so s t r a n g e as sentientists imagine. 'Thinking Like A Tree' To start with the claim that we can act on a tree's behalf, a tree — as both Rolston and Taylor point out — is a dynamic, teleological organism, s t ruggl ing to l ive and reproduce. In common with a l l l i v ing organisms, a t ree ' 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 genet ical ly determined telos, and the t r e e has c l e a r needs . T h u s , although the tree experiences nothing, events i n the world can be i n t e r p r e t e d 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 i t s te leological development. In consequence , j u s t as i t i s p o s s i b l e to act on a cat's behalf, because the cat has goals and can be helped or h indered i n ach iev ing them, so i t i s p o s s i b l e to ac t on a t r e e ' s behalf. Note, too, tha t t h i s r e l a t i v e l y unemot iona l c a l c u l a t i o n of what wi l l benefit a t ree i s a l ready the way i n wh ich a s e n s i b l e , concerned sent ient is t often takes accoun t of s e n t i e n t nonhumans . Although imagination and empathy have their 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 this . Teleology entails that there i s a general ly unregarded s i m i l a r i t y between humanis t , s e n t i e n t i s t , a n d v i t a l i s t c o n c e r n f o r g o a l - o r i e n t e d , l i v i n g individuals , which contrasts markedly with ecosophism's concern for systems and non-l iving things. These similarities make crossing the mattering gap less strange, even i f (as the Goodpaster-Sumner debate has shown) vitalists cannot appeal to a shared notion of ' interests ' . Chapter Seven 162 Furthermore, although i t may be thought eccentric or controversial to say so, I f ind 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 al l l iv ing organisms. The Similarity Between Organisms Suppose that, i n the manner of a children's story, we te l l a tale 31 cal led 'The Life Of A Tree ' . The s t o r y i s g o i n g to have many s imi lar i t ies to the s to ry to ld of any o the r o rgan i sm on e a r t h precisely where there are dissimilarities from a story told of any non l iv ing ent i ty we are yet famil iar w i t h . T r e e s , l i k e c a t s , may either grow from parental seeds by sexual cellular combination and division, or, l ike more simple organisms, from offshoots produced by asexual cellular divis ion. They do so according to a genetic blueprint contained within each cel l , and by using fuel and materials actively sought from the environment. Conditions are favourable or unfavourable to their growth. Other organisms help or hinder them. Eventually, i f c o n d i t i o n s a r e s u f f i c i e n t l y f a v o u r a b l e , a t r e e , l i k e a l l o t h e r organisms, reproduces i n a manner which transfers a l l , or some of i ts genetic plan to a separate, similar entity. In time, and again l ike a l l other organisms, a t ree ' s a b i l i t y to r e p l i c a t e i t s own c e l l s atrophies, and i t dies. Personally, I f ind this 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 l ive and f lourish. As noted above, this may seem eccent r ic or con t rove r s i a l , bu t I t h i n k many g a r d e n e r s , s i l v i c u l t u r a l i s t s , and env i ronmenta l i s t s w i l l know exac t ly what I Chapter Seven 163 mean. Although a tree has no l i teral 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 budding, and the branches reaching to the l ight . A tree or a plant i s enough l ike us to permit some degree of i d e n t i f i c a t i o n 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 t h i s i s insufficient reason to grant moral standing to trees and plants (let alone enfranchise a l l nonsent ient o r g a n i s m s ) , b u t i t does make vitalism less odd. Were there good reason to embrace vitalism, this empathetic perspective would be a useful adjunct to the biocentric outlook. The Objection From Choo-Choo Trains In response to a l l this , i t may be said that i t i s possible to te l l the same k ind of anthropomorphising children's tale about almost 32 any entity, even a 'choo choo t ra in ' , as one cr i t ic has claimed. But a tale about a t r a i n must lean h e a v i l y on metaphor , and i t does anthropomorphise, whereas what I have said about the tree i s l i terally t rue. Non-l iving entities do not grow by cellular division; they do not seek nutrients and energy from their environment and use them to build cells; they do not car ry multiple copies of their own blueprints which are passed on to sexually, or asexually, created offspring; they do not die i n the l i t e r a l sense tha t t h e i r a b i l i t y to r e p l i c a t e themselves, c e l l by c e l l , i s los t . 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 iv ing organism, i n the sense of acting i n a manner congruent with i t s interests (in a broad enough sense) and i ts teleologically determined needs, there are similarities between l iv ing organisms, whatever t h e i r degree of c o m p l e x i t y , where t h e r e a re dissimilarities to non-l iving entities. Chapter Seven 164 The extent of this similarity and dissimilarity can be i l lustrated by imagining that the t ra in and the tree are both abandoned i n your garden. You leave them there, and the t ra in 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 sun. The tree may succeed, thus growing, and establishing a cluster of trees around and through the collapsing t ra in . The tree i s ac t ive and te leological . This i s R o l s t o n ' s po in t when he i n s i s t s : 33 "Nothing matters to a tree but much is v i ta l . " The cr i t ic may now point out that the t ra in s t i l l rott ing on my lawn could have been substantially benefited by my actions. I could have kept the t ra in painted, lubricated, and generally i n good running order . True . There i s no quest ion t h a t n o n - l i v i n g e n t i t i e s can be benefited or harmed by human actions. Just about anything i n the realm of Austin 's 'medium size d ry goods' can be benefited or harmed by human actions: al l that i s necessary is that we be able to affect them, and that we have some cri ter ion for dist inguishing positive from negative changes. This i s the realisation informing Sumner's fear that a concern for affect-free i n t e r e s t s i s a p o t e n t i a l j u g g e r n a u t . However, jus 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 vital ist concerns are similar, i n some ways, to sentientist ones. It i s i rrelevant that jus t about any entity can be benefited and harmed, because what l inks a l l l iv ing 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 spe l l ing out the s i m i l a r i t y between a l l l i v i n g organisms which will also explain why trains are not l ikely candidates 34 for moral consideration, at least on vital ist grounds. In l ight of what has been said about teleology, this can now be readily done because, unlike a tree, a t rain does not have goals and tendencies of development which spr ing from the t ra in itself. In so far as a t ra in has a goal, i t i s the consequence of the p u r p o s e wh ich humans manufactured the t ra in to fu l f i l l . Thus, a t ra in offers only second hand human purposes to act on beha l f of. By c o n t r a s t , a t r e e ' s 35 teleology is utterly independent of human act ivi ty. In acting 'on b e h a l f of a t r a i n , we are, the re fore , a c t i n g on beha l f e i t h e r of humankind i n general or of certain particular humans. But i n acting on b e h a l f of a t r e e we a r e t a k i n g t h e p a r t of an i n d e p e n d e n t , teleological entity, which is i n the world independently of humans and, aside from nuances of hybridisation and si lvicul ture, i s the way i t i s independently of humans. In other words, a t ra in i s a human project. But a tree is a 'natural project' (to use Rolston's phrase) i n jus t the same way as a t iger . The point of vitalism i s to offer reason for enfranchising al l 36 l i v i n g , natural projects. Human projects are another issue entirely. A Common Need For 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 requires a seemingly fundamental account of inherent value which many will f ind 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 eve l of v i ta l i sm (so to speak) , t hey are u n s u p p o r t e d by o the r principles or premises, and i t i s hard to know how they might be argued for without question-begging. At the same time, i t does seem reasonable to require independent support for something which yields such serious consequences. Thus, this chapter i n the debate between vitalism and i t s cr i t ics ends i n an impasse similar to the one we faced when a l l t h r e e u t i l i t a r i an sentientisms were r e j e c t e d by humanism. V i t a l i s m a n d 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 of n o r m a t i v e significance. However, i n the case of sentientism, i t was argued that this need could be met by offering an account of morality's function supportive of sentientist goals. Vitalism, too, could reasonably hope to sat isfy c r i t i c s by offer ing an accoun t of m o r a l i t y ' s f u n c t i o n showing why morality should be a l l i e d wi th a b r o a d l y e c o l o g i c a l 37 perspective. And, as noted earlier, the obvious source of support i s the environmental concern which motivates vitalism. But how should this be made part of a compelling account of morality's function which w i l l j u s t i f y 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 Eight ECOSOPHISM Even though the arguments for vitalism may seem radical and controversial enough i n themselves, the contemporary thrus t for moral expansion s t i l l has considerable energy. Beyond vitalism, lie those arguments classified as 'ecosophist', arguments designed to extend the moral franchise to species, ecosystems, and even non-l iving natural entities l ike 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 is commonly known as 'deep ecology', although Warwick Fox has recent ly a rgued that the pos i t i on would be be t t e r d e s i g n a t e d ' transpersonal ecology' . 1 Note that ecosophism will be not explored i n enough depth to provide a complete or historical survey of i ts claims. My purpose is 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 , a n d e v e n s e n t i e n t i s t , arguments, current ecosophism is open to criticisms which i t only pa r t i a l ly answers; consequent ly , debate between e c o s o p h i s t s a n d conservative cr i t ics quickly tends towards an impasse. Note, too, that as discussed earlier, developing a generous, but broadly acceptable, answer to the ini t ia l question involves showing reasons for expansion which speak to the more conse rva t i ve v i ews of m o r a l i t y . T h i s conc lud ing chapter of explorat ion 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 is a general weakness of the movements for expansion; i t will then be timely (in Part Four) to review what the movements from in te res t and ecology have demonst ra ted , and to b e g i n s e e k i n g an alternative strategy. Chapter Eight 168 ECOSOPHISM BY STAGES A Familiar Strategy Rolston's argument for ecosophism develops i n stages reminiscent of S inge r ' s expanding c i r c l e . The f i r s t s tage i s the a rgumen t f o r vitalism which has already been discussed. It featured two central claims: F i r s t , a l l l i v i n g organisms are t e l e o l o g i c a l e n t i t i e s w i t h goods of their own which a moral agent can act to promote or hinder. Second, al l l i v ing organisms have an inherent value. As discussed i n the las t chapter , Rolston writes as t h o u g h these are r e l a t i v e l y independent 'co-premises' of vitalism during the expository stages of h i s a r g u m e n t , b u t , e l s e w h e r e , he seems to w i s h to l i n k t hem deductively. I shall not re-open the issue here. With v i ta l i sm as h is basis , Rols ton now goes f u r t h e r , c l a i m i n g moral s tanding for species, ecosystems, a n d , f i n a l l y , n o n - l i v i n g ent i t ies . He does not qui te claim t h a t these are also 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 ind of noninstrumental value, "systemic value", i n order to provide reason for moral agents to act i n support of naturally established headings.^ Init ial Reservations: 'Headings' The f i rs t thing 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 ta l i sm. Rolston descr ibes i t as what a n o n - t e l e o l o g i c a l , b u t s t i l l dynamic system tends to do over time. For example, he claims that species have a heading towards reproductive success within their environment, and that success fu l spec ie s have a head ing t o w a r d s Chapter Eight 169 stabil i ty. 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 diversi ty and stabil i ty, and old growth forest would appear to provide an example of th is heading.^ However, despite these examples there i s reason to be sceptical about the 'headings' which Rolston identifies because alternatives are so readi ly avai lable . Cosmology, f o r example, s u g g e s t s t h a t e n t i r e worlds and solar systems have a 'heading' towards final destruction, a collapse into inorgan ic s impl i c i ty and e n t r o p i c s t a b i l i t y w h i c h , apparent ly , pervades a l l aspects of n a t u r e . A n o t h e r a l t e r n a t i v e heading is offered by the tendency of any one species to expand at the expense of other l i fe- forms. Gran ted , o u t r u n n i n g the food 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 an ecosystem completely dominated by one highly successfu l species , with a r educed number of o the r l i f e forms p rese rved by i t for i t s own purposes . T h u s , i t would seem tha t , without a lot more being said, no particular heading can be offered as a guide to morally r ight act ion. 6 Initial Reservations: 'Systemic Value' The notion of 'systemic value' i s also problematic. According to Rolston, ' systemic value ' i s the va lue pos se s sed by a s y s t e m , or process , which (1) generates en t i t i e s wi th i n h e r e n t v a l u e , (2) has other than merely instrumental value, and (3) does not have inherent value. For example, Rolston claims that an ecosystem has systemic value. An ecosystem meets the f i r s t two positive cr i ter ia because i t Chapter Eight 170 g e n e r a t e s e n t i t i e s w h i c h h a v e i n h e r e n t v a l u e , a n d i t i s no t ins t rumenta l to any goal. It meets the t h i r d , n e g a t i v e c r i t e r i o n , because, on Rolston 's def in i t ion , t h e sys tem i t s e l f does not 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 is not a teleological entity with goals of i ts own which i t acts to defend and further. (Remember that, for Rolston, inherently valuable entities are ones which actively 'seek' their own goods, and Rolston claims that ecosystems do not do this.) Rolston contrasts an ecosystem with a b i rd . A b i rd acts so as to ensure i ts surv iva l ; therefore, a b i rd has value for itself, and, thus, inherent value. An ecosystem, according to Rolston, does not do this , and does not have value for itself. Those of us who take a relational view of value, and who do not subsc r ibe to Rolston 's claim that i n h e r e n t va lue i s a d i s c o v e r a b l e qua l i ty possessed by ent i t ies , w i l l f i n d l i t t l e r ea son , he re , to dist inguish 'inherent' from 'systemic' value. Entities which we value for what they are i n themselves will a l l be classed as ' inherently valuable ' and, l i k e Rolston 's n o n - r e l a t i o n a l accoun t of v a l u e , t h i s new notion 'systemic value' will be found unhelpful. A Th i rd Element: 'Projective Nature' There i s a t h i r d element to Ro l s ton ' s a rgument . He d i s c u s s e s something called 'projective nature* which he portrays as a scene of restlessness and change, construction and decay. Nature i s " fu 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 p lanetary des t ruc t ion . Ro l s ton p o i n t s out t h a t s c i ence discovers no point or purpose i n this k ind of act ivi ty, no goals and no teleology. However, viewed across time, he says, we f ind 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 speciated, and i n d i v i d u a l o rganisms grew more p h y s i c a l l y and psychologically complex. Ecosystems stabilized. Awareness and self awareness evolved. With this panorama before us, Rolston suggests that we already have reason to take account of more than the individual l i v i n g ent i t ies enfranchised by v i t a l i s m . "What i s an a p p r o p r i a t e o attitude toward such a projective system?", he asks. But Why Does Projective Nature Warrant Moral Concern? Thus , j u s t as when a rgu ing for v i t a l i s m , R o l s t o n ' s p r i m a r y justification for extending moral concern to the ecosystem i s a r i ch , detailed description of 'projective nature'. Also as before, there i s no apparent rational requirement to accept the moral attitudes which, for Rolston, accompany his v i s i o n . A l t h o u g h ' p r o j e c t i v e ' n a t u r e certainly warrants awe, that does not obviously translate into moral concern. Conservative cr i t ics of moral expansion will want reason for credit ing such awe with moral force. What i s more, i t can be argued that because we humans are integral to the panorama Rolston describes, i t i s sufficient for us to rely on the needs, dr ives, and inst incts which projective nature has provided, rather than s t ruggl ing to extend morality beyond the human society where i t makes best sense. We are, of course, seemingly destructive creatures, but destruction itself i s integral to the dynamic processes Rolston describes. In short, what Chapter Eight 172 s t i l l needs to be exhibited is the l ink between Rolston's description of projective nature and a moral concern for species and ecosystems. 1 0 Living-Systems Ecosophism As i n the case of vitalism, Rolston's descriptions and evocations can be understood i n two ways. We can think of them as accounts of values 'waiting to be discovered' i n nature, or we can think of them as an attempt to promote a fundamental a t t i t u d e wh ich makes i t reasonable to ascribe values i n nature. The former reading is more i n keeping with Rolston's overall tenor, but he himself sometimes talks of an 'appropriate attitude' and, given that this enquiry has adopted a relational view of value, the latter reading i s more germane. In l ight of the latter 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 value i n accordance with the expanded biocentric o u t l o o k . 1 1 An argument for what might be c a l l e d ' l i v i n g - s y s t e m s ecosophism' ( ind iv idua l s , spec ies , and ecosys tems) may t h e n be sketched as follows: L iv ing individuals , species, and ecosystems al l have 'headings' which moral agents can take into account when acting; thus, they are candidates for moral consideration. They are also 'natural projects ' , and i f we take a d i s in te res ted , e c o l o g i c a l view - - an expanded biocentric outlook — we will f ind that they are a l l important and worthy. As Rolston notes, they are a l l developed at a cost i n energy and time, and , therefore , they 'mat te r ' f rom the s t a n d p o i n t of 12 p r o j e c t i v e n a t u r e . I n o t h e r w o r d s , s h o r n of c l a i m s a b o u t Chapter Eight 173 discoverable value, l iv ing systems ecosophism can be argued for by making the same kind 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 perspect ive i t se l f i s morally n e u t r a l , and we must g r a n t i t moral force before the argument can take hold. But why should we do that? Rolston does not explain, and conservative cr i t ics are going to insis 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 iving-systems 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 worth b r i e f l y t r a c i n g the f i n a l s t ep to a complete, fully 'ecological', ecosophism. Like individual organisms, species, and ecosystems, non-l iving natural entities are also natural projects within 'projective nature'. Thus, i f species and ecosystems warrant moral consideration because they are natural projects, then there i s reason to t h ink that 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 rys t a l s , volcanoes, g e y s e r s , head l ands , r i v e r s , spr ings, moons, cirques, paternoster lakes, buttes, mesas, canyons — these are also among the natural kinds. ...They do not have wills or interests but rather headings, trajectories, t rai ts , successions, beg inn ings , endings , c y c l e s wh ich g i v e them a tectonic in tegr i ty . They can be projects (products) of quality. And so, too, can pebbles, breccia, sand, stagnant puddles and anything else pro jec t ive nature y ie lds . If t r a d i t i o n a l c r i t e r i a fo r a s s e s s i n g Chapter Eight 174 'quali ty ' are to be set aside so completely, there i s li t t le to stop us enfranchising a l l the world's 'natural ' furni ture. (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 a l l , they are (as Rolston so beautifully puts it) reconstituted star dust, and they arguably have a 'heading' i n the 14 sense that they are part of a tectonic cycle. Is this , then, a clear reductio of the attempt to extend the moral franchise so far beyond the traditional limits imposed by humanity and s e n t i e n c e ? 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 of o t h e r w i s e reasonable writers that, i f a serious attempt i s made to view the world from a suf f ic ien t ly d i s in t e r e s t ed e c o l o g i c a l p e r s p e c t i v e , a profound appreciation of non-l iving as well as l iv ing nature develops, and this 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 pressing. BRENNAN'S ARGUMENT " Functionlessness' Before turn ing to deep ecology, I am going to consider a much briefer, and conceptually simpler argument for moral expansion. It too, exhibits the need for additional support which is characteristic of ecosophist arguments. Andrew Brennan has proposed extending moral considera t ion "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 n a t u r a l t h i n g s " . 1 5 His claim i s that we can d i s t i n g u i s h between n a t u r a l l y o c c u r r i n g ent i t ies and human ar t i fac ts i n t e rms of ' f u n c t i o n ' , and t h a t t h e distinction between considerable and inconsiderable entities should coincide with this separation. In consequence, he recommends a fully Chapter Eight 175 ecological ecosophism ( l i v i n g sys t ems p l u s n o n - l i v i n g n a t u r a l entities) just as Rolston does. 'Functionlessness' Has Moral Claim Upon Us To appreciate the distinction Brennan is describing, suppose that you are unfamiliar with an entity, E. Brennan claims that so long as E is naturally occurr ing, I can explain to you what i t i s l ike 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 a r t i f a c t , my t e l l i n g y o u what E i s f o r i s e s s e n t i a l to y o u r unders tand ing . Thus , Brennan c la ims an as yet ' m o r a l l y n e u t r a l ' distinction between naturally occurr ing entities and human artifacts. If the basis of Brennan's distinction seems questionable, let us grant i t for now, for argument's sake, i n order to pursue another problematic quest ion. Why, we may ask , s h o u l d ' f u n c t i o n l e s s ' , naturally occurr ing entities be granted consideration? Apparently, Brennan's answer is that 'functionlessness' 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 occurring entities which exhibit goals or 'headings' as part of their natural endowment. At least one phi losopher has sugges ted tha t , i n the case of l i v i n g entities, the possession of an 'end of i ts own' entails that an entity 16 i s an end i n i t se l f , hence cons ide rab l e . B r e n n a n , I t h i n k , i s re lying on a similar view, while going a stage further and seeking to enfranchise a l l naturally occurr ing entities. However, i t i s far from clear why, from the vantage point of r a t i o n a l m o r a l i t y , an e n t i t y Chapter Eight 176 should be deemed an end i n itself jus t because i t has an in t r ins ic telos or heading. If the matter were so simple, this enquiry could be begun and ended i n a matter of pages. Appealing To Chief Seattle As an apparent adjunct to this argument, Brennan also claims that, at other times and i n other places, consideration has been extended to a l l na tura l ly o c c u r r i n g ent i t ies . B r e n n a n quotes at l e n g t h f rom a speech supposedly given by Chief Seattle i n 1854, whom he represents 17 as a k ind of naive ecosophist. For example: Our dead never forget this beautiful earth... We are part of the earth, and i t i s part of us. The perfumed f lowers are our s i s t e r s ; t he dear , t he horse, the great eagle; these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices of the meadow, the body heat of the pony, and man — al l belong to the same family... Unfortunately, i t seems that although Seattle did give a speech i n 18 1854, t h i s passage i s not from i t . However , even i f t hese were Seattle's words, and 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 culture, i t s t i l l would not follow that there is reason for us to follow Seattle's lead. What Brennan needs to offer us i s reason why we should become ecosophists, and this he does not do. But What About Cats and Sheep Dogs? An additional, and serious, problem for Brennan i s created by his o r ig ina l d i s t inc t ion between f u n c t i o n l e s s and f u n c t i o n - d e f i n e d ent i t ies because i t does not effect a c l e a r , mora l ly accep tab l e separat ion of ent i t ies . For example, my ca t T r i l b y , w i t h whom t h e enquiry began, was a 'domestic short hair ' , probably descended from Chapter Eight 177 north African wild-cats domesticated by the Egyptians. These cats have been purpose bred over thousands of years i n order to accentuate qualities l ike their compatibility with humans and their delight i n ki l l ing rodents. Is i t really possible to explain what Tr i lby was l ike without reference to a domestic cat's function as human companion and rat-catcher? I doubt i t . Does that mean my cat lacks moral standing? If so, then what of plough-horses, sheep-dogs, and the many other creatures bred by humans for specific characteristics? Such creatures exhibit a blending of human and innate goals, and they inescapably s t raddle the l ine Brennan wants to d r aw . In a s i m i l a r manner , nonsentient entities l ike planted forests and r ive r s r ives are also ' na tu ra l ' but ' func t iona l ' . Thus , i t seems the d i v i s i o n 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 intr insical ly functionless and func±ion-exhibit ing entities. DEEP (AND TRANSPERSONAL) ECOLOGY Naess's Egalitarian, Non-Axiological Legacy Deep ecology, which i s the philosophical chi ld of Arne Naess's 19 fecund 'retirement', i s even less l ike 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 buil t 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 t o no te a b o u t deep e c o l o g y i s t h a t i t i s Chapter Eight 178 egalitarian — i t refuses humanity privi leged moral status and rejects 21 any moral hierarchy of entities — and i t i s non-axiological. The second thing to note is that deep ecology i s presented as a moral 22 option rather than as a position incumbent on rational agents: S p e c i f i c a l l y , t h e f a c t t h a t t r a n s p e r s o n a l ecologists [i .e. deep eco log i s t s ] are not i n the business of wanting to claim that their conclusions are morally binding on others means that they do not attempt to prove 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 ent i re way of l i fe i n the A r i s t o t e l i a n mold, w h i c h , u n l i k e the 23 Aristotelian recipe, makes no claim to be uniquely r ight . In l ight of this , i t i s unsurpr is ing that deep ecology, too, will be found to lack the resources for providing conservative cr i t ics with broadly compelling reasons for moral expansion. However, I shall conclude this chapter by urging that deep ecology's focus on self-realisation is suggestive of a move towards such reasons. The Foundational Claims The essence of deep ecology can be understood i n terms of a now familiar structure. There i s a world-view — roughly a version of the expanded b iocent r ic outlook — wh ich s u p p o r t s and j u s t i f i e s a fundamental attitude; the attitude then justifies ecosophism's radical expansion of the moral franchise. The world-view i s i tself ecosophist, 24 and is summed up as follows by Fox: . . . a l l subd iv i s ions are seen 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 . Or i n m e t a p h o r i c a l t e r m s , 'separate things i n the world' should be thought of as eddies , r i pp l e s and w h i r l p o o l s i n a s t ream ('unity i n process') rather than as br icks that are totally self-contained and self-sufficient. In other words, a l l separate i n d i v i d u a l s and e n t i t i e s a re i n t e r -Chapter Eight 179 dependent. For some purposes, what we usually think of as discrete individuals are best thought of as multiple aspects of a single larger entity. This i s quite different from the 'world-view' usually adopted by analyt ic phi losophy, which t e n d s to d e s c r i b e 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 physics, Spinoza, Hinduism, Buddhism, 25 and elements of Christ ianity i n aid. But, although these references may lend ecosophism in te l l ec tua l r e s p e c t a b i l i t y , t hey do not , i n themselves, explain what i t i n v o l v e s . I s h a l l b r i e f l y s k e t c h an understanding of deep ecology's world-view. 'F ie ld ' And 'Knots* Deep ecology begins by asking us to recognise that everything i n the world i s interconnected i n the ecological sense. This i s pretty much what the science of ecology and ' e n v i r o n m e n t a l i s m ' a l r eady propound. Roughly, the idea is that al l aspects of our world —the food chain, the climate, and even geomorphic features — are causally related. Change to one k ind 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 f luid and temporary. From other perspectives, they are even sometimes less important than the 26 ove ra l l " f i e l d " within which d i sc re te e n t i t i e s a re " k n o t s " . T h i s step i s potent ial ly more p u z z l i n g t h a n the f i r s t . I t a p p a r e n t l y involves th inking of our world as made up of dynamic processes — cons t ruc t ion , decay, and the p lay of e n e r g y — r a t h e r 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 inc t , permanent e n t i t i e s . Bu t o v e r geo log i ca l time they are constantly changing. In general, when viewed across geological time, geological and geomorphic features are f lu id . They are l ike waves i n a lake, which bui ld , interact, and subside. What i s more, from the s tandpoint of geo logy , t h i s dynamic p r o c e s s i s sometimes more significant than the individual features themselves. So far, nothing has been said about the human individual . But the consequences of the above perspective for our view of ourselves i s c r u c i a l to deep ecology. Jus t as c e r t a i n r e l i g i o u s o u t l o o k s and practices seek a diminishment of 'ego' and a broadening of the sense of self, so, too, does deep ecology. Deep eco logy 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 is ' I ' ) , but with the entire dynamic process constituting the world and i ts individual entities (the field 27 which i s ' I ' ). Quoting Alan Drengson, Fox puts the matter this .28 way: . . .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 concerns , commitments, and 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 of 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 ts defining concept, one which will also sound familiar by now, "the notion of b i o c e n t r i c (or b i o s p h e r i c a l ) 29 egal i tar ianism". Biocent r ic e g a l i t a r i a n i s m r e c o g n i s e s t h a t a l l individual organisms are equal members of the biotic community, and Chapter Eight 181 a l l n o n o r g a n i c e n t i t i e s a r e e q u a l e l emen t s of t h e n a t u r a l infrastructure which supports that community. Deep ecology claims that from a ecosophis t ic , b iocent r ic 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 to prefer the flourishing of one k ind of entity over another, or to deem one k ind of nonorganic entity more 'worthy' than another. Note that this perspective is markedly different from Taylor 's b iocentr ic outlook, which extends on ly to l i v i n g i n d i v i d u a l s l i k e humans, cats , and t rees . It i s also d i f f e r e n t from the expanded biocentric outlook which I credited to Rolston, because Rolston, who does include non-organic entities i n his expanded biocentric outlook, ranks 'natural projects' according to an appraisal of their relative importance from a b iocentr ic p e r s p e c t i v e . In o r d e r to do t h i s , Rolston, of course, relies on an appraisal of value. It i s important to keep i n mind that 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 a r e c o n s i d e r a b l e w i t h o u t a n y 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 tude ' . In deep ecology 's own te rms , 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 ' se l f - rea l i sa t ion ' and by Deva l l and Ses s ions as ' e c o l o g i c a l 30 consciousness ' . " My unde r s t and ing i s t h a t t h i s ' s t a te of b e i n g ' i nvo lves the acceptance of our own i n s e p a r a b l e roo tedness i n the 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 ts own sake, not merely Chapter Eight 182 for instrumental reasons, and we extend moral consideration to al l naturally occurr ing 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 se l f - rea l i sa t ion as m y s t i c i s m and r e l i g i o n . I t w i l l be said that deep ecology has l i t t le bearing on philosophical ethics i n the western (and part icularly the analytic) t radit ion. And , certainly, Naess d id not see himself as ' do ing e t h i c s ' i n the t r a d i t i o n a l 31 sense. However, deep ecology does pursue a basic strategy common to the movement from ecology, and i t s a p p a r e n t s t r a n g e n e s s may be lessened by focuss ing on the more f ami l i a r a s p e c t s . T h u s , i t i s important to note that, as explained above, deep ecology is proposing a b i o c e n t r i c o u t l o o k w h i c h s u p p o r t s a f u n d a m e n t a l a t t i t u d e characterised by a willingness to husband the non-human world for non-ins t rumenta l 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 occurr ing entities. The difference between deep ecology and the other vitalist and ecosophist approaches is largely a result of deep ecology car ry ing through the programme to establish a fundamental attitude more thoroughly. It treats the fundamental attitude, and 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 this thoroughness which moves deep ecology i n the direction of metaphysics, religion, and the construction of an ethos. 'Showing How' Rather Than 'Arguing For ' 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 th is enquiry, they share a common fai l ing. 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 iber ty to set aside. It i s apparently their view that i f we begin the move towards biocentrism, i t will gain a momentum of i ts own, and we will end up radically changed. In defense of t h i s s t ra tegy , i t may be f a i r l y s a i d t h a t deep ecology invokes a different k ind of argument than 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 such an expansion. However, t h i s e n q u i r y does need to a rgue for the r e a s o n a b l e n e s s of m o r a l e x p a n s i o n ( i f i t i s to e n d o r s e mora l expansion) because i t i s an enquiry 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 ini t ia l question. Suppose We Forced The Issue Before we do conclude this discussion of deep ecology, let us suppose we insisted on deep ecology arguing 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 ts ecosophist world-view, then attempt to show that i ts account of moral scope is i n some way entailed by that world-view. On the other hand, i t might be argued that deep ecology is a part icularly reasonable and rewarding response to the Chapter Eight 184 world-view. My unders tand ing i s that these a l t e r n a t i v e s a re not c l e a r l y d i s t ingu i shed by deep ecology, nor fo l lowed u p . However , deep ecology's emphasis on 'self-realisation' and a t ru ly rewarding way of life does suggest that i t i s oriented more towards the second strategy than the f i r s t . As Fox wri tes , s e l f - r e a l i s a t i o n i s the p r o c e s s b y 32 which "we realize a larger sense of self", and quoting Naess: "My concern here is 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 f rom o n e s e l f as a who le . T h i s i s experienced as more meaningful and desirable, even i f sometimes rather 34 painful." In other words, deep ecology and moral expansion are being presented as having positive consequences for humans. This i s a way of th inking about the init ial 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 this 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 enquiry 's main task and primary r a i s o n d ' e t r e . B r i e f l y s t a t e d , h u m a n i s t s a r e f r e e to r e j e c t sentientism, humanists and sentientists are free to reject vitalism, and al l three are free to reject ecosophism. Despite a l l that has been said i n favour of the arguments from expansion, there is no rational compulsion to move beyond moral humanism. An explanation of this 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 purpose and (pa r t i cu la r ly i n the case of v i t a l i s m and ecosophism) invo lves an axiology and an u n d e r s t a n d i n g of what c o n s t i t u t e s meaningful moral argument which is quite different from that espoused by the other accounts . Each of these d i s t i n c t moral ou t looks 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 ini t ial question quickly reaches an impasse. 1 Such debate as there is must, apparently, either involve arguments which beg the question or consist of laying out the relative merits of a position. Or is there a th i rd Chapter Nine 186 alternative? The purpose of the present chapter i s to suggest another possible k ind of approach. In the final chapter, I shall then attempt to sketch the k ind 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 ini t ia l question, and the final chapter will draw out i ts l ikely consequences. TWO CHOICES A Not Unfamiliar Problem The impasse which debate about the i n i t i a l q u e s t i o n has now generated i s not unique i n moral p h i l o s o p h y . The debate between u t i l i t a r i an theor i s t s l i ke S i n g e r , and those who advoca te a n o n -consequential approach to ethics, also requires each party to cal l the other's fundamental perceptions into question. As yet, there i s no generally accepted way to proceed under such circumstances. And , i n the case of the present enquiry, that means there are now two broad choices before us. Choice One The f i rs t choice is to rely on time and continuing debate to focus and resolve the issues raised by the ini t ia l question; eventually, a clear and definitive answer will probably emerge. To take part i n this debate we must further explore the relative strengths and weaknesses of positions and t r y to amplify the vir tues of any which we prefer. A n d , f o r many of u s , t h i s w i l l be an u n s a t i s f a c t o r y o p t i o n . Sent ient is ts are motivated by the weight of c o n t i n u e d nonhuman su f fe r ing , and v i t a l i s t s and ecosoph i s t s are mot iva ted by the perception that the nonhuman world, or at least those aspects of i t on which humans depend, i s being i r r e p a r a b l y damaged. In g e n e r a l , Chapter Nine 187 expansionists view moral ph i losophy as an e s s e n t i a l l y p r a c t i c a l undertaking, and an enlarged moral franchise as a way to reduce abuses prac t iced i n the se rv ice of p e r c e i v e d human i n t e r e s t s . A n d , i t i s su re ly too soon to simply accept, as some deep e c o l o g i s t s seem inclined to, that rational debate about moral standing has already run 2 i ts course. Choice Two The second choice is a more impatient strategy. We can t ry to reformulate debate so as to speed up the process of selecting a 'most reasonable' account of moral scope i n l ight 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 br inging those conceptions into contention. And 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 — is to show that there i s an existing vantage point which does offer a view of moral i ty ' s pu rpose wh ich a l l r a t i o n a l moral agents have reason to accept. If this can be done, that conception of moral purpose may then provide a cri ter ion 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 such a view of moral i ty 's purpose i s avai lable 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 to t h e strengths and weaknesses of the arguments considered so far. But let me s t ress , at t h i s , the outset of P a r t F o u r , t ha t a l t h o u g h what Chapter Nine 188 follows is (in some ways) preparatory to a new k ind 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 this enquiry was the cr i t ica l exploration of current accounts of moral scope, and that has been completed. This final part of the enquiry is 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 will not only show that the conclusions offered above are 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 — their strengths and their 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 br idging the mattering gap. As i n the main body of the enquiry, our start ing point will be moral humanism. The Humanist Challenge Moral humanism s t i l l presents a no tab le c h a l l e n g e to moral expansion; humanism's simple, o r i g i n a l i n s i s t e n c e t h a t m o r a l i t y ' 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 l i terature, those who actively debate the need for moral expansion and environmental issues can hardly fai l to notice that rece ived morality and p o l i t i c a l t h o u g h t s t i l l t e n d s 3 towards humanism. This situation may be gradually changing under the weight of sentientist argument, and even as a consequence of the Chapter Nine 189 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 jus t that humanism's view of morality's purpose i s finally proof against anything expansionists have said; a l l kinds 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 and ing , and reject a l l a t tempts 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 plausible explanation of that l im i t . A c c o r d i n g to moral humanism, morality i s a human artifact which exists i n order to promote the welfare (and protect the rights) of reciprocating moral agents, and, b y e x t e n s i o n , t h e w e l f a r e ( a n d r i g h t s ) of a l l h u m a n s . M o r a l requirements and re s t r i c t ions on ou r b e h a v i o u r a re u l t ima te ly justified because they do promote that goal. Because humanism speaks for the dominant tradit ion, and because humanism has a complete and s y s t e m a t i c e x p l a n a t i o n of i t s p o s i t i o n to h a n d , t h e r e i s a considerable burden of proof on those who wish to achieve moral expansion. Sentientism Sentientism's simplest response to humanism is the bare claim that a concern for nonhuman suffering is the consistent and reasonable companion to a concern for human suffering. If the well-being of young chi ldren, imbeciles, sociopaths, and psychopaths i s morally relevant, then i t i s hard to understand why the well-being of sentient nonhumans i s not. (This i s rough ly what I have c a l l e d ' so f t s en t i en t i sm ' . ) However, as discussed earlier, humanists who are intent on resisting Chapter Nine 190 sentientism can probably find logically irreproachable grounds for enfranchising intellectually, and even morally, limited humans while disenfranchising nonhumans. Thus, i n order to make a more rigorous case for expansion, hedonic and ( p a r t i c u l a r l y ) i n t e r e s t - b a s e d sent ient is ts adopt a more t heo re t i ca l l y s o p h i s t i c a t e d a p p r o a c h grounded, respectively, i n classical and 'preference' utilitarianism. However, both are problematic positions. For one th ing, although util i tarian moral theory does lend r igor to sent ient ism, i t i s far from be ing 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 — for which broad support i s being sought — to the claim that morality i s primarily concerned with maximising pleasure or interest satisfaction and, thus, 4 to par t i san t h e o r i s i n g . For another t h i n g , as became c l e a r when discussing Sumner's view of moral expansion, uti l i tarian moral theory entails an account of moral scope which stops dead at the mattering gap: as Sumner points out, u t i l i t a r i a n i s m i s on ly c o n c e r n e d wi th in te res t s which are accompanied by af fec t . M o r e o v e r , as a r g u e d earlier, uti l i tarian calculations become clearly unworkable beyond the 5 mattering gap (if not sooner). An Unacceptable Anchor This restrict ion of util i tarian ethics to the conservative side of the mattering gap entails a problem which i s more serious than may f i rs t appear for those of us hoping to extend the moral franchise fu r the r . U t i l i t a r i an sent ient is ts who also have 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 util i tarian theory, then embrace another k ind of approach once the mattering gap is reached. But that i s not only inelegant; i t i s unworkable. Chapter Nine 191 If, for example, vitalism is espoused i n addition to sentientism, t h e n t h e r e 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 a n d n o n - s e n t i e n t considerable entities to take into account when evaluating actions. It will , therefore, be necessary to blend and balance the recommendations of util i tarian sentientism and the vital ist theory. That will involve appealing to a t h i rd set of principles or considerations, and they might as well be directly formulated as a single, over-arching account of m o r a l s c o p e . ^ I n o t h e r w o r d s , t h e a t t e m p t to work w i t h utilitarianism plus some other basis for ascribing moral standing will usher i n a new synthesis and eventuate i n a novel moral theory. A possible uti l i tarian response to this situation is to create a more generous, uni f ied account of moral scope by b r o a d e n i n g the interests which are ascribed moral relevance. Thus, ' interests ' 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 u t i l i t a r i an calculat ions across s u c h b r o a d l y c o n c e i v e d ' i n t e r e s t s ' then re-emerges. How are 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 such different kinds of interest? Furthermore, even i f uti l i tarian vitalism could somehow be made to work, any expansion beyond vitalism would have to overcome the (seemingly reasonable) objection that only l iv ing individuals can be ascribed interests. I t h ink we must conclude tha t a u t i l i t a r i a n e th i c i s qu i t e incompatible with crossing the mattering gap. In consequence, those who support both sentientism and (aspects of) the movement from ecology require a non-util i tarian argument for sentientism as well as Chapter Nine 192 grounds for going beyond sentientism. Thus, utilitarianism i s not jus t a moral theory which originates on the humanist side of the mattering-gap, i t i s a moral theory which i s a n c h o r e d to , and a n c h o r s i t s proponents to, that side. The Movement From Ecology J u s t as h u m a n i s m i s f r e e to s t a n d a loo f f rom s e n t i e n t i s t p leadings , so sentientism may r e j ec t the movement from eco logy . 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. In addition, the movement from ecology suf fe r s two main weaknesses . F i r s t , arguments l ike those constructed by Rolston must rely heavily on the claim that inherent value is a discoverable feature of the natural world, and that i s a metaphysically puzzling view of value at best. Second, arguments l ike those constructed by Taylor and the deep ecologists r e ly on an i n i t i a l l y mora l ly n e u t r a l d e s c r i p t i o n of the 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 basis 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, this i s precisely the question which conservative cr i t ics of greater moral generosity will require an answer to. At least one deep ecologist, Fox, has suggested that conservatives are invoking Hume's ' is-ought fallacy*, here, and missing the point 7 entirely. However, I think i t i s Fox who misses the point. As noted Chapter Nine 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 jus t an assumption, i s being offered, and that conservatives invoke no ' fa l lacy ' i n quest ioning i t : i t i s r easonab le to ask why the ' i s ' which supports the 'ought' should be imbued with moral significance. Moreover, i f Fox is correct, and there really i s no argument here, then there i s also no reason why conservative cr i t ics should give the time of day to the movement from ecology. From the standpoint of this enqu i ry — which views 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 is not acceptable. The movement from ecology must seek, and display, reason for granting moral force to i ts informing world view, and for init iat ing the personal and attitudinal changes which i t advocates. The Appeal To Human Interests How might these reasons be provided? I noted dur ing the original discussion of sentientism that, ideally, sentientism needs an account of m o r a l i t y ' s p u r p o s e w h i c h w i l l c l a i m h u m a n i s t l o y a l t y . (The ins is tence that morality i s about maximis ing p l e a s u r e , o r i n t e r e s t satisfaction, simply does not persuade humanists, who have their own conception of moral i ty ' s funct ion . ) I t was a lso no ted d u r i n g the d i scuss ion of v i ta l i sm that 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 imi la r ly , a conception suppo r t i ve of ecosophism would he lp meet ecosophism's need to answer c o n s e r v a t i v e c r i t i c s . T h u s , moral expansion i n general requires the support of sympathetic accounts of 'what morality i s al l about'. Chapter Nine 194 It i s also notable that , i n o rde r to minimise c o n t r o v e r s y and increase acceptability, these accounts of moral purpose had best be free of indebtedness to any particular moral theory. Furthermore, because humanists are going to continue to insis t that morality is 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, ini t ia l ly , seem contrary to the goals of sentientism and the movement from ecology. However, al l parties to this 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 benef ic ia l way of l i f e fo r them i s e i t h e r g o i n g to be unusually short l ived 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 requirement: morality must promote a generally beneficial way of life for those g individuals whose l ives are guided by i t . In consequence, there is a significant commonality between the movements and positions discussed i n this enquiry. What i s more, i t i s a commonality which promises the new vantage point and c r i t e r i on of a c c e p t a b i l i t y d i s c u s s e d at t h e start 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 b e n e f i c i a l way of l i f e f o r h u m a n s . I n i t i a l l y , t h i s r e t u r n to anthropocentrism may seem a total collapse of both the movement from in te res t and the movement from eco logy i n the face of humanis t Chapter Nine 195 intransigence; however, I am going to argue that i s not the case. The t r i c k i s to use t h i s i n i t i a l l y a n t h r o p o c e n t r i c c o n c e p t i o n of morality's purpose to support a radically generous moral franchise; thus, offering a means of resolving the impasse which debate over moral standing has reached. In sum, then , i f i t can be shown t h a t humans w i l l , g e n e r a l l y speaking, be better off i n consequence of moral expansion, then there wi l l be a reason for inc reas ing the moral f r a n c h i s e w h i c h even humanists can be asked to accept . F u r t h e r m o r e , we w i l l have a c r i t e r i on with which to decide the approximate f i n a l s i z e of the franchise because i t should be at least as large as the concern for human welfare will just i fy . THE ARGUMENT FROM PRAGMATISM A Logical Difficulty However, g round ing moral expans ion i n an appea l to r a t i o n a l concern for our own, human, well-being i s logically problematic. This i s b e c a u s e (as has been t h e case t h r o u g h o u t t h i s e n q u i r y ) 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 is 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 recent ly p roposed t h a t t h i s pa radox i s on ly 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 possibili ty of another strategy for expanding what we recognise Chapter Nine 196 from the moral point of view as v a l u a b l e and 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 rms of t h e i r being reason for a l l or most people to va lue x int r ins ical ly . Then one explains that there is no paradox i n offering perfectly general, long term, elevated ins t rumenta l r easons to va lue t h i n g s i n t r i n s i c a l l y I n o t h e r w o r d s , we c a n use ins t rumenta 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 now, i n l i g h t of o u r c u r r e n t predicament, there may be sufficient reasons for a l l , or most of us, to va lue l i v i n g t h i n g s and nature i n general in t r ins ical ly . To use Winkler's own examples, he i s saying that moral expansion can be ju s t i f i ed by us ing the k i n d of i n s t r u m e n t a l r e a s o n i n g wh ich cont rac tar ian apologia for r a t iona l mora l i ty i n v o k e and w h i c h , i n aesthet ics , i s used to p rov ide a bas i s fo 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 think that humans, themselves, are ascr ibed ' inheren t value ' because , o v e r a l l , i t s e r v e s o u r bes t interests to view and treat each other this way. Unpacked, a l i t t le, then , Winkler ' s point i s that a p rocess of i n s t r u m e n t a l r e a s o n i n g analogous to one we are already familiar with can be used to argue as follows: - Cont inu ing human welfare depends upon the w e l l - b e i n g of the nonhuman world, and of the flora and fauna which comprise and sustain i t . Grant ing moral s tanding to those e n t i t i e s i s a r a t i o n a l and efficient way of protecting them from abuse and destruction. Therefore, at a ce r ta in l eve 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 concern for human welfare ju s t i f i e s g r a n t i n g those 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 Tr ick Works It i s crucia l to this proposal that we use instrumental reasoning about what i s good for humans to transcend the initial instrumental c o n c e r n . 1 0 This can be done by using instrumental reasoning about morality to j u s t i fy the adoption of a p a r t i c u l a r k i n d of mora l i ty , namely one which offers n o n - i n s t r u m e n t a l r easons for t a k i n g the necessary entities into account. It i s this separation of reasoning about morality from actual moral decision making which obviates the paradox mentioned above. This k ind 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 ind of morality would be good for people l ike us? considerations with what i s actually said and done by situated moral agents. He notes that dur ing the What k ind of morality would be good for people l ike 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 Ar i s to t l e ' s v i r t ues might be o f f e r e d . T h u s , the moral notions and principles which guide moral agents' everyday, 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 This approach to the i n i t i a l q u e s t i o n i s , to the bes t of my knowledge, a novel one, and i t bears summar i s i ng and r e s t a t i n g . Fol lowing Winkler and Ph i l i p s , the i n i t i a l q u e s t i o n abou t moral Chapter Nine 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 ini t ial ly anthropocentric conception of morality's purpose: morality i s about ac t ing i n c o n c e r t wi th o the r r a t i o n a l 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 rep lac ing the o r i g i n a l an th ropocen t r i c c o n c e p t i o n wi th a more ecocentr ic one i s jus t i f i ab le i n t e rms of m o r a l i t y ' s i n i t i a l goa l . This more ecocentric perspective then becomes part of everyday moral thought , a t t i tudes , and p rac t i ce . I s h a l l c a l l t h i s s t r a t e g y the 12 'argument from pragmatism'. Note that, l ike the accounts of moral scope generally, the argument from pragmatism is 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 And Strategies It i s now essential to recognise that i n itself the argument from pragmatism wi l l not p rov ide reasons f o r s i t u a t e d moral agen t s to enfranchise nonhuman entities. Those reasons must be supplied by s i tuated moral p r i nc ip l e s , be l i e f s , o r a t t i t u d e s . The job of the argument from pragmatism is only to show that there i s good reason why such p r inc ip l e s , bel iefs , or a t t i t udes s h o u l d be a p a r t of human moral i ty. This d iv i s ion of dut ies i s not h a i r s p l i t t i n g . I t i s one t h i n g to say, A ra t iona l morality would encompass the f o l l o w i n g p r inc ip l e s , bel iefs , or a t t i tudes . I t i s qu i t e ano the r t h i n g to s ay , You should enfranchise nonhuman entities because doing so is 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 is 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 more generous outlook should be part of everyday, rational morality, i s going to encourage 'psychic ' or 'cognitive' dissonance i n any who accept the rationale while continuing to act according to contrary principles, beliefs, and attitudes. Remember that this i s an adjunct to moral argument which Singer invokes, and i t i s , I th ink, 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 rs 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 part of any rational conception of human morality. Second, the argument will also tend to encourage intellectual and emotional discomfort i n any who tend to accept i ts conclusions but s t i l l adhere to a more ecologically limited conception of everyday morality. Recasting The Initial Question In uti l is ing this pragmatic approach to moral expansion, I f ind i t helpful to focus on a revised version of the ini t ia 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 br ing pragmatic, instrumental concerns to the fore, with a change of emphasis. Henceforth, this enquiry 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 g e n e r a t i o n a n d w o u l d , i f f o u n d acceptable to their adult selves, be the morality they l ived by: What account of moral scope would we provide them with? This formulation of the i n i t i a l q u e s t i o n has two s i g n i f i c a n t 14 virtues. For one th ing , 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 ike us because our own prior moral education and experience can be distract ing, and can cloud our judgement. For another th ing , by invoking concern for our progeny, the question helps us to concentrate on sustainable human w e l f a r e . T h a t i s p r e c i s e l y what i s most t h r e a t e n e d b y t h e environmental degradation which, I have suggested, i s current ly 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 chi ldren who will learn their t ru th or 15 falsehood. A COMPROMISE (IS ALWAYS) OPEN TO OBJECTIONS A Renewed Objective At the r i sk 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 ini t ia l question i n particular, are designed to focus our attention on elucidating that Chapter Nine 201 account of moral scope which best s e r v e s l o n g - t e r m , r a t i o n a l l y understood, human needs. This i s i n marked contrast to seeking an account of human morality which is already inherent i n , or entailed by, any existing moral theory more complex than the simple claim that human morality must promote (among other things, perhaps, but not least among them) the individual ly conceived welfare of human beings. With this as our goal, we can go on i n the next chapter to t r y to decide the approximate outlines of such an account of moral scope. But f i r s t , t h e r e a r e some o b j e c t i o n s to t h i s way of v i e w i n g a n d approaching the ini t ia l question 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 i ts or igin i n anthropocentrism. However, as I argued above, and as I shall t r y to demonstrate i n the following chapter, anthropocentrism is only i n v o k e d i n o r d e r to p r o v i d e a b r o a d l y a c c e p t a b l e , r a t i o n a l jus t i f i ca t ion for a potent ial ly e c o c e n t r i c m o r a l i t y . T h e r e i s 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 this response may allay vital ist 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 extending c o n s i d e r a t i o n wel l b e y o n d the mattering gap. The chances are good that such a morality would then Chapter Nine 202 entail choosing between maintaining certain human communities and healing damaged ecosystems, and the verdict might well be that we should heal the damaged ecosystem at the expense of short-term human interests and at a cost to ind iv idua l s . 1 ^ However, because this k ind of ecosophist morality would finally ground i n a concern for human welfare, there would then be a powerful temptation to di tch our more immediate, ecologically focused principles, i n favour of the original concern. Those who favour a more radical res t ructur ing of morality than that envisaged by the argument from pragmatism will point to this as a serious problem. And they are r ight . 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 buil t up on a basis of anthropocentric concern can be undone when human interests are at stake. 'Insulation' And A New Conception Of 'The Good Life ' Part of the answer to the problem, I think, is to reduce both the temptation and the instabil i ty of what i s constructed by ' insulat ing' the final ethic from i ts origins as thoroughly as possible. Following a general t rend i n the movement from ecology, the argument from pragmatism can be used to r a t iona l ly j u s t i f y 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 their 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 pr ior i ty to establish that a more biocentric outlook, and an adequately protec t ive fundamental a t t i t u d e , a re r a t i o n a l Chapter Nine 203 constituents of the basic stuff of everyday, 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 al leviate v i t a l i s t and e c o s o p h i s t wor r i e s to recognise tha t what i s thought to c o n s t i t u t e the ' good l i f e fo r humans' i s l ikely to change consequent on moral agents developing a more biocentric outlook and moral attitude. A healthy biosphere tends to become more crucia l to one's personal sense of well being as the k ind 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 Trad i t iona l humanists may now ob jec t t ha t I am t a l k i n g about 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 contrary. The movement from pragmatism is a way of t r y i n g to show that setting aside traditional forms of humanism might be a step which is rationally most consistent with humanism's own raison d'etre. Hence Winkler's talk of the movement from pragmatism ' transcending' i ts origins. But I am not so naive as to think 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 think 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 is to promote human welfare, and i n advance of the k ind of moral change which current attempts to achieve moral expansion might br ing , 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 i t 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 is no need to change our morality i n order to do that . Simple prudence and 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 a re sufficient. But are they? If we offer our chi ldren an essentially humanist (or sentientist) ethic, which teaches that nonhuman entities only have a s t r i c t l y l imited ins t rumenta l s i g n i f i c a n c e fo r human a f f a i r s (or insofar as they can suffer) and no (other) source of moral importance i n themselves, then the chances are good that our chi ldren 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 their actions, and they will invoke small, or even nonexistent , safety margins to p r o t e c t t he e n v i r o n m e n t . The consequences of t h i s k i n d of app roach are becoming 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 ind of moral outlook: wilderness and species are vanishing at an alarming rate, pollution is 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 everything we need. In that case, the wiser course i s to e r r on the side of safety and wor ry more about p r e s e r v i n g ou r environment than maximising short-term interest satisfaction. An ethic which grants moral standing (and 'inherent value') to the entities we rely on is one way to encourage a safer approach. Of Hubris And Myopia Again, this 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 run , by adopting, and by creating i n ourselves, the k i n d of a t t i tude of ' respect ' for t h i n g s nonhuman wh ich R o l s t o n , 17 Taylor, and the deep ecologists describe. There i s , i n us, a notable tendency to hubris untouched by our enormous ignorance; a tendency to overvalue present needs and i n t e r e s t s compared to f u t u r e ones (particularly so far as our children's futures are concerned); and a tendency to underestimate r i sks under the influence of more immediate concerns and pressures. We need a framework to guide and inform our dealings with nature which will act to mitigate these characteristics now that population size and our powerful technology make us so dangerous. Thus, we need something more than a mere bare ascription of ins t rumenta l value to the env i ronmenta l e n t i t i e s we so o b v i o u s l y depend upon. Of Unpredictabili ty There i s a further aspect to this need for caution i n our dealings with the nonhuman world which we should note. So l i t t le 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 do and not to do. Granted that unreliable predictions are always a problem i n human affairs, we are dealing here with ignorance of an unusual k ind and magnitude. For one th ing , the number and k ind of variables involved i n making environmental predictions renders them especially suspect. Just as we cannot, and may never be able to, p red ic t weather and climatic changes wi th g rea t c o n f i d e n c e , i t i s reasonable to think that we may never be able to accurately predict t h e c o n s e q u e n c e s of p o l l u t i o n , s p e c i e s e x t i n c t i o n , o r h a b i t a t destruction. ^ For another th ing , i f we do gamble on our predictions, we gamble for i r r a t i ona l ly h igh s takes, and a l i t t l e f o r e t h o u g h t w i l l u s u a l l y warn us that they are irrat ionally high. The accident at Chernobyl i s a good i l l u s t r a t i on of t h i s . Nuclear f i s s i o n was a lways c e r t a i n to eventuate i n a serious accident somewhere at some time. Governments gambled, and Russia lost sooner than many expected. In consequence, the Ukraine now suffers a serious loss of land and water which have been made unfit for habitation and use well into the future. Thus, the nuclear power gamble stakes ini t ial ly cheap energy against destruction and pollution on a scale, and for such a long time, that i t i s an 19 irrat ional gamble. One simply does not hazard one's food, water, and a i r s u p p l y . S i m i l a r l y , i t h a r d l y makes s e n s e to gamble w i t h environmental damage i n general. Thus, even i f the environment i s viewed purely as a resource ini t ial ly , i t i s such a crucia l resource, and i t i s such an i r replaceable r e s o u r c e , t ha t t h e r e i s adequa te reason to modify our posi t ion and fo r mora l i ty to a s c r i b e moral standing to environmental entities. Chapter Nine 207 A Rational Ascript ion Of Inherent Value In sum, then (and using the language of 'value'), whereas cr i t ics sometimes urge that moral expansionists are motivated by an axiomatic, a n d r a t i o n a l l y i n d e f e n s i b l e a s c r i p t i o n of i n h e r e n t v a l u e to e n v i r o n m e n t a l e n t i t i e s , my c l a i m i s t h a t t h e r e a r e s o u n d anthropocentric reasons for making those ascriptions. It i s i rrat ional to r i sk or gamble with what i s essential to our l ives and welfare, and 20 the l i ves and welfare of our (a l ready born) c h i l d r e n . A moral attitude and value ascriptions which offer a moral impediment to folly seem to be a sensible step. Paternalism? The k i n d of jus t i f i ca t ion for moral expans ion wh ich I am now proposing might be negatively characterised as involving a blatantly 21 paternalistic approach to ethics. However, the context of discussion is precisely one within which a degree of enlightened paternalism is a vir tue rather than a vice: we are asking what rational morality should be demanding of us, and what our chi ldren need from us i n the way of moral education. If i t i s agreed that whereas morality i s a generally good th ing , chi ldren do need a moral education i n order to become moral agents (and we can hardly doubt either for long); and i f i t i s also agreed that the environment needs protecting from an apparently deep seated human tendency to abuse i t ; then adopting and teaching an extended moral franchise makes good sense. Morality i s , after a l l , a human artifact. I am simply proposing that we take i ts development self-consciously into our own hands — because the need for change is so pressing — rather than waiting for time and moral evolution to follow their more usual course. Furthermore, i t should be noted that, Chapter Nine 208 as made clear i n my earlier reformulation of the ini t ia l question (and i n an accompanying footnote), I am i n no way proposing an attempt to proscribe cr i t ical thought. Whatever i s offered i n the way of moral education, cr i t ica l habits must also be encouraged, and our chi ldren must be taught to rationally debate and, when warranted, ultimately 22 reject what we have given them. The Objection Prom Relativism A t h i r d object ion to the pragmatic s t r a t e g y now needs n o t i n g before we do t u rn to the question where i t might lead. It may be urged that I make i t sound as though the need for moral expansion has arisen only recen t ly . But , i t wi l l be s a id , a mora l i ty wh ich i s r a t i o n a l l y sound now is surely one which was rationally sound a thousand years 23 ago, or even f ive thousand years ago. However , I t h i n k t h i s cri t icism is based i n a misperception of the argument from pragmatism. It i s arguable that, at any place and time, rational morality would grant moral standing i n such a way as to safeguard and promote human welfare. And that would entail a much larger moral franchise than has been traditional. The pragmatic point i s not that there is jus t now a need for moral expansion, and just now a rational justification for expansion. That need has always been there. However, i t i s only now, i n l ight of serious environmental worries, that the need is receiving widespread recognition and the attention of academic philosophy. In short, i t i s important to recognise that this enquiry does not want to be perce ived (and I am sure tha t W i n k l e r does not want to be perceived), as supporting crude moral relativism. If sense can be made of t h e c l a i m t h a t m o r a l p r i n c i p l e s h a v e t e m p o r a l a n d s p a t i a l un ive r sa l i t y , then i t i s en t i r e ly c o n s i s t e n t w i th the p ragmat ic Chapter Nine 209 approach to claim that a la rge moral f r a n c h i s e i s amongst those 24 principles. Just Another Materialism? A l l this talk of human well-being may now be start ing to seem an exclusively and crassly materialist way of viewing our relationship to the environment, so I shall state plainly that I think human emotional and spir i tual needs are also bound up with things nonhuman. Why else would our homes be generously provided with indoor plants, nonhuman companions, and outdoor gardens? Why else would we take such trouble to v i s i t pa rks , beaches, lakes , r i v e r s , mounta ins , f o r e s t s , and anywhere else affording closeness to 'nature'? There can be li t t le d o u b t t h a t h u m a n s a r e p s y c h o l o g i c a l l y ( a n d e m o t i o n a l l y a n d spiri tually) better off for involvement with a f lourishing nonhuman wor ld . For now, though , I only want to make the minimum c la ims necessary for establishing the viabiity of the pragmatic approach. As we consider where that approach may lead, non-material needs will become more prominent. Chapter Nine 210 Chapter Ten DEEP HUMANISM This enquiry has now moved from asking, Which entities are morally considerable?, to asking, Which entities should a rational morality enfranchise? As explained i n the last chapter, this i s not a merely semantic change. The former question suggests an answer supported by reference to pa r t i cu la r , s i tuated moral p r i n c i p l e s , be l i e f s , and attitudes. The latter question clearly requires that we step back from our current principles, beliefs, and attitudes and, from a position of relative neutrality, ask what moral franchise would be most compatible with moral i ty 's informing o r ien ta t ion and p u r p o s e . In t h i s way, i t brings to the fore a perspective which offers some hope of a broadly acceptable answer. The shift i n focus is summed up by a recast in i t ia l question which asks either, What account of moral scope would i t be best to provide our chi ldren with?, or (if this reference to children is found unhelpful), What account of moral scope would best serve our own ra t ional ly conceived, l ong- t e rm i n t e r e s t s ? Before I b e g i n to outline a possible answer, there are some points to note about what this change of emphasis involves and entails. A TENTATIVE AND CONSERVATIVE PROGRAMME Er r ing On The Side Of Caution It i s important to recognise tha t , i n pa r t , the r e v i s e d i n i t i a l quest ion i s empir ica l : i f a pure ly i n s t r u m e n t a l c o n c e r n for t h i n g s nonhuman would adequately safeguard the environment, then we and our children might do best with a humanist account of moral scope. Even given that some expansion is justif ied, the argument from pragmatism only entails the minimum requirement. However, as argued i n the last Chapter Ten 211 chapter, we do not know what prudence alone can achieve, and there i s reason to er r on the side of caution. Thus, i t i s better for morality to be generous with the moral f r a n c h i s e , and ensu re t h a t the environment is sustained, than to be niggardly and r isk continued environmental damage. In consequence, what we seek, now, i s an account of moral standing which is environmentally conservative — er r ing , i f necessary, on the side of environmental protection — but which can be justified in terms of human welfare. Looking To Two Traditions Because of these l i n k e d concerns fo r human wel l be ing and environmental protection, the account we seek will have a different k i n d of theore t ica l basis from the accoun t s c o n s i d e r e d so fa r — however limited or broad i t proves to be — and i t will be convenient to have a d i s t inc t name for i t . L a r g e l y i n view of the k i n d of rationale which will support the account, I am going to call i t 'deep humanism'. The job of the present chapter may then be viewed as shading i n some of deep humanism's features. Note that 'deep humanism' i s a form of humanism on account of i t s i n i t i a l l y a n t h r o p o c e n t r i c , humanist, concern for human welfare. Moreover, i t i s 'deep' both i n the sense that the account will be a consequence of looking to the environmental foundation of human welfare, and i n the sense that human welfare, i tself i s arguably, the most basic of moral concerns, and the one i n terms of which al l else must eventually be explained. Note, too, that the play on Naess's 'deep ecology' i s (of course) in tended. We sha l l f i n d that despi te t h e i r d i f f e r e n t o r i g i n s (an axiomatic concern for things ecological, and an axiomatic concern for human welfare) deep ecology and deep humanism tend i n a similar Chapter Ten 212 direction. And, because i t i s these separate origins which divide deep ecology from deep humanism, the shared epithet 'deep' also points to the level on which they disagree. It may also be helpful to bear in mind that i n looking to both humanism and environmentalism for i ts inspirat ion, deep humanism i s a product of two conservative outlooks. Humanism is conservative i n a theoretical and moral sense; environmentalism tends to be conservative i n the l i teral sense of 'conservation'. Thus, deep humanism stands firmly within our moral traditions even while threatening to require radical moral change. Limited Ambitions Finally, i t i s important to recognise that I shall not attempt to present a definitive, deep humanist, account of moral scope here. If only because of the empirical issues involved, deep humanism's moral franchise must remain tentative pending broad discussion and debate. (And that is another similarity to deep ecology.) But I shall sketch a programme of moral expansion grounded i n the argument from pragmatism, and I shall point out some problems and issues deep humanism must deal with. A REORGANISED MOVEMENT FROM ECOLOGY Following A Different Route If concern for human wel l -be ing i s the most l i k e l y eng ine of expansion, i t will be best to proceed by different stages than those we t raced ear l ie r . Rather than moving from moral humanism to sentientism and then attempting to cross the mattering gap, there i s reason to expand directly from moral humanism to a deep humanist vitalism and a refurbished movement from ecology. With the case for Chapter Ten 213 the movement from ecology sketched, there will then be additional grounds for insist ing (in the next section) on the rationality of a compassionate, sentientist concern for creatures capable of suffering. From Humanism To Deep Humanist Vitalism (Direct) Pragmatic moral expansion beg ins , t h e n , wi th an a rgument fo r vi ta l ism based on the approach o u t l i n e d i n the l a s t c h a p t e r . As d iscussed a l r e a d y , 1 v i ta l ism en f ranch i se s the i n d i v i d u a l f l o r a and fauna which meet many of humankind's physical and psychological needs. What is more, the ecosystems which humans depend upon, and the biosphere i n general , consis t of a r r angemen t s of these d i s c r e t e 2 entities. Also as discussed already, the argument from pragmatism provides reason to place al l flora and fauna under moral protection because we cannot hope to conf iden t ly p r e d i c t wh ich o rgan i sms humankind, ecosystems, or the biosphere would thr ive without; and because we cannot really t rus t ourselves to act prudently even i f accurate predic t ions were ava i l ab le . T h u s , t h e r e a re g r o u n d s f o r th inking that, at a minimum, our children should possess a vitalist morality which will extend some degree of consideration to al l of the biosphere's l iv ing components. Such a vital ist morality must possess non-anthropocentric moral notions or principles which will support the extended moral franchise; otherwise, as explained p r e v i o u s l y , moral s t a n d i n g co l l apse s i n t o merely ins t rumenta l s ign i f icance . A n o n - a n t h r o p o c e n t r i c bas i s fo r vitalism has already been offered by vitalists; i t i s the fundamental 'biocentric' outlook and attitude which was discussed when vitalism was f i r s t at i ssue . Whether th i s out look and a t t i t u d e s h o u l d be egalitarian (as Taylor recommends) or encompass differences i n status Chapter Ten 214 (as Rolston recommends) i s a question for later. I am only concerned, now, that biocentrism will ground an ascription of moral standing to all individual flora and fauna, and that the argument from pragmatism offers reason why our c h i l d r e n ' s mora l i ty s h o u l d make s u c h an ascription. The Importance Of The Biocentric Attitude In sum, the case for vitalism is as follows: i f morality seeks to promote human welfare, ignorance and cau t i on make i t r a t i o n a l to replace our i n i t i a l l y an th ropocen t r i c moral out look wi th the more conservation oriented biocentric one and ascribe some degree of moral standing (or some degree of in t r ins ic moral worth) to al l flora and fauna. Thus, as described i n the last chapter, we use instrumental reason at one l eve l , the ph i lo soph ica l , to t r a n s c e n d i n s t r u m e n t a l reason at another level, the practical. Of course , i t may be possible to a rgue for v i t a l i s m wi thou t appealing to biocentrism, but doing so offers at least two advantages. F i r s t , the argument from b iocen t r i sm of fe r s an e x i s t i n g and wel l documented case for v i t a l i s t expans ion . Tha t case had an i n i t i a l weakness because no apparent reason was g i v e n fo r a d o p t i n g the biocentric outlook or granting i t moral significance. But the argument from pragmatism obviates that problem. Second, as discussed i n the last chapter, the biocentric outlook and attitude offer the kind of buffer between anthropocentrism and moral expansion which i s needed to prevent an expanded morality being too readily set aside i n favour of pressing human interests. A Metaphysical Issue If vitalism alone will adequately safeguard human welfare, then Chapter Ten 215 the argument from pragmatism entails no further expansion. But given that deep humanism is predicated on 'playing i t safe', and given that further expansion will arguably enhance human security, there is the makings of a case for taking deep humanism beyond vitalism. That means p o s s i b l y e n f r a n c h i s i n g n o n - l i v i n g , n a t u r a l i n d i v i d u a l s ( e . g . mountains), species, and ecosystems (e.g. forests). However, there are metaphysical problems inherent i n enfranchising species and ecosystems because the i r ontological s ta tus i s l e s s t h a n p e l l u c i d : A r e t hey 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 , o r a r e t h e y b e s t t h o u g h t of as col lect ions of na tura l ly o c c u r r i n g e n t i t i e s ? In the l a t t e r case, i t can be a rgued that morality shou ld focus on t h e i r c o n s t i t u e n t individual parts. Thus, i n order to avoid embarrassing questions about what actually constitutes a naturally occurr ing entity rather than a collection of entities, i t i s helpful to think of species and ecosystems (and any other la rge , potential candidates fo r c o n s i d e r a t i o n ) as n a t u r a l l y occuring 'units of organisation'. It i s then a matter of art, rather than metaphysics, which things we identify as units of organisation; depending upon how fine or coarse our focus, units can be found at the 3 subatomic l eve l , the cosmic l e v e l , and anywhere i n be tween. In consequence, the question for deep humanism becomes: Which units of organisa t ion, other than i n d i v i d u a l f l o r a and f auna , does deep humanism requires us to recognise and enfranchise? Natural Infrastructure Clearly, humans — along with al l other l iv ing organisms — depend upon the non- l iv ing, natural infrastructure of the earth to provide a habitat and satisfy needs: i f waters are poisoned or depleted, the Chapter Ten 216 atmosphere changed, or geomorphic features altered, habitats will change and needs may not be met. Therefore, the earth's natural infrastructure must be treated with care by humans. It i s possible that personal and species s e l f - i n t e r e s t , c o u p l e d wi th a v i t a l i s t concern for flora and fauna, will adequately motivate moral agents to protect the natural infrastructure. But given the human procl ivi ty to take chances and magnify our needs (as discussed i n the last chapter), i t seems wise to require that morality grant standing to the physical earth per se or to a sufficiency of i ts components parts. This, i n t u r n , r equ i res e i ther that the b i o c e n t r i c out look and a t t i t u d e be enlarged (so that moral agents have reason to 'respect', 'reverence', and care for both l iv ing and nonliving natural things), or that other j u s t i f y i n g notions and p r inc ip l e s be sough t . I t seems s imples t to enlarge biocentrism, extend our moral vision to 'nature' as a whole, and recognise that some non-l iving units of organisation are more than merely potential means to human ends; they are morally considerable. Can this be done? The Ecocentric Attitude It is apparently the experience of ecosophist philosophers that such an outlook and attitude towards the nonhuman world can be d e v e l o p e d , a n d does d e v e l o p , o u t of an a p p r e c i a t i o n of t h e interconnectedness of things and, perhaps, from personal closeness to things nonhuman. (It i s surely not coincidental that Rolston is an 4 amateur bryologist and that Naess was a climber. ) Given reason why morality should involve an expanded biocentrism, I f ind no reason to doubt that humans can readily acquire both outlook and attitude. But t h e y a r e s u f f i c i e n t l y d i f f e r e n t f rom t h e o u t l o o k a n d a t t i t u d e Chapter Ten 217 discussed by Taylor to warrant t h e i r own name; l e t us c a l l them 'ecocentrism'. It may now be objected that nonliving things lack the inherent, teleological ends which moral agents may 'act on behalf o f and which (it was argued earlier) help to make vitalism more acceptable. But i f there i s a sound anthropocentr ic r a t i ona l e fo r e n f r a n c h i s i n g the natural infrastructure, and i f the ecocentric attitude is achievable, i t i s unclear why that should deter us. There can be no doubt that humans are capable of changing the natural infrastructure i n ways which are injurious to the environment as a whole — just as we are capable of the ecocentric attitude — and that i s deep humanism's main concern. Species: A Contentious Issue Is there i s also a case for ex tend ing the moral f r a n c h i s e to species? Following what was said above about 'units of organisation', the answer must depend upon whether doing so is necessary i n order to protect the non-human world. This promises to become a contentious i s s u e b e c a u s e some ( l i k e R o l s t o n ) t h i n k t h a t ' s p e c i e s ' i s an indispensable category, while others (like Winkler) think that i t will be adequate to recognise the moral significance of present and future 5 individuals . Without attempting a definitive answer, I am going to suggest some reasons for th inking that deep humanism should recognise species i n i t s moral ontology. Bu t I s t r e s s and repea t t h a t what follows is i n no way meant to settle the issue. The Case For When species extinction is discussed, i t i s not jus t the absence of, for example, individual t igers or grasses which is a cause for Chapter Ten 218 concern . The loss to the gene pool i s impor t an t , too, because a species i s a self-replicating genotype.^ Furthermore, a species i s not a static genotype: i t changes over time, in response to environmental factors and through mutation. This i s the way i n which life-forms maintain t he i r adaptation to t h e i r e n v i r o n m e n t a n d , t h u s , t h e i r viabi l i ty . So, a species i s a self-replicating dynamic genotype. From an anthropocentric perspective, such genotypes are valuable because we want to be sure that the world c o n t i n u e s to be popu la t ed by environmentally well-adapted life forms able to meet human physical and psychological needs. We also want to be sure that the gene pool continues to hold and develop useful genetic building blocks. Can we ensure that these conditions are met simply by protecting individual organisms? I am doubtful p r imar i ly because the i n t e r e s t s of i n d i v i d u a l members of species will sometimes conflict with what is required to ensure species v i a b i l i t y . For example, Ro l s ton c i t e s the case of bighorn sheep i n Yellowstone Park who were left to suffer pinkeye 7 disease when medical help was at hand. The disease blinds sheep who then die horrible deaths. The reason for letting the disease and i t s consequences run their course, and not even humanely ki l l ing diseased sheep, was that select ion wi l l t h e n t e n d to p r o d u c e a d isease resistant species which is better adapted to i ts environment. Even a seemingly hopeless sheep might recover and contribute resistance to the gene pool. It might now be argued that a concern for the well being of future individual sheep is sufficient to justify leaving the pinkeyed sheep to their fate; therefore, there is no need to invoke a concern for Chapter Ten 219 species. However, the argument i s p rob lema t i c , p r i m a r i l y because complex and questionable moral reasoning will be required to show that present sheep should be permitted to die horrible deaths for the sake of as yet unborn future sheep. I suggest that, given the importance of a plenitude of viable species, and given deep humanism's emphasis on ' p l ay ing i t safe' , i t i s reasonable to g r a n t t h a t we have an approximate, and, for most purposes, adequate, understanding of the n o t i o n of ' s p e c i e s ' , t h e n a s s i g n s p e c i e s m o r a l s i g n i f i c a n c e i n themselves. Grounding th i s s ta tus i n s i t u a t e d mora l i ty r e q u i r e s further expansion of ecocentrism, but, i f concern for the nonhuman world can be extended to the na tu r a l i n f r a s t r u c t u r e , t h e r e i s no reason to think i t cannot be extended to species. Species (as Rolston points out), do, at least, exhibit developmental tendencies which are similar to the t e l i i of individual life forms. Preferr ing Species Over Individuals One other i ssue wi l l r equ i re a t t en t ion i f deep humanism i s to enfranchise species: p r o v i d i n g a s i g n i f i c a n t measure of moral protection for species will require assigning them a degree of moral significance which sometimes over-r ides individual sentient nonhuman interests. As mentioned i n the above footnote, my sense is that this can be ju s t i f i ed by i n v o k i n g deep humanism's c o n c e r n for human welfare. It seems l ikely that human welfare will best be served by not r i sk ing interference with long-term species viabil i ty even at a high cost to sentient individuals . This, then, places a question mark over the role of sentientist compassion i n a deep humanist ethic, and that is an issue I shall t u rn to shortly. Chapter Ten 220 Ecosystems Finally, there is the question whether deep humanism should also extend considera t ion to at least some ecosys tems . Once a g a i n , t h e answer must depend upon whether human welfare would be adequately protected without doing so. There i s no obvious reason to think that ecosystems, and, thus, human welfare, cannot be protected by concern for the individuals and species they contain, but there is reason to think that a concern for ecosystems per se would focus concern where i t might do most good, and where i t sometimes already rests. As an example, consider the old g r o w t h r a i n f o r e s t i n B r i t i s h Columbia's Clayquot Sound. Environmentalists want the forest preserved i n i ts entirety, as a complete ecosystem. The case for preservation is arguably stronger when the forest i s viewed as a whole because, as an ecosystem, i t i s indisputably unique and endangered. Although many of the individuals and species which comprise the forest are replicated elsewhere, that particular ecological arrangement i s not replicated. Furthermore, i f we do focus on the forest as an ecosystem, rather than only considering the l i v ing individuals and the species which comprise i t , we quickly see that many individuals can be sacrificed to human need without harming the system. As proponents of ecoforestry point out, flora and fauna can be removed according to patterns which replicate natural attrit ion and allow ful l replacement. There i s also a t h i rd point to note when deliberating the moral status of ecosystems: How do we generally think of a forest? Most of us, I suggest, do not conceive of a forest as a collection of discrete individuals so much as a single, naturally bounded entity, or unit of organisa t ion. I t i s reasonable tha t moral t h i n k i n g s h o u l d p a r a l l e l Chapter Ten 221 th is . Furthermore, because i t i s common to conceive of ecosystems l ike forests as something whole in themselves, and because i t i s common to ascribe inherent value to them, expanding ecocentrism to encompass such systems may well be found more ' i n t u i t i v e l y ' a t t r a c t i v e then 9 either of the two expansions discussed above. A Tentative Moral Franchise To conclude th i s ske tch of deep humanism's r e v i s i o n of the movement from ecology, I urge that although there may be no one clear account of moral scope already inherent i n received morality, moral expansion beyond the mattering gap i s , apparently, well supported by morality's informing pursui t of human well being. In particular, deep humanism's intertwined concerns for human and environmental welfare have the potent ial to jus t i fy v i t a l i sm ' s p r e v i o u s l y u n s u p p o r t e d biocentric attitude and show why a vitalist ethic i s something our children will need and something which should generally be part of rational morality. Furthermore, deep humanism's twin concerns also offer possible reason for going further and enfranchising natural infrastructure, species, and at least some ecosystems. A PLACE. AND A ROLE. FOR COMPASSION Where Does Compassion Come In? The above conclusions could stand for Part Four of this enquiry as a whole, but to end discussion here would be unsatisfactory. There are a number of issues which should, at least, be recognised as needing further attention if , and when, deep humanism is more fully developed. Probably chief amongst these is the question mark hanging over the relationship between deep humanism and sentientism. Although many expansionists — including myself — do wish to establish grounds for Chapter Ten 222 treating sentient nonhumans with considerably more compassion than is current ly the case, deep humanism is seemingly at odds with that desire i f wild sheep must be left to s u f f e r the consequences of pinkeye. On the other hand, i f morality i s primarily concerned to ensure that nonhumans not only thr ive , but continue to evolve and develop so as to best f i t t he i r e n v i r o n m e n t a l n i c h e s , i t i s not obvious where sentientist compassion might come i n . It has even been argued that there is a fundamental incompatibility between sentientist compassion and environmentalism, and that those who are concerned with 'animal r ights ' cannot consistently be environmentalists as w e l l . 1 0 However, there is reason to think that this i s not the case, and that deep humanism should seek to balance i t s environmental emphasis with more traditional sentientist concerns. A Tense, But Necessary Relationship To begin with, there is no reason why an environmentally focussed ethic cannot abjure causing nonhuman suffering while s t i l l teaching that compassionate in t e rven t ion and the at tempt to amel iora te suffering is sometimes misgu ided . 1 1 Thus, deep humanism can hold, with sentientism, that i t i s , for example, wrong to h u n t whales , while agreeing with deep environmentalists that i t is wrong to interfere when a whale i s beached. Deep humanism also has reason to dist inguish between wild and domesticated c r e a t u r e s because the case for nonin tervent ion only applies to w i ld t h i n g s s u b j e c t to n a t u r a l 12 evolution. Humans oversee the reproduction of domesticated creatures and manipulate t he i r genotypes; t h e r e f o r e , l i t t l e w i l l g e n e r a l l y be gained by withholding medical treatment or euthanasia. In consequence, deep humanism has no need to quarrel with sentientism's desire to Chapter Ten 223 minimise the suffering inflicted on domesticated nonhumans. A Broadly Compassionate Ecological Attitude In sum, then, an environmental ethic can coexist with sentientist compassion. Al though there a lways w i l l be some t e n s i o n between environmental concerns and sentientist ones, there is no reason to t h ink that the tens ion invo lves a c o n t r a d i c t i o n , o r t h a t i t i s something morality cannot accommodate. However , t h i s i s s t i l l no t rea l ly enough for those of us who want to e n s u r e t h a t s e n t i e n t nonhumans are protected against human abuse. Ideally, we want to know that there is a deep humanist rationale for sentientism which will explain why ecosophism should actively embrace sentientist compassion and place value on nonhuman we l l -be ing and the s a t i s f a c t i o n of nonhuman interests. In other words, reason needs to be shown why deep humanism's ecological attitude should be a broadly compassionate and sent ient is t ecological a t t i tude. I s h a l l b r i e f l y t r y to s u g g e s t how this might be done. Deep Humanism's Sentientist Rationale The f i rs t th ing to note i s that deep humanism has no reason to reject soft sentientism's 'argument from generousity'. Remember that, following Singer, what I called 'soft sentientism' urges that because morality a lready enfranchises many humans who have no c la im to consideration other than sentience and genetic humanity, impartiality and consistency require extending similar consideration to equally sentient nonhumans. This was never a totally conclusive argument because, as discussed earlier, humanists remain free to reject i t , and deep humanism cannot avail i tself of the additional support offered by 13 utilitarianism. However, this simple appeal remains a powerful one Chapter Ten 224 for many. What i s more, deep humanism is able to strengthen i t . If the deep humanist case for vitalism is granted, then there is l i t t l e left to gain by cont inued r e s i s t a n c e to s e n t i e n t i s m because moral expansion has already occurred. Furthermore, once ecocentrism (or, more conservatively, biocentrism) becomes part of morality, any moral significance granted to pleasures and pains must apply wherever they occur, unless some significant difference can be shown between them. As argued when sentientism was f i rs t at issue, i t i s hard to conceive of such a difference. In consequence, the ecocentrism (or biocentrism) endorsed by deep humanism makes i t hard to deny the moral importance of a l l pleasures and pains, much as the util i tarian appeal 14 to impartiality does. The second t h i n g to note i s tha t deep humanism also o f fe r s independent reasons of i t s own for making sentientist compassion part of morali ty. The ecocentrism (or b iocen t r i sm) wh ich i s i n t e g r a l to deep humanism must be learned and deve loped o v e r t ime as an alternative to the seemingly more 'natural ' anthropocentric outlook and at t i tude. Pa r t i cu l a r ly i n c h i l d r e n , t h a t deve lopment seems to involve becoming gradually aware of the interconnectedness of l iv ing t h ings and l ea rn ing empathy for o the r l i f e forms and n a t u r a l processes. Concern for, and empathy with, the pleasures, pains, and felt interests shared by humans and sentient nonhumans is an obvious, 15 and poss ib ly necessary, step i n t h i s p r o c e s s . F u r t h e r m o r e , a compassionate desire to avoid br inging suffering to sentient nonhumans will often be added reason to eschew environmental damage. Thus, s e n t i e n t i s t c o m p a s s i o n w i l l a c t i v e l y f o r w a r d deep h u m a n i s m ' s environmental agenda so long as the need to allow 'nature to take i ts Chapter Ten 225 course' is also recognised. A Note On Population (And Economic) Growth As well as implications for the way humans should treat sentient nonhumans, a compassionate deep humanism also has quiet specific implications regarding human population growth. As has been well publicised for many years now, the growth i n human numbers has frightening environmental implications. Whatever may, or may not, be the t ru th of the charge that 'overconsumption' i n the industrial ised nations should be our primary worry, population growth, as well as economic g r o w t h , 1 6 can hardly fai l to be on a course which intersects with imminent disaster. Common sense tells us that the environment only has a finite car ry ing capacity and that a species which keeps increasing the speed at which i ts population doubles i s i n desperate 17 trouble. Obviously, something must be done, and i t i s becoming apparent that, as well as changing our patterns of economic act ivi ty, there are variables which can be manipulated to affect the b i r th rate. A basic pr imary educat ion for g i r l s appears to lower the b i r t h r a t e , and giving young women a secondary education appears to lower i t even further. So, too, does making the means of b i r th control readily, but 18 vo lun t a r i l y , avai lable to women. The e v i d e n c e from our own, affluent, society i s that material prosperity also tends to dr ive down the b i r th rate. Of course, any ethic concerned with human welfare will offer reason to support the provision of education and family planning for women, and i t will also entail that the lot of the world's poor should be improved . But i t i s impor t an t to r e c o g n i s e t h a t s u c h humanitarian efforts are also en ta i l ed by e n v i r o n m e n t a l c o n c e r n , Chapter Ten 226 contrary to the perception that radical environmentalism must go hand 19 i n hand with misanthropy. It must also be noted that i f educating females, providing family planning, and reducing poverty proves not to be enough to check our numbers, then deep humanism's twin concerns for human and environmental well being offer reason to seek sensitive and compassionate means to determine the optimal human population size, followed by sensitive and compassionate measures to achieve i t . Deep humanism, jus t l ike human welfare, i s incompatible with continuous growth. CONFLICT AND OTHER CONSEQUENCES A Problem Which Grows With The Moral Franchise The most p r e s s ing , outs tanding i s s u e af te r s e n t i e n t i s m i s the problem of moral conflict. As the moral franchise increases, so, too, does the potential for conflict between perceived human interests and other considerable ent i t ies . A l t h o u g h I canno t dea l , he re , w i th a l l the i ssues associated with conf l i c t i n a r a d i c a l l y expanded moral franchise, I do want to sketch two different approaches to conflict and briefly consider their relative merits. The Possibili ty Of Moral Ranking One approach i s to accord r e l a t i v e l y f i x e d degrees of moral standing to di f ferent k inds of en t i ty , t h e n use those degrees of 20 standing as a guide when conflict occurs. Cri ter ia will be needed according to which to assign degrees of standing, and these might be provided, i n part, by deep humanism's twin concerns for human and environmental well being. Thus, for example, the smallpox v i rus might be accorded very low standing on the grounds that i t can cause considerable human suffering and i t s loss would make l i t t le overall Chapter Ten 227 difference to the biosphere. By contrast, a bacterium which makes a major contribution to the health of the soil might be accorded a high degree of s t and ing , so might a major mamallian p r e d a t o r whose ecological niche cannot otherwise be easily f i l led. Furthermore, the guiding concern for human well being will arguably entail that humans generally, but perhaps not always, have a higher degree of standing than other kinds of entity. A Problematic (And Therefore Partial) Solution But moral ranking i s a problematic enterprise for a number of reasons. F i rs t , the contribution made to human and environmental well being i s a rguably not, i n i t se l f , a s u f f i c i e n t measure of moral s igni f icance , because deep humanism also r e c o g n i s e s the moral importance of nonhuman, sentient interests. For completeness, some way is needed to place sentient interests on a scale with environmental significance. At present, i t i s unclear how this should be done, but deep humanism i s l i k e l y to r e q u i r e t h a t p r e s s i n g e n v i r o n m e n t a l concerns generally come f irs t . The problem of achieving an acceptable balance between environmental concerns and sentient interests should not be under-estimated. A second problem is that, as argued i n the last chapter, our understanding of the consequences of environmental interference is necessarily limited, and we must be wary of assuming that any entity i s dispensable. Moreover, a t h i rd problem is that there are going to be so many very different kinds of considerable entity that, given our l imited unders tand ing of the i r eco log ica l ro l e and s i g n i f i c a n c e , i t will probably not be possible to rank some of them with any confidence at a l l . Fourth, and final ly, there are going to be problems t r y i n g to Chapter Ten 228 assign a specific rank to entities independently of the context within which a conflict occurs. For example, i f the su rv iva l of an entire species was at stake, i t might well be judged better to sacrifice even highly rated human interests. It might now seem that the egalitarianism recommended by some 21 philosophers i s a more attractive alternative than moral ranking. However, not only does this leave the problem of conflict untouched, i t i s contrary to our usual th inking to claim that, for example, the smallpox v i rus i s as morally important as a bacterium which promotes healthy soi l . Furthermore, this hardly seems to make sense from an ecological view. Some ranking i s surely both sensible and possible. What seems l i k e l y i s that moral r a n k i n g alone canno t of fer a suff ic ient solut ion to the conf l i c t t h r e a t e n e d by moral e x p a n s i o n beyond the mattering gap. A More Deeply Ecological Approach An alternative approach to conflict i s to t r y to l ive and act i n ways which will reduce the need to make difficult choices, at least i n 22 regard to the environment. If humankind's 'environmental footprint' i s lessened, and i f we seek ways of s a t i s f y i n g ou r needs wh ich harmonise with natural cycles of attrit ion and replacement, then there w i l l be l e s s c o n f l i c t b e t w e e n p e r c e i v e d human i n t e r e s t s a n d environmental imperatives. But for this approach to be effective, we will probably need to make profound changes i n the ways we think, view the world, and l ive . It would certainly help matters i f morality not only moved towards a biocentric, and possibly ecocentric, attitude, but also towards the 23 expanded sense of 'self' advocated by deep ecologists l ike Fox. It Chapter Ten 229 will then become more a matter of personal inclination to preserve the environment and less a matter of moral obligation. There will be a 'natural ' tendency to act with environmental caution without worrying too much about the immediately personal interests which are being sacrificed. And there will be greater personal motivation to l ive i n a manner which reduces humankind's overall environmental impact. In sum, ra ther than t r y i n g to dea l w i th moral c o n f l i c t by specifying the precise rules of engagement, morality can, once again, e r r on the side of caution. It can foster a basic attitude which will lead moral agents to t r y to avoid conflict whenever possible and, when conflict does occur, seek to resolve i t i n favour of the environment. Because t h i s i s an important , but c o n t r o v e r s i a l po in t (and i s , I recognise, open to charges of romanticism and utopianism), here i s a more mundane analogy which may help to make the case. The Need To Teach Broad Attitudes A c h i l d ' s education might be e n t i r e l y g i v e n o v e r to t e a c h i n g particular ski l l s and knowledge, i n the belief that we are teaching exactly what will be needed i n adu