Animal Ethics and the Autonomous Animal Self by Natalie Thomas

By Natalie Thomas

This booklet offers a thorough and intuitive argument opposed to the proposal that intentional motion, organisation and autonomy are beneficial properties belonging simply to people. utilizing facts from study into the minds of non-human animals, it explores the ways that animals might be understood as people who are conscious of themselves, and the resultant foundation of our ethical responsibilities in the direction of them.

the 1st a part of this ebook argues for a perception of corporation in animals that admits to levels between participants and throughout species. It explores self-awareness and its numerous degrees of complexity which rely on an animals’ different psychological capacities. the writer deals an summary of a few verified theories in animal ethics together with these of Peter Singer, Tom Regan, Bernard Rollin and Lori Gruen, and the methods those theories serve to increase ethical attention in the direction of animals in line with a number of capacities that either animals and people have in universal. The booklet concludes through difficult conventional Kantian notions of rationality and what it ability to be an self reliant person, and discussing the issues that also stay within the learn of animal ethics.

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He does not deny that humans are able to act on the basis of reasons that are unavailable to animals, since humans are able to reflect on and rationally evaluate their moral motivations, and they are able to create abstract principles that allow them to judge their own actions and to communicate these principles to others (2012, p. 37). However, he argues that animals are moral subjects as they can be motivated to act by moral considerations, and these considerations take the form of morally laden emotions such as sympathy, compassion, tolerance, patience, indifference, anger, malice, and spite.

In this chapter I am arguing that animals are acting agents, in ways that are both minimal and rich, depending on the complexity of beliefs and concepts possessed by individual animals. The ability to act freely, in accordance with one’s beliefs and desires, and to achieve certain goals, is what grounds the importance of autonomy in terms of respecting that freedom to act. However, if some animals are able to act based on moral reasons, it would mean that some animals are agents in a richer sense still, thus 2 Animals as Agents 29 strengthening the argument that some animals are acting, autonomous agents.

Looking at research on young human children however, 32 Animal Ethics and the Autonomous Animal Self it is possible to see that even without the ability for full self-reflection, control over one’s actions in a goal-directed manner can occur in children as young as two months. She argues that many non-human animals also develop such abilities at a young age as part of what is necessary for survival, and refers to de Waal’s (2009) view that empathy is multilayered, and progresses from simple emotional contagion to the targeted helping of others, which requires a sense of self that allows one to grasp others’ points of view.

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