"'We share this world with fellow creatures.' What exactly does this mean, and what are our obligations to the other animals that live in the world with and among us? Kristine Korsgaard takes up these questions with insight, clarity, and philosophical ingenuity. Among other strengths, she's able to evaluate the differences and similarities of human and non-human cognition without privileging human-centric modes of consciousness, while still arguing convincingly for the respect and dignity of non-human animals. Despite the complexity of the author's claims, Fellow Creatures is written with a general audience in mind, and Korsgaard is able to communicate her ideas in an especially accessible way. Warning: this book may turn you into a vegetarian."
Publisher Oxford University Press, USA
Publication Date 2020-01-20
Section Philosophy / All Staff Suggestions / Nonfiction Suggestions / Melissa S.
Christine M. Korsgaard presents a compelling new view of humans' moral relationships to the other animals. She defends the claim that we are obligated to treat all sentient beings as what Kant called "ends-in-themselves". Drawing on a theory of the good derived from Aristotle, she offers an explanation of why animals are the sorts of beings for whom things can be good or bad. She then turns to Kant's argument for the value of humanity to show that rationality commits us to claiming the standing of ends-in-ourselves, in two senses. Kant argued that as autonomous beings, we claim to be ends-in-ourselves when we claim the standing to make laws for ourselves and each other. Korsgaard argues that as beings who have a good, we also claim to be ends-in-ourselves when we take the things that are good for us to be good absolutely and so worthy of pursuit. The first claim commits us to joining with other autonomous beings in relations of moral reciprocity. The second claim commits us to treating the good of every sentient creature as something of absolute importance. Korsgaard argues that human beings are not more important than the other animals, that our moral nature does not make us superior to the other animals, and that our unique capacities do not make us better off than the other animals. She criticizes the "marginal cases" argument and advances a new view of moral standing as attaching to the atemporal subjects of lives. She criticizes Kant's own view that our duties to animals are indirect, and offers a non-utilitarian account of the relation between pleasure and the good. She also addresses a number of directly practical questions: whether we have the right to eat animals, experiment on them, make them work for us and fight in our wars, and keep them as pets; and how to understand the wrong that we do when we cause a species to go extinct.