Moral Status Of Animals Essay

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In this essay, I shall contend that there are two components which are key to determining the moral status of animals – both human and non-human. Firstly, sentience, which is the capacity to experience things such as pain and pleasure. And Secondly, self-consciousness, which is having the mental ability to conceive of oneself as a distinct, individual entity, who existed in the past and who will exist in the future. It is these two capacities, and the distinction between them, that are significant when considering the moral status of an animal. Importantly, this cuts across species lines, and does not, due to fact of species membership, automatically accord humans a higher moral status over all other species of animal. This view isn't inherently interested in species, instead, in determining moral status, it focuses on whether or not an individual holds capacities of sentience and self-consciousness, and to what degree (Singer 2000: 320).…show more content…
By holding sentience and self-consciousness as key to determining moral status, we are left with a 'moral continuum', upon which there will be cases where some non-human animals will require equal moral status with some humans, and certain circumstances in which they will be deserving of even greater moral status than some humans. I will argue for this continuum view, where species membership is not the factor deciding an animal's moral status, and which removes any moralistic dividing line between humans and non-human
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