Do animals have a bad life?
Journal of Animal Ethics
University of Illinois Press
© 2018 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
It has been argued that, due to our commitment to distributive justice and fairness, we have a moral obligation towards animals to enhance, or “uplift”, them to quasi-human status, so that they, too, can enjoy all the intellectual, social and cultural goods that humans are capable of enjoying. In this paper I look at the underlying assumption that the life of an animal can never be as good as that of a human (can be), not because of any external circumstances that may be changed, but simply because the restrictions imposed on it by its animal nature. This assump-tion is only plausible if there are objective goods that animals have no access to. Yet even if there are objective goods, they are best understood as species-relative, so that each kind of animal has its own set of goods, which are determined by its specific nature. It follows that we have no moral obligation to uplift animals on the grounds that their life is necessarily worse than ours.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Project MUSE via the URL in this record.
Vol. 8 (1), pp. 50-61.