Do Humans Have Moral Obligations to Animals

947 Words4 Pages
According to Mary Midgley, a renowned British moral philosopher, humans do indeed have moral duties towards animals. In her article, “Is a Dolphin a Person,” she argues for a more flexible concept of moral personhood that extends to animals in order for humans to understand that they too are also morally important. She begins by writing about the generally accepted view of what a person is and goes on to examine Kant’s black and white antithesis between person and things. She states Kant does not present a satisfactory moral theory as his theory skims over animals while fully elaborating on things, which can properly be used as means to human ends in a way in which people cannot. (Midgley p. 152) In other words, Kant does not believe animals to be persons, but they are not exactly things or objects. So the question remains, where exactly do animals stand? Since it is apparent that humans do regard animals as more than mundane objects and that it is evident that animals do display certain levels of intelligence and sentience, I will argue that humans indeed have an irrevocable moral obligation to animals. First of all, let’s start with defining what a human person really is, I believe that a human person is a person if they match the following criteria. They must be a conscious being as in they must be able to experience things subjectively, secondly, they must be self-aware, and thirdly, they must display a certain degree of intelligence, (Anderson). If only one criteria of the given criteria is matched, it is evident that they are not really a person. It is apparent that snakes are intelligent creatures, but they most definitely are not conscious beings as they do not identify themselves, and they are not self-aware as if they are shown a mirror, they do not know that they are looking at a reflection, therefore, no one considers a snake a person. So, what
Open Document