Essay Philosophical Ethics

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The most common way of understanding it is to suggest that there are distinctly human capacities and it is on the basis of these capacities that humans have moral status and other animals do not.

But which capacities mark out all and only humans as the kinds of beings that can be wronged?

For some, answering this question will enable us to better understand the nature of human beings and the proper scope of our moral obligations.

Some argue that there is an answer that can distinguish humans from the rest of the natural world.

One might respond that it is not membership in a biological category that matters morally, but rather the social meaning of those categories, meanings that structure not only the institutions we operate within, but how we conceptualize ourselves and our world.

Humans have developed moral systems as well as a wide range of other valuable practices, and by creating these systems, we separate the human from the rest of the animal kingdom.

In contrast to this view, an increasing number of philosophers have argued that while humans are different in a variety of ways from each other and other animals, these differences do not provide a philosophical defense for denying non-human animals moral consideration.

What the basis of moral consideration is and what it amounts to has been the source of much disagreement.

Less solitary animals, such as chimpanzees, baboons, wolves, and elephants maintain extended family units built upon complex individual relationships, for long periods of time.

Meerkats in the Kalahari desert are known to sacrifice their own safety by staying with sick or injured family members so that the fatally ill will not die alone.


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