Moral responsiveness and nonhuman animals a challenge to kantian morality

Serrin Rutledge-Prior*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    The thesis of this paper is that certain nonhuman animals could be conceived of as capable of moral motivation and subsequent moral behavior, with the appropriate behavioral, psychological and cognitive evidence. I argue that a certain notion of morality-morality as the process of conscious, reasoned deliberation over explicit moral concepts-is excessively exclusionary, and that such a notion describes one mode of moral cognition, but not, as others have argued, morality's essence. Instead, morality and moral behaviors could be viewed as natural phenomena that arose as a means by which social species could better cohere and survive, and one that consists of a spectrum of behaviors. Ultimately, I argue that the aforementioned notion of moral cognition has unfairly worked to exclude (certain) nonhuman animals from the sphere of morality as beings capable of moral behavior, and that instead we should be looking at moral behavior as a function of what I call 'moral responsiveness'.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)45-76
    Number of pages32
    JournalEthics and the Environment
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


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