Cottingham_Kant_Animals - (from: Western Philosophy; An...

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(from: Western Philosophy ; An Anthology , edited by John Cottingham, Blackwell, 1996) (Immanuel Kant, Einer Vorlesung über Ethik [1775—80], ed. G. Gerhardt (Frankfurt: Fischer, 1990), Part B, section IX. Translated by John Cottingham. The German text is a compilation from notes of Kant’s lectures taken by T. F. Brauer, G. Kutzner and C. Mongrovius. The complete work is available in English as Lectures on Ethics , trans. L. Infield (London: Methuen, 1930). For the principle of utility, or the greatest happiness of the greatest number, see above, Part VII, extract 6) The Status of Non-human Animals Immanuel Kant, Lectures on Ethics (p. 441) Most applied ethics concerns how human beings should treat each other. But the radical reforming philosopher Jeremy Bentham, taking the greatest happiness principle as the foundation of ethics,’ argued that there was no good reason for excluding the pleasures and pains of animals from the ethical calculus. What matters, he famously declared, is not whether they can reason or talk, but whether they can suffer ( Principles of Morals and Legislation [1789], ch. xvii, section 1). A very different line was taken by the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant, writing about the same time as Bentham. Basing his ethics on the principle of ‘respect for persons,’ Kant argued that only rational and autonomous agents could be bearers of moral worth—only they had the status of ‘ends in themselves’ (see Part VII, extract 5, above). In the following extract, Kant applies this principle to the question of whether we have duties to nonhuman animals. Since animals are not self-conscious, Kant suggests, they cannot qualify as self- determining agents, and hence cannot be ‘ends in themselves’. So while it is utterly impermissible to use a human being merely as a means to an end, this is precisely what we may do when dealing with animals: ‘they are there only as a means to an end’.
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This note was uploaded on 11/22/2011 for the course PHILOSOPHY 101 taught by Professor Simonoswitch during the Spring '10 term at Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

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Cottingham_Kant_Animals - (from: Western Philosophy; An...

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