The point of the foregoing was to bring home the point that to discriminate between A and B is notinherently wrong. Discrimination is only wrong when it’s arbitrary. If there’s a difference between A andB, and that difference is relevant to the task at hand, then it’s okay to exclude A and not B. For instance,it is generally wrong to discriminate against people with disabilities, blindness for instance. But if a blindperson is applying for a position as an air traffic controller, then it’s okay to exclude A from considerationfor the position. That’s because blindness is a morally relevant feature in performing the job of an airtraffic controller. 29
Like Kant, Steinbock claims that our capacity to reason is morally relevant to discriminating againstnonhuman animals. In other words, because we are intelligent and nonhuman animals are not, we havea higher moral status than animals. There is a relevant feature, intelligence, that we possess and animalslack that justifies treating nonhuman animals in ways that we would never treat our fellow humans. Here Steinbock is calling premise  into question, and therefore questioning the move from  to . Ifspeciesism is not morally wrong, then we don’t have to consider the interests of nonhuman animals onpar with human animals. As Steinbock notes, her point is that there are “certain capacities, which seemto be unique to human beings, entitle their possessors to a privileged position in the moral community.”We have the capacity to reason and hence to be morally accountable, animals do not. And this capacityentitles us to a privileged position in the moral community. Let us turn now to an objection to which Steinbock’s account is open, the problem of marginal cases. Aswe have already seen, Steinbock argues that nonhuman animals lack full moral status because they lackthe capacity to reason. The problem of marginal cases is the problem of dealing with human beings whoalso lack the capacity to reason—newborns, people who are comatose, and so forth.This objection is raised most concisely by Alastair Norcross.One of the most serious challenges to this defense of the traditional view involves aconsideration of what philosophers refer to as ‘marginal cases.’ Whatever kind and level ofrationality is selected as justifying the attribution of superior moral status to humans will eitherbe lacking in some humans or present in some animals. To take one of the most commonly-suggested features, many humans are incapable of engaging in moral reflection. For some, thisincapacity is temporary, as is the case with infants, or the temporarily cognitively disabled.Others who once had the capacity may have permanently lost it, as is the case with the severelysenile or the irreversibly comatose. Still others never had and never will have the capacity, as isthe case with the severely mentally disabled. If we base our claims for the moral superiority ofhumans over animals on the attribution of such capacities, won’t we have to exclude manyhumans? Won’t we then be forced to the claim that there is at least as much moral reason to
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