Does Being Human Matter Morally? Five Correctives to the Speciesism Debate

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Jeroen Hopster

Subject: Arts & Humanities, Philosophy

Keywords: speciesism; intuition; evolutionary debunking arguments; experimental philosophy; species-egalitarianism; conservation; singer; williams; kagan; jacquet

This article argues for five correctives to the current ethical debate about speciesism, and proposes normative, conceptual, methodological and experimental avenues to move this debate forward. Firstly, it clarifies the Principle of Equal Consideration of Interests and points out limitations of its scope. Secondly, it disambiguates between ‘favouritist’ and ‘species-relative’ views about moral treatment. Thirdly, it argues that not all moral intuitions about speciesism should be given equal weight. Fourthly, it emphasizes the importance of empirical research to corroborate statements about ‘folk speciesism’. Fifthly, it disambiguates between the moral significance of species and the moral status of their individual members. For each of these issues, it is shown that they have either been overlooked, or been given inapt treatment, in recent contributions to the debate. Building on the correctives, new directions are proposed for ethical inquiry into the moral relevance of species and species membership.

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