Immanuel Kant on Duty towards Non-Human Animals: A Critical Evaluation

Authors : Amadi, Cornelius Chukwudi; Idoniboye, Omiete; Jaja, Ibifuro Robert

Volume/Issue : Volume 7 - 2022, Issue 2 - February

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This work examines Kant’s arguments for duty towards non-human animals. In The Metaphysics of Morals,Kant argues that human animals do not direct duties to non-human animals. This is because non-human animal lack the rational capacity and self-consciousness that is characteristic of human animals. Kant argues that only human animals are ends in themselves, have autonomy, and are worthy of respect; everything else are instrumentally valuable. Human beings are intrinsically valuable. Therefore, we only have indirect duties to animals, insofar as our treatment of animals affects our treatment of human animals. Through the method of textual analysis, this study argues that Kant’s theory does not understand what it means to treat animals badly. He fails to recognize the intuitive notion that treating animals wrongly transgresses duties we owe to those animals. Second, we must also take into consideration the fact that babies and the comatose lack reason and autonomy and some other people with serve mental disorder. The question is: Can we treat them as means to an end, or do we ascribe moral obligation to them? If the answer is in the affirmative and yet, these human beings do not have different psychological capacities from certain nonhuman animals, then to deny those non-human animals same moral consideration would be contradictory. This study concludes that Kantianism can be reformed togive room for direct duties to animals and especially duty to promote animal welfare without unduly compromising its core theoretical commitments, especially its commitments concerning the source and nature of our duties toward human animals.

Keywords : Human/Non-human Animals, Categorical Imperative, Maxim, Specism.


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