Abstract

Animals are often presumed to lack moral agency insofar as they lack the capacities for reflection or the ability to understand their motivating reasons for acting. In this paper, I argue that animals are in some cases morally responsible. First, I outline conditions of moral action, drawing from a quality of will account of moral responsibility. Second, I review recent empirical research on the capacities needed for moral action in humans and show that animals also have such capacities. I conclude that though it may be difficult to engage in the practice of holding animals morally responsible, given the communication barrier and lack of mutual understanding, some animals nevertheless act in ways for which they are morally responsible.

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