Abstract

It has been argued that, due to our commitment to distributive justice and fairness, we have a moral obligation toward animals to enhance, or “uplift,” them to quasihuman status, so that they, too, can enjoy all the intellectual, social, and cultural goods that humans are capable of enjoying. In this article, I look at the underlying assumption that the life of an animal can never be as good as that of a human (can be), not because of any external circumstances that may be changed, but simply because of the restrictions imposed on him by his animal nature. This assumption is only plausible if there are objective goods that animals have no access to. Yet even if there are objective goods, they are best understood as species-relative, so that each kind of animal has its own set of goods, which are determined by its specific nature. It follows that we have no moral obligation to uplift animals on the grounds that their life is necessarily worse than ours.

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