Animals, Rights and Reason in Plutarch and Modern Ethics by Stephen T. Newmyer

By Stephen T. Newmyer

This groundbreaking quantity explores Plutarch's designated survival within the argument that animals are rational and sentient, and that we, as people, needs to take detect in their interests.

Exploring Plutarch's 3 animal-related treatises, in addition to passages from his moral treatises, Stephen Newmyer examines arguments that, strikingly, foreshadow these present in the works of such sought after animal rights philosophers as Peter Singer and Tom Regan.

Unique in viewing Plutarch’s critiques not just within the context of old philosophical and moral via, but in addition as an alternative within the historical past of animal rights hypothesis, Animals Rights and Reasons issues out how remarkably Plutarch differs from such anti-animal thinkers because the Stoics.

Classicists, philosophers, animal-welfare scholars and readers will all locate this booklet a useful and informative addition to their reading.

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77 In the thinking of the Stoics and of their modern philosophical descendants, only moral agents fall within the scope of human moral consideration. The question of moral agency has taken on considerable importance in the thought of some prominent animal rights philosophers. Tom Regan agrees with the Stoics that animals are not moral agents and cannot therefore do right or wrong, but the conclusion he draws from this position differs radically from that implicit in Stoic doctrine. Because animals cannot act morally, the Stoics conclude, human beings have the right to use them as they see fit since, after all, moral discourse with them is precluded by their irrationality.

Yet this is precisely the argument that Autobulus makes in reply to Soclarus as he charges that humans have, through their love of hunting, become inured to animal suffering and have even come to delight in the slaughter and death involved (α μα κα τρα ματα ζ ων μ δυσχερα νειν λλ χα ρειν σφαττομ νοις κα ποθν σκουσιν , De sollertia animalium 959D). 94 Sorabji makes the interesting comment that Plutarch believed that humans may owe a debt of benevolence to animals even if they cannot be said to owe them a debt of justice.

In the course of a discussion of syllogistic thinking, he cites a number of instances of the operation of such thinking in humans. ” Aristotle elaborates this example by noting that animals are impelled to movement and action by a similar desire, which comes about through sensation or imagination and thought (ο τως μ ν ο ν π τ κινε σθαι κα πρ ττειν τ ζ α ρμ σι . . τα της δ γινομ νης δι’ α σθ σεως δι φαντασ ας κα νο σεως , 701a33–36). Aristotle may mean here that, if an animal can draw conclusions from observing its surroundings, and act upon this observation, it can engage in a form of reasoning, although one must keep in mind the possibility that Aristotle believed that an animal could act on its observation without intervening rational action.

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