Moral Agency

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 6-1-2021


My paper discusses the philosophical issue of animals and ethics. The question that I explore involves the moral status of humans and if humans should receive a higher moral status than other animals. Peter Singer, a moral philosopher, attacks the views of those who wish to give the interests of animals less weight than the interests of human beings. He advocates for a principle known as the equal consideration of interests. This principle states that one should give equal weight in one’s moral decision-making to the like interests of all those affected by one’s actions. Furthermore, the capacity of suffering/pain and enjoyment is the only morally relevant property for equal consideration. If one accepts the principle of equal consideration, then the interests of non-human animals will sometimes be greater than the interests of human beings. For example, humans should not eat meat because the suffering that animals experience from factory farms outweighs the pain we feel from not eating meat. He uses two arguments to support his principle of equal consideration of interests: the argument from marginal cases and the sophisticated inegalitarian argument. I object to Singer’s reasoning with the argument from species normality. This response contends that a being’s moral status depends not on the capacities and abilities he does have but on the capacities and abilities typical for the members of his species. In the end, I argue that the capacity for moral agency should grant all human beings an equal and higher moral status than other non-human animals.


Winner of the 2021 Prindle Prize for Ethics for a Thesis