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Can Animals Be Moral? - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Can Animals Be Moral?

Mark Rowlands


The idea that animals can act morally—can act for moral reasons—has been almost universally rejected by philosophers and scientists alike. According to tradition, while animals may be objects of moral concern, they cannot be regarded as subjects of moral motivation. This book argues against the traditional view. Animals can act for moral reasons—at least there are no compelling reasons for supposing that that they can’t. Animals can act on the basis of moral emotions—emotions that possess moral content—and these emotions provide reasons for their actions. Animals can, in this sense, be moral s ... More

Keywords: animals, action, reasons, emotions, agency, cognitive ethology, moral psychology

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2012 Print ISBN-13: 9780199842001
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199842001.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Mark Rowlands, author
University of Miami