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John RawlsDebating the Major Questions$
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Jon Mandle and Sarah Roberts-Cady

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190859213

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190859213.001.0001

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Extending Rawlsian Justice to Nonhuman Animals

Extending Rawlsian Justice to Nonhuman Animals

(p.273) 15 Extending Rawlsian Justice to Nonhuman Animals
John Rawls

Sarah Roberts-Cady

Oxford University Press

Rawls’s theory does not, as many philosophers assume, rule out the possibility of justice for nonhuman animals. A careful reading of Rawls shows that the issue hinges on the answer to this question: would it be reasonable for moral agents to agree to terms of social cooperation that include protections for animals? To establish that it is reasonable, one must make an argument for these legal protections that is grounded in public reason alone. Such arguments exist and, indeed, dominate discussions of the status of animals. Accordingly, a Rawlsian framework can be used to argue for justice for animals.

Keywords:   John Rawls, justice, public reason, nonhuman animals, contractualism

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