Can Animals Be Moral?

Can Animals Be Moral?

3.43 (16 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Dispatched from the UK in 11 business days
When will my order arrive?


Can animals act for moral reasons? Philosophical tradition answers, almost univocally, "no." Recent work in cognitive ethology, however, points in the other direction. Philosophical tradition has apparently convincing arguments on its side. But cognitive ethology can point to a growing body of empirical evidence that suggests these arguments must be wrong. This groundbreaking book assimilates both philosophical and ethological frameworks into a unified whole. In part, ethologists have not understood the enormous logical obstacles facing the claim that animals can act morally. But, in part also, philosophers have been guilty of over-intellectualizing crucial concepts such as moral motivation and action. Building on the ethological evidence, this book engages in meticulous philosophical analysis and argument, and the resulting answer to the question is a qualified "yes." Animals can act morally in the sense they can act for moral reasons. Or, at least, they are no compelling logical obstacles to supposing that this is the case.
This conclusion has important implications not just for our understanding of animals but also of the central concepts we employ in understanding the moral lives of humans, such as motivation, action, and agency.
show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 272 pages
  • 147.32 x 210.82 x 25.4mm | 317.51g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0199842000
  • 9780199842001
  • 732,043

Review quote

I would strongly recommend this book ... to those who are studying animal behaviour and to those who are working on ethics and moral status of animals. * Martin Whiting, Animal Welfare * An important contribution to the extended field of Ethics...very crisply and also engagingly written. * Chris Bratcher, Ethical Record * This book makes an enormous contribution to an under-explored topic. It makes a novel and persuasive case that animals can be moral within certain limits, and lays the way for future philosophical and empirical enquiry. * Dr. Tom McClelland, Metapsychology * An excellent book, not only on what it is for animals to be moral, but what it is for humans to be moral, whether one agrees with the conclusions or not. In short, it is a book on what it is to be moral per se that challenges with skill and imagination goes-without-saying preconceptions of the moral and so deserves to be widely read. * John Shand, The Philosophical Quarterly * Philosophers will appreciate the carefulness of Rowlands's arguments, the clarity of his writing, and his understated sense of humor. * Jessica Pierce, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. * Can Animals Be Moral? offers the most comprehensive analysis and evaluation to date of the traditional views underlying scepticism about the moral subjecthood of animals and it does an excellent job of clarifying the conceptual and argumentative landscape. * Robert Streifer, Mind *
show more

About Mark Rowlands

Mark Rowlands is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Miami. He is the author of fourteen books, translated into more than twenty languages. His autobiography, The Philosopher and the Wolf was published in 2008, and became an international bestseller.
show more

Table of contents

1. Can Animals be Moral? ; 2. Attributing Emotions to Animals ; 3. Moral Agents, Patients, and Subjects ; 4. The Reflection Condition: Aristotle and Kant ; 5. The Idiot ; 6. The Phenomenology of Moral Motivation ; 7. Moral Motivation and Meta-Cognition ; 8. Moral Reasons and Practice ; 9. Reconstructing Normativity and Agency ; 10. A Cognitive Ethologist from Mars
show more

Rating details

16 ratings
3.43 out of 5 stars
5 19% (3)
4 25% (4)
3 38% (6)
2 19% (3)
1 0% (0)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X