irrational homocentricity

Thu Jul 15 19:11:14 EST 1993

In article <1993Jul15.124122.14995 at>, aroger at writes:
> In article <1993Jul15.222745.1 at>, mail_boot at (ROBERT BOOT, HERSTON MEDICAL LIBRARY) writes:
>> This does not follow. We may well have qualms. That does not mean we accord
>> them the same rights as members of the moral community.  
> You are misunderstanding me.  I never claimed that animals ought have the
> "same" rights as humans.  If you have qualms about hurting beings without
> a moral sense, but are able to experience suffering....then you are
> figuring them in your moral decisions (regardless of whether they themselves
> can make such decisions)
>>> This consequence would be repugnant to most people. 
>> Perhaps, but so what?
> My point is that a characteristic such as the  ability to make
>  moral decisions has nothing to do with whether they count in a moral
> decision that you make.  I feel bad if I hurt someone not because
> they can make moral decision, but because they feel pain.
> What I am arguing against is the fallacy that if one has no
>  capabilities to make moral decisions, that they should be excluded
>  from others moral decisions.

Lots of perfectly sensible comment deleted.

MY point, which I tried to make carefully so as not to give unnecessary
offence was that neither the severely retarded nor animals have rights in te
sense that members of moral community do. I agree that the pain we may cause
them may 'count' to us. What I deny is that this moral equivalence implies that
animals should be treated as we presently treat retarded children. It might
equally mean that we could justify experiments on the retarded that we would
not perform on members of the human moral community. With this last, for
instance we require informed consent.

ROBERT BOOT                                             R.BOOT at
The University of Queensland                       Telephone +61 7 365 5354
Brisbane Qld 4072  AUSTRALIA                       Facsimile +61 7 365 5243

More information about the Bioforum mailing list