Download Biology and the Foundations of Ethics by Jane Maienschein, Michael Ruse PDF

By Jane Maienschein, Michael Ruse

There was a lot recognition dedicated lately to the query of even if our ethical ideas should be with regards to our organic nature. This choice of new essays specializes in the relationship among biology and foundational questions in ethics. The booklet asks such questions as no matter if people are innately egocentric, and no matter if there are specific features of human nature that undergo without delay on social practices. this can be the 1st e-book to supply this old viewpoint at the relation of biology and ethics, and has been written through the various major figures within the background and philosophy of technological know-how, whose paintings stands greatly on the innovative of those disciplines.

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Extra resources for Biology and the Foundations of Ethics

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Much of that contrast had to do with the human capacity for reason and its associated abil­ ities. Humans could reflect; the brutes could not. Humans had a conscience or moral sense; the brutes did not. Humans could form contracts; the brutes could not (Erasmus Darwin notwithstanding). Humans had interests; the brutes - well, if they had any, they were subservient to human interests. Hu­ mans could improve their conditions; the brutes could not. Humans could speak; the brutes could not. Humans could suffer; the brutes - well, again, they could suffer, but, at best, that made them moral patients.

23. 24. 25 . 26. 27. 28. 29. that they play functionally similar roles in different kinds of animals (HA III 8, 5 1 7a l -2). See also Pellegrin ( 1 9821 1 986, pp. 84-90). The passage immediately following this (5 88b4-5 89a9) is more famous, being one of two statements (the other being PA IV 5 , 68 1 a I O-b 1 3) that historians of b iol o gy identify as the sources of the idea of a continuous scala naturae. It takes on added philosophical significance when read in its wider context, however, because its connection with the passage we are currently discussing is to make the point that all animal differentiae vary by small degrees from one animal to the next.

Infants, Hutcheson remi nds us, are i n the same state, yet we feel ob­ ligated to respect their rights not to be abused or mistreated. So, on Hutche­ son's view, one can have a right without being aware of it or without the capacity for being aware of it. " In addition, there is a further consideration : "frequent cruelty to brutes may produce such a bad habit of mind as may break out in like treatment of our fellows" (Hutcheson 1 968, vol. 1 , p. 3 1 4). But when all is said and done, humans care for the tamer animals for what can be gotten out of them; those that are not useful to the promotion of hu­ man happiness are or should be left to fend for themselves.

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