Christine Korsgaard

Fellow Creatures: Kantian Ethics and Our Duties to Animals

PP. 92-110


1.      Argument that humans are “ends in themselves” because of our “legislating will”

2.      Humans are capable of conferring value on objects of our choices

3.      Humans take our choices to be the source of legitimate normative claims on all rational beings

         a.      If a person chooses to do X, then other rational beings ought to respect that choice by letting (or helping him) pursue X

4.      Kant rejects value realism: (Special kind of) desires create value

         a.      Value of our ends is not one they possess prior to our interest in them

         b.      Objects are not just intrinsically valuable in themselves

         c.      They don’t have value which then makes it rational to pursue them

         d.      We do not desire things because they are valuable; we take them to be valuable because we desire them

         e.      World of value a human construction

         f.       Value results from acts of valuing, not reverse (valuing does is not a response to something having value)

         g.      Values/valuing not a response to reasons/values already out there

         h.      Valuing is a response to self-conscious beings need to endorse the grounds of their actions and so treating them as reasons


5.      Kant’s value constructivism: How humans create value/obligation

6.      We take our own desire/interest in an object/end, to give it a value that is worthy of rational choice

         a.      As rational beings, conscious of choices, only pursue ends if we believe them to be good, worthy of pursuit

                   i.       Don’t people do things and desire thinks they believe are worthless or wrong and would not think others should?

7.      If our ends matter, then we (humans) must matter

         a.      If what we pursue matters, then we must matter

8.      Judging our end to be good is to universalize the end

         a.      To say and end is worthy of pursuit, means we have universalized them and willed them to be universal law, binding on all

         b.      “It is a good thing, worthy of anyone’s pursuit, that I should have this end that I pursue.”

9.      Value a human creation–result of our rationality

         a.      Only way anything can have value is as a result of such universalizing legislative action

10.    Humans create all value including their own value (95)

         a.      “Very act of treating our own ends as good and worthy of pursuit, in spite of their lack of any inherent/intrinsic value, we confer status of end-in-itself on ourselves”

         b.      “Because we are rational, we can’t act w/o endorsing the principles upon which we act and in that sense willing them as laws”

         c.      “These acts of endorsement/legislation what transforms mere desiring (all other animals have?) into acts of valuing”

         d.      Act of valuing only source of value (legitimate normative claims–oughts)”

         e.      “Obligation does not arise from value, rather obligation and value arise together from acts of legislative will”

11.    All value/obligation arise from moral legislation

         a.      Only humans can obligate us and so only humans are ends in themselves

12.    Ned’s summary of how humans create value/obligation

         a.      We must see our own ends as worthy of pursuit

                   i.       This is a meta evaluation of the worthiness of our means-to-desired-ends proposed actions, something only humans can do

         b.      This is to legislate/universalize them as binding on all rational agents

         c.      This turns them into something valuable, that is, grounds of obligations

         d.      Since only humans can legislate their ends as grounds for obligation of others, only humans are ends in themselves (=have duties owed directly to them?)


         e.      What if we make animal’s well beings our ends? And legislate this as obligatory for all rational beings?

         f.       Korsgaard claims we make the satisfaction of the needs of our animal nature valuable in a way that imposes obligations on all others; but this entails that satisfying needs of any animal nature is morally considerable


13.    Korsgaard thinks Kant confuses two senses of end in themselves

         a.      Source of legitimate normative claims (on all rational agents)

                   i.       Is a sense in which they can obligate us

                   ii.      Animal nature can be this source

         b.      A being who can give force of law to his claims (legislator of moral claims, and only a rational will–not animals--can be source of obligations in this legislative sense)


14.    Animals like “passive” citizens; humans as active citizens

         a.      Laws are universal and can extend protection to someone who did not (or could not) participate in legislation

                   i.       Our basic laws protect even foreigners from theft and murder, thought they can’t participate in law making

15.    Women free speech example

         a.      If women could not vote and men make a law guaranteeing everyone right of free speech

                   i.       Can a woman obligate a man to desist from trying to silence her?

                   ii.      She can’t participate in making a law compelling him to stop

                   iii.     But she can have a claim on him in the name of a law whose authority he acknowledges

         b.      That animals can’t participate in moral legislation does not show they can’t obligate us in the sense of have a claim against us in the name of a moral law we acknowledge


16.    Question is: Do humans find it necessary to will laws whose protection extends to other animals.

17.    Because Korsgaard not a value realist can’t say animals have value and therefore they obligate us

         a.      Rational human legislation creates moral laws/value/obligation

         b.      But perhaps this legislation extends to animals, though they can’t legislate

18.    Yes: Humans will laws protecting their (hence any) animal nature, not just their (unique) autonomous nature

         a.      We take ourselves and our interests to matter and this is the source of our normative claims on all rational beings

         b.      But we don’t take them to matter, because they are the interests of autonomous rational beings

         c.      That we are autonomous enables us to legislate what is good for me

         d.      But this doesn’t mean I only legislate because it is good for an autonomous being

19.    Could legislate what is good for all animal beings

20.    Demand we not be tortured, injured, hunted or eaten not because its an assault on our autonomous nature, but because is an assault on our animal nature

21.    Therefore should not treat our fellow animals in that way.

22.    Autonomy allows us to make the demand, but is not the reason for it

23.    Only an active citizen can vote for a law against murder, but he need not do it only because considers death of active citizen to be bad thing

         a.      Might vote protection for all citizens, not just active citizens

24.    Is the only important thing here the assault on our autonomous being? (No)

         a.      Since we choose not to be treated in these ways, people need to respect that

         b.      If pain not intrinsically bad, rational being may choose it, and we should respect that choice

25.    What we decide to treat as source of legitimate normative claims not just our autonomous nature but our animal nature as well

         a.      To think of ourselves as ends in ourselves is to place value on our “natural incentives”

         b.      We don’t only place value on our respecting our choices, but also on the content of those choices

                   i.       Pursuing our natural good (goods of our animal being)


26.    Natural goods of entities, including animals

         a.      Whatever enables an entity to function well

         b.      Car’s good? Riding brakes is bad for cars as impedes its functioning

                   i.       Since car’s function resides outside itself, not really the car this is bad for

         c.      Plant has good slightly deeper sense than car, as its plants own needs to function/maintain itself that are served/thwarted

         d.      Animal has good in deeper sense still

                   i.       Animal experiences and pursues what is naturally good or bad for it

                   ii.      (Animals not judging to themselves their ends are good, only rational beings do that)

                   iii.     Animal own good matters to itself: it welcomes, desires, enjoys and pursues own good for its own sake

                   iv.     Things are good for animals from their own point of view


27.    Does this require animals to be self-conscious?

28.    Only animals with self-conception can “matter to itself”.

29.    Types/degrees of self-consciousness in animals

         a.      Self-consciousness of rational beings:

                   i.       Conception of one’s inner states as one’s inner states, “ability to say this is how I think,” to identify oneself as subject of one’s own representations (beliefs)

         b.      Mirror recognition self-consciousness: conception of one’s outer states and ability to think “this is how I look”

                   i.       Animals that can do this place themselves in public world, in gaze of others

         c.      Ability to be named and called (even w/o mirror recognition)

                   i.       Implies certain sense of self

         d.      Knowing place in social order

                   i.       Involves a sense of self as can situate themselves in social hierarch.

         e.      Knowing that a threat or offer is directed at them involves primitive self conception

                   i.       Cockroach running for the cabinet? Self-conscious


30.    We are animals and have natural good in same sense as animals

31.    Our own natural good (not in itself normative)

32.    But we confer normative value on our natural good when we value ourselves as ends

33.    It is our animal nature, not just our autonomous nature, that we take to be an end in itself.

         a.      When we legislate against being tortured or hunted or eaten

         b.      We aren’t only legislating it for a rational autonomous being

         c.      But for our (and any other) animal being

34.    “Imagine about to be deprived of rational nature, but may now settle the question of whether afterwards you many be tortured or not? Can’t really say, in that case it won’t matter

         a.      Notice how if imagining yourself to be deprived of your sentient nature (become a “vegetable”) you could say in that case it would not matter if I was cut up and eaten.

35.    When we value things like eating drinking sex playing and disvalue things like mutilation, pain, loss of control

         a.      We are valuing our animal nature

         b.      And when we legislate for and against them, legislate on behalf of our animal nature


36.    Conclusion

         a.      Strange fate of being an organic system that matters to itself is one we share with other animals

         b.      When we take ourselves to be ends in ourselves we legislate that the good of a creature who matters to itself is source of norms (obligations)

         c.      Animal nature an end it itself because our own legislation makes it so

         d.      Hence we have duties to other animals


37.    Korsgaard is tempted by universal consideration for any being that has a good (including not just animals, but plants and perhaps any functional entity)

         a.      “Perhaps we should treat every kind of thing in accordance with its nature, the kinds of good and bads to which it is subject

         b.      Moral consideration can come in degrees

                   i.       So does not mean the good of a plant counts as much as the good of a human

38.    Worries that since life preys on life and we must participate in this the world is fundamentally morally objectionable

         a.      Reply is that there is no reason to assume that the world will live up to human created moral standards

39.    Must do our best to treat all animals as fellow creatures whose good matters for own sake

         a.      Don’t need to hunt or eat animals (if in developed nations)

40.    Dignity of rationality does not rest in supposed right it gives us to ravish our fellow creatures for our benefit

         a.      It rests on the ability to govern ourselves as best we can with standards we ourselves endorse


41.    Kant right that idea of end in itself is only source of value

42.    Reason there is value in world is because exist beings who matter to themselves–who experience and pursue own good

         a.      This is true of animals... But she doesn’t think animals create value/obligation!

43.    Humans not only such beings

44.    Human create order of moral values: we choose to ratify and endorse the natural concern that all animals have for themselves

         a.      What we endorse is a condition shared by other animals

         b.      We are not only beings who matter

45.    We are only beings on behalf of all animals can shake fists at uncaring universe and declare that in spite of all, we matter.



46.             Universal law test does not help with obligations to animals

                  a.               Koorsgaard thinks the universal law test (an act is wrong if its effectiveness would be undercut by universal practice) won’t get us obligations to animals,

                  b.               As it only works to explain wrongness of duties that arise from social conventions/reciprocity and our treatment of animals involves from more “natural” acts like eating them