•  573
    Nonhuman Animals: Not Necessarily Saints or Sinners
    Between the Species 17 (1): 1-30. 2014.
    Higher-order thought theories maintain that consciousness involves the having of higher-order thoughts about mental states. In response to these theories of consciousness, an attempt is often made to illustrate that nonhuman animals possess said consciousness, overlooking an alarming consequence: attributing higher-order thought to nonhuman animals might entail that they should be held morally accountable for their actions. I argue that moral responsibility requires more than higher-order though…Read more
  •  478
    There is a widespread belief that for their own safety and for the protection of wildlife, cats should be permanently kept indoors. Against this view, I argue that cat guardians have a duty to provide their feline companions with outdoor access. The argument is based on a sophisticated hedonistic account of animal well-being that acknowledges that the performance of species-normal ethological behavior is especially pleasurable. Territorial behavior, which requires outdoor access, is a feline-nor…Read more
  •  305
    It is common for conservationists to refer to non-native species that have undesirable impacts on humans as “invasive”. We argue that the classification of any species as “invasive” constitutes wrongful discrimination. Moreover, we argue that its being wrong to categorize a species as invasive is perfectly compatible with it being morally permissible to kill animals—assuming that conservationists “kill equally”. It simply is not compatible with the double standard that conservationists tend to e…Read more
  •  254
    In recent discussions, it has been argued that a theory of animal rights is at odds with a liberal abortion policy. In response, Francione (1995) argues that the principles used in the animal rights discourse do not have implications for the abortion debate. I challenge Francione’s conclusion by illustrating that his own framework of animal rights, supplemented by a relational account of moral obligation, can address the moral issue of abortion. I first demonstrate that Francione’s animal rights…Read more
  •  222
    Animal Rights and the Duty to Harm: When to be a Harm Causing Deontologist
    Journal for Ethics and Moral Philosophy 3 (1): 5-26. 2020.
    An adequate theory of rights ought to forbid the harming of animals (human or nonhuman) to promote trivial interests of humans, as is often done in the animal-user industries. But what should the rights view say about situations in which harming some animals is necessary to prevent intolerable injustices to other animals? I develop an account of respectful treatment on which, under certain conditions, it’s justified to intentionally harm some individuals to prevent serious harm to others. This c…Read more
  •  206
    The philosophy of animal rights is often characterized as an exclusively justice oriented approach to animal liberation that is unconcerned with, and moreover suspicious of, moral emotions, like sympathy, empathy, and compassion. I argue that the philosophy of animal rights can, and should, acknowledge that compassion plays an integral role in animal liberation discourse and theory. Because compassion motivates moral actors to relieve the serious injustices that other animals face, or, at the ve…Read more
  •  184
    Because spaying/neutering animals involves the harming of some animals in order to prevent harm to others, some ethicists, like David Boonin, argue that the philosophy of animal rights is committed to the view that spaying/neutering animals violates the respect principle and that Trap Neuter Release programs are thus impermissible. In response, I demonstrate that the philosophy of animal rights holds that, under certain conditions, it is justified, and sometimes even obligatory, to cause harm to…Read more
  •  183
    In The Case for Animal Rights, Tom Regan argues that although all subjects-of-a-life have equal inherent value, there are often differences in the value of lives. According to Regan, lives that have the highest value are lives which have more possible sources of satisfaction. Regan claims that the highest source of satisfaction, which is available to only rational beings, is the satisfaction associated with thinking impartially about moral choices. Since rational beings can bring impartial reaso…Read more
  •  165
    This is a chapter written for an audience that is not intimately familiar with the philosophy of animal consumption. It provides an overview of the harms that animals, the environment, and humans endure as a result of industrial animal agriculture, and it concludes with a defense of ostroveganism and a tentative defense of cultured meat.
  •  159
    Save the Meat for Cats: Why It’s Wrong to Eat Roadkill
    with Cheryl Abbate and C. E. Abbate
    Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 32 (1): 165-182. 2019.
    Because factory-farmed meat production inflicts gratuitous suffering upon animals and wreaks havoc on the environment, there are morally compelling reasons to become vegetarian. Yet industrial plant agriculture causes the death of many field animals, and this leads some to question whether consumers ought to get some of their protein from certain kinds of non factory-farmed meat. Donald Bruckner, for instance, boldly argues that the harm principle implies an obligation to collect and consume roa…Read more
  •  137
    Sheep complexity outside the laboratory
    Animal Sentience 233 1-3. 2019.
    Marino & Merskin’s review shows that sheep are intelligent and highly social but their methodology has some shortcomings. I describe five problems with reviewing only the academic and scientific literature and suggest how one might provide an even more compelling case for the complexity of sheep minds.
  •  128
    How to Help when It Hurts: The Problem of Assisting Victims of Injustice
    Journal of Social Philosophy 47 (2): 142-170. 2016.
    In The Case for Animal Rights, Tom Regan argues that, in addition to the negative duty not to harm nonhuman animals, moral agents have a positive duty to assist nonhuman animals who are victims of injustice. This claim is not unproblematic because, in many cases, assisting a victim of injustice requires that we harm some other nonhuman animal(s). For instance, in order to feed victims of injustice who are obligate carnivores, we must kill some other animal(s). It seems, then, that sometimes the…Read more
  •  113
    How to Help when it Hurts: ACT Individually (and in Groups)
    Animal Studies Journal 9 (1): 170-200. 2020.
    In a recent article, Corey Wrenn argues that in order to adequately address injustices done to animals, we ought to think systemically. Her argument stems from a critique of the individualist approach I employ to resolve a moral dilemma faced by animal sanctuaries, who sometimes must harm some animals to help others. But must systemic critiques of injustice be at odds with individualist approaches? In this paper, I respond to Wrenn by showing how individualist approaches that take seriously…Read more
  •  92
    Virtues and Animals: A Minimally Decent Ethic for Practical Living in a Non-ideal World
    Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 27 (6): 909-929. 2014.
    Traditional approaches to animal ethics commonly emerge from one of two influential ethical theories: Regan’s deontology and Singer’s preference utilitarianism. I argue that both of the theories are unsuccessful at providing adequate protection for animals because they are unable to satisfy the three conditions of a minimally decent theory of animal protection. While Singer’s theory is overly permissive, Regan’s theory is too restrictive. I argue that a minimally decent animal ethic requires a f…Read more
  •  86
    Valuing animals as they are—Whether they feel it or not
    European Journal of Philosophy 28 (3): 770-788. 2020.
    Dressing up animals in ridiculous costumes, shaming dogs on the internet, playing Big Buck Hunter at the local tavern, feeding vegan food to cats, and producing and consuming “knockout” animals, what, if anything, do these acts have in common? In this article, I develop two respect-based arguments that explain how these acts are morally problematic, even though they might not always, if ever, affect the experiential welfare of animals. While these acts are not ordinary wrongs, they are animal di…Read more
  •  72
    In his influential article on the ethics of eating animals, Alastair Norcross argues that consumers of factory raised meat and puppy torturers are equally condemnable because both knowingly cause serious harm to sentient creatures just for trivial pleasures. Against this claim, I argue that those who buy and consume factory raised meat, even those who do so knowing that they cause harm, have a partial excuse for their wrongdoings. Meat eaters act under social duress, which causes volitional impa…Read more
  •  67
    Nonculpably Ignorant Meat Eaters & Epistemically Unjust Meat Producers
    Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 9 (9): 46-54. 2020.
    In my recent paper, “The Epistemology of Meat-Eating,” I advanced an epistemological theory that explains why so many people continue to eat animals, even after they encounter anti-factory farming arguments. I began by noting that because meat-eating is seriously immoral, meat-eaters must either (1) believe that eating animals isn’t seriously immoral, or (2) believe that meat eating is seriously immoral (and thus they must be seriously immoral). I argued that standard meat-eaters don’t believe t…Read more
  •  50
    Recent discussions in the just war literature suggest that soldiers have a duty to assume certain risks in order to protect the lives of all innocent civilians. I challenge this principle of risk by arguing that it is justified neither as a principle that guides the conduct of combat soldiers, nor as a principle that guides commanders in the US military. I demonstrate that the principle of risk fails on the first account because it requires soldiers both to violate their strict duty of obedience…Read more
  •  50
    The Search for Liability in the Defensive Killing of Nonhuman Animals
    with Cheryl Abbate and C. E. Abbate
    Social Theory and Practice 41 (1): 106-130. 2015.
    While theories of animal rights maintain that nonhuman animals possess prima facie rights, such as the right to life, the dominant philosophies of animal rights permit the killing of nonhuman animals for reasons of self-defense. I argue that the animal rights discourse on defensive killing is problematic because it seems to entail that any nonhuman animal who poses a threat to human beings can be justifiably harmed without question. To avoid this human-privileged conclusion, I argue that the ani…Read more
  •  42
    The epistemology of meat eating
    Social Epistemology 35 (1): 67-84. 2021.
    A widely accepted view in epistemology is that we do not have direct control over our beliefs. And we surely do not have as much control over our beliefs as we have over simple actions. For instance, you can, if offered $500, immediately throw your steak in the trash, but a meat-eater cannot, at will, start believing that eating animals is wrong to secure a $500 reward. Yet, even though we have more control over our behavior than we have over our beliefs, some of our behavior, especially moral b…Read more
  •  39
    In response to my argument against Aristotle’s claim that humans are more political than other animals, Edward Jacobs counters that the evidence I use from cognitive ethology and my application of evolutionary principles fail to demonstrate that other animals are as political as humans. Jacobs furthermore suggests that humans are more political than other animals by pointing to the political variation in human communities. In this article, I defend my use of evolutionary principles and my interp…Read more
  •  28
    It’s certainly wrong for employers to accept applications from only white people. Universities that open admissions to only white people surely act wrongly. But do people who date, or consider dating, only white people do something wrong? Many people say that racialized attraction is just a matter of personal preference. Against this view, it will be argued that it often constitutes wrongful discrimination.
  •  24
    On Moral Ignorance and Mistakes of Fact: a Response to Harman
    Philosophia 48 (4): 1355-1362. 2020.
    Moral ignorance is always blameworthy, but “failing to realize” that P when you have sufficient evidence for P is sometimes exculpatory, according to Elizabeth Harman (2017). What explains this alleged puzzle? Harman (2017) leaves this an open question. In this article, a solution is offered
  •  19
    Re-defending Feline Liberty: a Response to Fischer
    Acta Analytica 36 (3): 451-463. 2021.
    In response to my defense of house-based, free-roaming cats, Bob Fischer : 463–468, 2020) argues that cat guardians have a duty to permanently confine their felines to the indoors. His main argument is that house-based cats cause an all-things-considered harm to the animals they kill and that this harm is not outweighed by the harm cats endure as a consequence of feline imprisonment. He moreover claims that while we can justify the restriction of feline liberty because cats are not “full agents”…Read more
  •  16
    The claim that epistemic oughts stem from the “role” of believer is widely discussed in the epistemological discourse. This claim seems to stem from the common view that, in some sense, epistemic norms derive from what it is to be a believer. Against this view, I argue that there is no such thing as a “role” of believer. But there is a role of knower, and this is the role to which some epistemic norms—epistemic role oughts—are attached. Once we conceive of epistemic role oughts as attaching to t…Read more
  •  13
    While Aristotle’s proposition that "Man is by nature a political animal" is often assumed to entail that, according to Aristotle, nonhuman animals are not political, some Aristotelian scholars suggest that Aristotle is only committed to the claim that man is more of a political animal than any other nonhuman animal. I argue that even this thesis is problematic, as contemporary research in cognitive ethology reveals that many social nonhuman mammals are, in fact, political in the Aristotelian sen…Read more
  •  1
    Racialized Sexual Discrimination: A Moral Right or Morally Wrong?
    with C. E. Abbate and Cheryl Abbate
    In Book Chapter, . forthcoming.
    It’s often assumed that if white people have a sexual preference for other white people, they, when using intimate dating platforms, have the right to skip over the profiles of Black people. As some argue, we have the right to act on our sexual preferences, including racialized sexual preferences, because doing so isn’t harmful, and even if it were harmful, this wouldn’t matter because either our “right” to act on our sexual preferences outweighs the harm and/or we cannot even control our sexual…Read more