•  902
    The Replaceability Argument in the Ethics of Animal Husbandry
    Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics. 2016.
    Most people agree that inflicting unnecessary suffering upon animals is wrong. Many fewer people, including among ethicists, agree that painlessly killing animals is necessarily wrong. The most commonly cited reason is that death (without pain, fear, distress) is not bad for them in a way that matters morally, or not as significantly as it does for persons, who are self-conscious, make long-term plans and have preferences about their own future. Animals, at least those that are not persons, lack…Read more
  •  347
    Strangers to ourselves: a Nietzschean challenge to the badness of suffering
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy. forthcoming.
    Is suffering really bad? The late Derek Parfit argued that we all have reasons to want to avoid future agony and that suffering is in itself bad both for the one who suffers and impersonally. Nietzsche denied that suffering was intrinsically bad and that its value could even be impersonal. This paper has two aims. It argues against what I call ‘Realism about the Value of Suffering’ by drawing from a broadly Nietzschean debunking of our evaluative attitudes, showing that a recently influential re…Read more
  •  323
    Against moral intrinsicalism
    In Elisa Aaltola & John Hadley (eds.), Animal Ethics and Philosophy: Questioning the Orthodoxy, Rowman and Littlefield International. pp. 31-45. 2015.
    This paper challenges a widespread, if tacit, assumption of animal ethics, namely, that the only properties of entities that matter to their moral status are intrinsic, cross‐specific properties—typically psychological capacities. According to moral individualism (Rachels 1990; McMahan 2002; 2005), the moral status of an individual, and how to treat him or her, should only be a function of his or her individual properties. I focus on the fundamental assumption of moral individualism, which I cal…Read more
  •  262
    Social norms and farm animal protection
    Palgrave Communications 4 1-6. 2018.
    Social change is slow and difficult. Social change for animals is formidably slow and difficult. Advocates and scholars alike have long tried to change attitudes and convince the public that eating animals is wrong. The topic of norms and social change for animals has been neglected, which explains in part the relative failure of the animal protection movement to secure robust support reflected in social and legal norms. Moreover, animal ethics has suffered from a disproportionate focus on indiv…Read more
  •  235
    Valuing humane lives in two-level utilitarianism
    Utilitas 32 (3): 276-293. 2020.
    I examine the two-level utilitarian case for humane animal agriculture (by R. M. Hare and Gary Varner) and argue that it fails on its own terms. The case states that, at the ‘intuitive level’ of moral thinking, we can justify raising and killing animals for food, regarding them as replaceable, while treating them with respect. I show that two-level utilitarianism supports, instead, alternatives to animal agriculture. First, the case for humane animal agriculture does not follow from a commitment…Read more
  •  233
    Handicap et animaux
    In Sandra Laugier (ed.), Tous vulnérables ? Le care, les animaux et l'environnement, Payot-rivages. pp. 99-121. 2012.
    This paper addresses issues in comparing nonhuman animals and severely disabled human beings in terms of their morally relevant characteristics. Through a discussion of the works of Jeff McMahan, Eva Feder Kittay and Martha Nussbaum, the paper offers a defense of the importance and possibility of extending care and compassion to nonhumans without collapsing relevant species differences.
  •  175
    Meaning in the lives of humans and other animals
    Philosophical Studies 175 (2): 317-338. 2018.
    This paper argues that contemporary philosophical literature on meaning in life has important implications for the debate about our obligations to non-human animals. If animal lives can be meaningful, then practices including factory farming and animal research might be morally worse than ethicists have thought. We argue for two theses about meaning in life: that the best account of meaningful lives must take intentional action to be necessary for meaning—an individual’s life has meaning if and …Read more
  •  167
    Animal Agency, Captivity, and Meaning
    The Harvard Review of Philosophy 25 127-146. 2018.
    Can animals be agents? Do they want to be free? Can they have meaningful lives? If so, should we change the way we treat them? This paper offers an account of animal agency and of two continuums: between human and nonhuman agency, and between wildness and captivity. It describes how a wide range of human activities impede on animals’ freedom and argues that, in doing so, we deprive a wide range of animals of opportunities to exercise their agency in ways that can give meaning to their lives.
  •  153
    Un Singer peut-il en remplacer un autre ?
    Klesis 32 150-190. 2016.
    In the third edition of ‘Practical Ethics’ (2011), Peter Singer reexamines the so-called “replaceability argument,” according to which merely sentient beings, as opposed to persons (self-conscious and with a robust sense of time), are replaceable—it is in principle permissible to kill them provided that they live pleasant lives that they would not have had otherwise and that they be replaced by equally happy beings. On this view, existence is a benefit and death is not a harm. Singer’s challenge…Read more
  •  142
    Pervasive Captivity and Urban Wildlife
    Ethics, Policy and Environment 23 (2): 123-143. 2020.
    Urban animals can benefit from living in cities, but this also makes them vulnerable as they increasingly depend on the advantages of urban life. This article has two aims. First, I provide a detailed analysis of the concept of captivity and explain why it matters to nonhuman animals—because and insofar as many of them have a (non-substitutable) interest in freedom. Second, I defend a surprising implication of the account—pushing the boundaries of the concept while the boundaries of cities and h…Read more
  •  132
    Pour une éthique animale descriptive
    Klesis 27 118-154. 2013.
    This article outlines a “descriptive animal ethics” based on the study of people’s intuitions about particular cases, in order to determine which moral theories best comport with those intuitions. I suggest that the latter need not be unreliable since they may be endorsed as considered judgments, and that even if they were, knowing them would still provide relevant information for a complete moral theory concerned with what moral agents can do. I describe a survey in descriptive ethics, discuss …Read more
  •  118
    Wild Animal Suffering is Intractable
    with Duncan Purves
    Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 31 (2): 239-260. 2018.
    Most people believe that suffering is intrinsically bad. In conjunction with facts about our world and plausible moral principles, this yields a pro tanto obligation to reduce suffering. This is the intuitive starting point for the moral argument in favor of interventions to prevent wild animal suffering. If we accept the moral principle that we ought, pro tanto, to reduce the suffering of all sentient creatures, and we recognize the prevalence of suffering in the wild, then we seem committed to…Read more
  •  116
    Moral Status, Final Value, and Extrinsic Properties
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 114 (3pt3): 371-379. 2014.
    Starting from a distinction between intrinsic and final value, I explore the implications of the supervenience of final value on extrinsic properties regarding moral status. I make a case for ‘extrinsic moral status’ based on ‘extrinsic final value’. I show that the assumption of ‘moral individualism’, that moral status supervenes merely on intrinsic properties, is misguided, and results from a conflation of intrinsic with final value. I argue that at least one extrinsic property, namely vulnera…Read more
  •  106
    Beyond the personhood paradigm
    ASEBL Journal 14 (1): 26-30. 2019.
    Commentary on Shawn Thompson's "Supporting Ape Rights". My response to Wise’s and Thompson’s strategy is two-fold: 1) personhood is neither strictly deter-mined by cognitive facts nor fruitfully construed in Kantian terms, and 2) personhood is not what matters when it comes to animal protection. To conclude, 3) I hint at an alternative, or complementary, avenue for change.
  •  94
    The meaning of animal labour
    In Charlotte Blattner, Kendra Coulter & Will Kymlicka (eds.), Animal Labour: A New Frontier of Interspecies Justice?, Oxford University Press. pp. 160-180. 2020.
    Proponents of humane or traditional husbandry, in contrast to factory farming, often argue that maintaining meaningful relationships with animals entails working with them. Accordingly, they argue that animal liberation is misguided, since it appears to entail erasing our relationships to animals and depriving both us and them of valuable opportunities to live together. This chapter offers a critical examination of defense of animal husbandry based on the value of labour, in particular the view …Read more
  •  94
    Starting from the typical case of utilitarianism, I distinguish three ways a moral theory may be deemed (over-)demanding: practical, epistemic, and cognitive. I focus on the latter, whose specific nature has been overlooked. Taking animal ethics as a case study, I argue that knowledge of human cognition is critical to spelling out moral theories (including their implications) that are accessible and acceptable to the greatest number of agents. In a nutshell: knowing more about our cognitive appa…Read more
  •  92
    The meaning of killing (review)
    Books and Ideas 2018. 2018.
    Why do we consider killing and letting someone die to be two different things? Why do we believe that a doctor who refuses to treat a terminally ill patient is doing anything less than administering a lethal substance? After all, the consequences are the same, and perhaps the moral status of these acts should be judged accordingly. Reviewed: Jonathan Glover, Questions de vie ou de mort (Causing Death and Saving Lives), translated into French and introduced by Benoît Basse, Genève, Labor et Fides…Read more
  •  89
    Dans On What Matters Parfit défénd un objectivisme moral sur lequel il espère que les philosophes finiront par converger. Au cœur de cet espoir sont des vérités normatives irréductibles telles que l’affirmation que la souffrance est intrinsèquement mauvaise. Parfit se demande si Nietzsche menace son édifice et lui consacre un chapitre entier chapeautant la discussion du désaccord moral et de la convergence, et conclut que Nietzsche soit n’est pas en vrai désaccord, soit ne raisonne pas dans des …Read more
  •  81
    Commentary: Setting the Bar Higher
    Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 28 (1): 40-45. 2019.
    Commentary on Neuhaus and Parent, 'Gene doping--In Animals?' (2019)
  •  56
    Animal Consciousness
    with Pierre Le Neindre, Emilie Bernard, Alain Boissy, Xavier Boivin, Ludovic Calandreau, Bertrand Deputte, Sonia Desmoulin-Canselier, Muriel Dunier, Nathan Faivre, Martin Giurfa, Jean-Luc Guichet, Léa Lansade, Raphaël Larrère, Pierre Mormède, Patrick Prunet, Benoist Schaal, Jacques Servière, and Claudia Terlouw
    EFSA Supporting Publication 14 (4). 2017.
    After reviewing the literature on current knowledge about consciousness in humans, we present a state-of-the art discussion on consciousness and related key concepts in animals. Obviously much fewer publications are available on non-human species than on humans, most of them relating to laboratory or wild animal species, and only few to livestock species. Human consciousness is by definition subjective and private. Animal consciousness is usually assessed through behavioural performance. Behavio…Read more
  •  50
    Consider the agent in the arthropod
    with Peter Cook, Gordon Bauer, and Heidi Harley
    Animal Sentience 29 (32). 2020.
    —Commentary on Mikhalevich and Powell on invertebrate minds.— Whether or not arthropods are sentient, they can have moral standing. Appeals to sentience are not necessary and retard progress in human treatment of other species, including invertebrates. Other increasingly well-documented aspects of invertebrate minds are pertinent to their welfare. Even if arthropods are not sentient, they can be agents whose goals—and therefore interests—can be frustrated. This kind of agency is sufficient for m…Read more
  •  15
    Review of "The Moral Rights of Animals" (review)
    Essays in Philosophy 19 (1): 168-173. 2018.
  •  14
    Faits divers
    with Clément Rosset and Santiago Espinosa
    Presses Universitaires de France. 2013.
    Gilles Deleuze, les vampires, Emil Cioran, Samuel Beckett, le dandysme, Friedrich Nietzsche, Raymond Roussel, Casanova, Arthur Schopenhauer, Jean-Luc Godard, Goscinny & Uderzo, Jean-Paul Sartre, Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Le réel, le double, l’illusion, le tragique, la joie, la musique, la philosophie, la politique, le péché, l’enseignement. Faits divers sont les miscellanées de Clément Rosset : le répertoire désordonné et jubilatoire de ses passions et de ses dégoûts, de ses intérêts et de ses bâil…Read more
  •  13
    L’animal d’élevage compagnon de travail. L’éthique des fables alimentaires
    Revue Française d'Éthique Appliquée 2 (4). 2017.
    Jocelyne Porcher sets out to “reinvent” our relationship to animals in order to better “live with” them. This article provides a critical examination of her thesis that farm animals can be seen as proper workers, in a sense that precludes the sort of unjust exploitation that she ascribes to factory farming. Contrary to Porcher, the article considers relationships between humans and domesticated species which do not entail killing or even work for food production purposes. The present critique fo…Read more
  •  11
    Moral Origins (review)
    Metapsychology Online Reviews 16 (36). 2012.
    In this fascinating, accessible book, anthropologist Christopher Boehm, Professor at the University of Southern California and author of Hierarchy in the Forest (Harvard University Press, 1999) makes an important contribution to the growing body of scientific literature on the evolution of morality. Attempting to answer one of Darwin's chief problems -- i.e. an account, consistent with natural selection, of how altruistic genes were selected -- Boehm paints a Darwinistic yet historically and eth…Read more