Volume 6, Issue 1, Spring 1984
The Moral Standing of Natural Objects
Human beings are, as far as we know, the only animals to have moral concerns and to adopt moralities, but it would be a mistake to be misled by this fact into thinking that humans are also the only proper objects of moral consideration. I argue that we ought to allow even nonliving things a significant moral status, thus denying the condusion of much contemporary moral thinking. First, I consider the possibility
of giving moral consideration to nonliving things. Second, I put forward grounds which justify this extension of morality beyond its conventional boundarles. Third, I argue that natural objects have a status different from a special dass of artifacts -works of art. Fourth, I discuss the notion of interest, and fifth I look brietly at the status of natural systems and at ways we might link the proposed extension of moral considerability with the rest of our moral thinking.