Volume 30, Issue 2, Summer 2008
Kimberly K. Smith
Animals and the Social Contract
A Reply to Nussbaum
In The Frontiers of Justice, Martha Nussbaum argues that social contract theory cannot accommodate political duties to animals because it requires the parties to the contract to enjoy rough physical and mental equality. Her interpretation of the social contract tradition is unpersuasive; social contract theory requires only that the parties be equally free and deserving of moral consideration. Moreover, social contract theory is superior to her capabilities approach in that it allows us to limit the scope of the community of justice to animals we are capable of recognizing as subjects of justice and with whom we have a political relationship.