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Environmental Ethics

Volume 30, Issue 2, Summer 2008

Kimberly K. Smith
Pages 195-207
DOI: 10.5840/enviroethics20083026

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.