Philosophy in the Contemporary World

Volume 11, Issue 2, Fall/Winter 2004

Michael Forest
Pages 31-36

Hierarchy and the Animals

Thomism and hierarchical metaphysical systems generally have rejected the moral status of animals. This paper demonstrates that a commitment to a hierarchical system involves the twin claim of being and goodness. This implies that grades of goodness perfuse the created order and also implies the proportional goodness of animals and other living beings. These implications have been consistently overlooked in traditional treatments of our moral relations to animals, yet such hierarchical systems provide an optimal grounding for such evaluations. An application is made to the practice of killing animals for food and a prescription for vegetarianism is advocated.

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