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Res Philosophica

Volume 95, Issue 4, October 2018

David Hershenov, Rose Hershenov
Pages 693-718
DOI: 10.11612/resphil.1630

Health, Moral Status, and a Minimal Speciesism

The potential for healthy development is the key to determining the moral status of mindless and minimally minded organisms. It even provides the basis for a defense of speciesism. Mindless and minimally minded human beings have interests in the healthy development of sophisticated mental capacities, which explains why they are greatly harmed when death, disease, and other events frustrate those interests. Since the healthy development of members of non-human species doesn’t produce the same sophisticated mental capacities, mindless and minimally minded non-human beings lack the interests of mindless and minimally minded human beings. The absence of such interests in developing valuable mental capabilities means non-humans can’t be benefited and harmed to the same degree as human beings. This results in mindless and minimally minded non-humans having lower moral status than human beings. This doesn’t mean that any member of our species is more valuable than any other member of any other possible species. We instead claim that human beings with undeveloped or impaired minds have greater moral status than any member of any other known species that has manifested equivalent mental capacities.