Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 19


]Je Sebo is an undergraduate philosophy and sociology student at 1exas Christian
Uniersity. le is currently planning to pursue a graduate education in philosophy
with an emphasis on ethics, philosophy o law, and political philosophy. lis
recently published articles include Are luman Beings Lnds In 1hemseles` Lx
Nihilo V ,lall 2004, and 1he Socratic Dialectic.` DIALOGUL 4:2-3 ,lall

.vivat iberatiov Pbito.ob, ava Potic, ]ovrvat, Volume II, Issue 2, 2004, pp. 1-19.
Je Sebo.
A Critique of the Kantian 1heory of Indirect Moral
Duties to Animals

Je Sebo]

Much has been made o the seeming incompatibility o
Kantian ethics and animal rights. Kant argues that we hae no direct
moral duties to animals as beings with inherent alue, we hae only
indirect duties to them insoar as our treatment o them aects the
interests o other human beings. lor example, in Duties to Animals
and Spirits` Kant writes, |So| ar as animals are concerned, we hae
no direct duties. Animals are not sel-conscious and are there merely
as the means to an end. 1hat end is man.` le reiterates this point
later by writing: Our duties towards animals are merely indirect
duties towards humanity` ,ibia,.
In contrast, animal rights adocates argue that animals are
beings with inherent alue, and so we hae direct duties to them
whether or not our actions toward them promote the interests o
other human beings. 1o cite just one example, 1om Regan ,1985,
argues that animals hae inherent rights or the same reason that we
do: \e are each o us the experiencing subject o a lie, a conscious
creature haing an indiidual welare that has importance to us
whateer our useulness to others` ,48,. \e may consider this
argument a direct, or ivtriv.ic, account o duties to animals, as
opposed to the indirect, or iv.trvvevtat, account that Kant oers.

1he Kantian indirect-duties iew has been ery inluential in
the deelopment o moral, political and social theory. In act, we can
still see its impact today. In the United States, or example, many
state and national laws continue to regard animal ethics issues` not
as duties that humans hold towards animals, but as rules that goern
conlicts oer property,` the ormal legal status o animals. lor
example, the 1exas Animal Cruelty Laws, ostensibly intended to
protect animals rom cruel and inhumane treatment, apply only to
domesticated animals under the custody o human beings. As a result,
they exclude birds, deer, rabbits, squirrels, and all other animals who
hae the misortune` not to be owned, and they protect
domesticated animals only in the interest o the humans who own
them. Similarly, the Animal \elare Act, the national law on animal
treatment, excludes pet stores, . state and country airs, liestock
.vivat iberatiov Pbito.ob, ava Potic, ]ovrvat, Volume II, Issue 2, 2004, pp. 1-19.
Je Sebo.
shows, rodeos, purebred dog and cat shows, and any other airs or
exhibitions intended to adance agricultural arts and sciences.`
U. S. Department o Agriculture, moreoer, interprets the Animal
\elare Act as also excluding cold-blooded animals, warm-blooded
animals not used or research, teaching, testing, experimentation, .
exhibition purposes, or as a pet, |and| arm animals used or ood,
iber, or production purposes.`
1hus, in the eyes o the law, animals
hae no intrinsic alue at all, they are important solely as property to
be bought and sold, as resources or human beneit.
Unortunately, animals will neer gain the moral and legal status they
desere i we continue to operate within the parameters o the
indirect-duties iew. 1hereore, i we are to progress toward the goal
o animal liberation, we must irst amend the principles on which the
animal cruelty laws are based. 1o this end, I will challenge the alidity
o the indirect-duties iew by arguing that Kantian ethics not only
permits but entails the inclusion o animal rights. I recognize that this
approach will put me at odds with Kant, but I can lie with that.
Kant is not always the best interpreter o his own theory, as his
questionable our examples` in Crovvaror/ demonstrate ,C 222
|4: 421|,.
lurthermore, he is inamous or his sexism in 1be
Metab,.ic. of Morat. and his racism in Obserations on the leelings
o the Beautiul and the Sublime,` yet we do not thereby conclude
that his ethical theory is sexist or racist. Rather, we simply accept that
we should distinguish Kant the man` rom Kantianism the
theory.` In the same way, I will now examine whether Kant is right
to exclude animals rom the sphere o direct moral concern. Does his
iew ollow rom a proper application o his own theory, or is it
simply the inconsistent result o uncritical prejudice
Many hae challenged Kant by pointing out that his argument
rests on the assumption that animals are nonrational, whereas we
now know that many animals possess signiicant rational capacities.

lor example, recent studies in cognitie ethology indicate that
chimpanzees and bonobos hae intellectual abilities similar to, i not
greater than, those o a normal human child: they can orm mental
representations o themseles and other minds, communicate
through language and symbols, discern cause-and-eect relationships,
sole simple logical and mathematical problems and much more
,\ise 19-23,. lurthermore, een though not all animals are able to
perorm higher cognitie unctions, they are nonetheless able to set
ends based on inclination and pursue the necessary means or
achieing them, oten creatiely. 1his research suggests that any
argument or the uniersal moral superiority o human beings will be
unsuccessul, because no matter what criteria we select, some animals
will always outperorm some humans.
1hereore, we hae good
reason to reject the simplistic iew o the animal mind that Kant
describes in his books, and to blur the moral line he orges between
humans on one hand and all other animals on the other.
.vivat iberatiov Pbito.ob, ava Potic, ]ovrvat, Volume II, Issue 2, 2004, pp. 1-19.
Je Sebo.
\hile this response has merit, I do not presently intend to
side with it, nor do I intend to deelop this line o reasoning any
urther, as it is an empirical argument that tries to it animals into the
Kantian iew, not an analysis o the iew itsel. Instead, or the sake
o the argument I wish to lay out, I will actually presuppose that all
animals are nonrational ,granting that this point encounters
substantial empirical resistance, in order to argue that the low moral
alue Kant extends to animals poses signiicant problems or his
ethical theory. Speciically, I will argue that the humanity ormula`
o the Categorical Imperatie ,CI,,
as presently understood,
commits Kant to claiming that human beings hae indirect moral
status, een though he asserts that they are ends in themseles. I will
then show that the humanity ormula, because o this problem,
clashes not only with the other ormulas o the CI, but also with the
ery sensibilities on which the moral law is based. I will conclude by
suggesting that we can sole this problem only by extending the
moral radar, and that our only means or doing so will incorporate
animals into it. In short, I will argue that Kantian ethics, in order to
protect the ulnerabilities o human beings, must protect animals as

1he Kantian Argument against Animal Rights
I begin by outlining exactly why Kant beliees animals do not
hae direct moral status.
lirst, what does it mean or something to
hae direct moral status It means that one must regard that thing an
end in itsel, or rather, as a being whose alue commands the respect
o all rational agents. In contrast, i something has indirect moral
status, one must regard that thing not or its own sake, but to comply
with a duty one has towards something else. In this sense we hae
indirect moral duties concerning inanimate objects. lor instance, we
are obliged not to burn down houses, smudge paintings with our
ingertips, or rip the heads o teddy bears not because these things
hae rights, but because they hae alue to people who do. O
course, the act that people care or these things is contingent. 1he
same inanimate object can moe in and out o moral standing based
entirely on external actors: or example, whether a human being
alues it, or whether it continues to beneit humans in general. 1his is
why Kant considers inanimate objects to be relatie ends` ,ends
whose alue is dependent on our desires, rather than objectie
ends` ,ends in themseles, ,C 228 |42|,.
Kant argues that animals are relatie ends in much the same
way: we must treat them kindly not because they hae rights we
should consider, but because they hae alue to people who do hae
rights. In this sense, ripping the head o a kitten is no worse than
ripping the head o a teddy bear: it is wrong not because it harms the
kitten, but because it harms a person who cares about the kitten.

Granted, Kant says that harming animals is wrong or an additional
reason: though not wrong in itsel, it might habituate us to become
.vivat iberatiov Pbito.ob, ava Potic, ]ovrvat, Volume II, Issue 2, 2004, pp. 1-19.
Je Sebo.
more iolent towards other human beings ,as humans and
nonhumans hae similar behaioral responses to pain,. But this
reason is equally contingent and indirect, or een though it goerns
our treatment o animals, it does so only or our own beneit: abusing
animals is wrong because it might hurt us. O course, Kant realizes
that one can hae indirect moral status without thereby being a
relatie end, otherwise human beings would be relatie ends too.
Ater all, anything that lies in an ecosystem, let alone a social
community, can be a means to other ends, but something is a relatie
end i and only i that thing is veret, a means to other ends. Gien
this, why exactly does Kant beliee that animals are relatie ends
Kant deends his position on animals by citing the humanity
ormula o the CI, which states that humanity is an end to which we
hold direct moral duties. In Crovvaror/ , Kant writes:

Ratiovat vatvre ei.t. a. av eva iv it.etf. 1his is the way in which a
human being necessarily conceies his own existence, and it is
thereore a .vb;ectire principle o human actions. But it is also
the way in which eery other rational being conceies his
existence, on the same rational ground which holds also or
me, hence it is at the same time an objectie principle rom
which, since it is a supreme practical ground, it must be
possible to derie all laws o the will. 1he practical imperatie
will thereore be the ollowing: .ct iv .vcb a ra, tbat ,ov treat
bvvavit,, rbetber iv ,ovr orv er.ov or iv av, otber er.ov, atra,. at
tbe .ave tive a. av eva, verer veret, a. a veav.. ,C 229-230 |4:

Kant adds that since human beings are rational, they count as
objectie ends: |As| rational beings, |human beings| must always at
the same time be alued as ends` ,C 230 |4: 430|,. 1his argument,
Kant beliees, is what allows us to remoe animals rom the sphere
o direct moral concern: I am obligated to you simply because you
are a member o the human race: a class o beings that, due to their
rational nature, are objectie ends, or ends in themseles. In contrast,
animal species hae mere price` instead o dignity`
, because
animals are capable o responding only to inclination, and dignity
stems only rom the presence o humanity. 1hus, Kant beliees that
een though animals are sentient beings capable o pleasure, pain and
happiness, they are not objectie ends: their alue is dependent solely
on the desires o humans.

1he Problem with the Humanity Iormula
Importantly, under this interpretation o the humanity
ormula, rational nature is both necessary and suicient
or direct
moral status: we are objectie ends because we are rational, and
animals are relatie ends because they are not. Perhaps Kant
interprets the humanity ormula this way because he wants to aoid
.vivat iberatiov Pbito.ob, ava Potic, ]ovrvat, Volume II, Issue 2, 2004, pp. 1-19.
Je Sebo.
suggesting that humanity is limited to human beings. As 1homas lill,
Jr. discusses in his edition o the Crovvaror/, Kant intends or the
moral radar to include any being with a capacity or reason, such as
angels or rational aliens ,269,. But while he accomplishes this goal
through the humanity ormula, I beliee that he does so at a great
price: by claiming that humanity is vece..ar, or direct moral status, he
imposes serious constraints on the duties we can derie rom the CI.
Speciically, he allows or a ery limited set o duties that simply do
not account or our substantial ulnerabilities as humans. In what
ollows, I will explain why I beliee this is an important problem or
Kant, and I will conclude that we can sole it only by considering
humanity to be suicient, but not necessary, or direct moral status.
1he implication will be that animals might just hae direct moral
status ater all.
I, as Kant suggests, humanity is necessary or direct moral
status, then our alue as ends is dependant on the act that we
possess a capacity or reason. As lill notes in his article lumanity
as an Lnd in Itsel` ,1980,, Kant repeatedly uses the phrase
humanity in a person` in 1be Metab,.ic. of Morat., suggesting that
humanity is not a description o a particular species, but rather a
property ound in all people, whether or not they happen to be
biologically human ,lill 85,. Kant also supports this interpretation
when he introduces the humanity ormula in Crovvaror/ , writing,
Ratiovat vatvre exists as an end in itsel,` and, 1he practical
imperatie will thereore be the ollowing: Act in such a way that you
treat humanity, whether iv your own person or iv any other person,
always at the same time as an end, neer merely as a means` ,G 229-
230 |4: 429|, emphasis mine,. 1his passage implies that our moral
duties reer not to us, nor to those around us, nor een to the
communities in which we lie, rather, they reer to nothing other
than rea.ov it.etf-the rational nature that permeates us and allows us
to act out o reerence or the moral law. And since humanity, which
aords us dignity instead o mere price, is coextensie with, i not
identical to, rational nature, it i. tbe ratiovat vatvre iv bvvav. tbat o..e..e.
aigvit,, vot tbe bvvav. tbev.etre..
lurther passages in the Crovvaror/ support this analysis. lor
example, in Crovvaror/ , Kant argues:

Now i an action done out o duty is supposed to exclude
totally the inluence o inclination, and, along with inclination,
eery object o olition, then nothing remains that could
determine the will except objectiely the law and subjectiely
pure respect or this practical law. . 1hat preeminent good
which we call moral` consists thereore in nothing but the
idea o the law in itsel, which certainly is present only in a
rational being-so ar as that idea, and not an expected result,
is the determining ground o the will. ,C 202 |4: 400|, 203 |4:
.vivat iberatiov Pbito.ob, ava Potic, ]ovrvat, Volume II, Issue 2, 2004, pp. 1-19.
Je Sebo.

Moreoer, in Crovvaror/ Kant claims, Autonomy is thus
the basis o the dignity o human nature and o eery rational nature`
,G 236 |4: 436|,. Kant beliees that this argument grounds the claim
that human beings hae direct moral status yet animals do not,
because only humans are connected to rational nature. loweer, I
am not sure that this distinction holds-not because I beliee that
animals hae direct moral status under this interpretation o the
humanity ormula, but because I beliee that humans might not.
Consider Crovvaror/ , where Kant discusses our rational nature.

le writes:

|A rational being| has two perspecties rom which he can
consider himsel and rom which he can acknowledge the
laws goerning the use o his powers and consequently
goerning all his actions. le can consider himsel irst so ar
as he belongs to the world o sense, under laws o nature
,heteronomy,, and secondly-so ar as he belongs to the
intelligible world-under laws that are not empirical but,
being independent o nature, are ounded on reason alone.
,C 252 |4: 452|,

Kant distinguishes autonomy rom heteronomy to support
the argument that we must imagine ourseles as transcendentally ree
,autonomous,, or otherwise we would not be subject to the moral
law. loweer, he grants that we must also imagine ourseles as part
o the causal order ,heteronomous,, and that the perspectie rom
which we are ree is no more compelling than that rom which we are
not. It is this point that presents a problem or the notion that our
moral status is based on our humanity, or i it is true that we must
imagine ourseles as both autonomous and heteronomous, and i it is
also true that moral duty reers directly ,and exclusiely, to rational
nature, then it ollows that we hae direct moral duties only to our
avtovov,. In other words, whereas we hae a direct moral duty to
cultiate and presere our rational nature, we hae, at best, an
indirect moral duty to care or our physical bodies. Ater all, they
reside in the world o sense, and so they, along with all the
inclination-based ends they pursue, are subject only to the laws o
physical causation. 1hus, considered in themseles ,apart rom being
empirically necessary or our agency,, they hae mere price, not
Accordingly, all our negatie moral duties
must all under
two main categories: the duty to aoid maxims that insult or rustrate
the process o reason, and the duty to aoid maxims that hinder the
physical processes required or rational behaior. lor example, it is
always wrong to tell a lie or make a alse promise, because such

.vivat iberatiov Pbito.ob, ava Potic, ]ovrvat, Volume II, Issue 2, 2004, pp. 1-19.
Je Sebo.
behaior misrepresents the world to other rational beings and thereby
insults the dignity o rational nature. Kant argues or this conclusion
through the alse promising example in Crovvaror/ , as well as
through arguments elsewhere condemning lying, mockery, and
serility. As lill notes, Kant is unusual, at least compared to moral
philosophers today, in stressing the moral importance o attitude and
gesture aside rom their consequences. Mockery is opposed, whether
or not it is eectie or the purpose o reorm or deterrent, because it
relects a disrespectul attitude toward the humanity o others` ,lill
9,. Additionally, under this iew, it is always wrong to consume
drugs and alcohol, because they seem to negatiely impact our
capacity to perorm higher cognitie unctions. Kant argues or this
conclusion in many passages as well, claiming, or example, that one
should neer consume opiates or alcohol because they cause one to
be temporarily irrational, with a weakened capacity to use his powers
purposiely` ,MM 180 |42|,.
On the other hand, we hae no negatie duties to aoid
maxims that do not hinder rational agency. lor example, while I hae
a duty not to chop o your head ,because the proper unctioning o
your brain is required or your agency,, I hae no similar duty not to
chop o your arm, because such an act would not hinder your
capacity or reason in the least. O course, it might hinder your ability
to pursue speciic moral ends ,as might losing your car, job or any
other material possession,, but it would not hinder your capacity to
pursue moral ends in general, you would simply hae to set new ends
based on your newound physical limitations. In act, the amputation
o certain body parts would lead to a aective o the temptations
associated with inclination, thereby allowing reason to hold a irmer
grasp on your moties.
Granted, one could argue that our physical
nature has moral alue because o its connection to our autonomy,
but why should an inclination hae airect moral status simply because
it resides in a body that also happens to house a capacity or reason
1his would be tantamount to arguing that a dog has direct moral
status simply because he lies in a building that also happens to
house a human. In other words, the connection between our
autonomy and our physical nature is eery bit as contingent and
indirect as the connection between rational agents, nonrational
animals, and inanimate objects. Consequently, the humanity ormula
reduces all duties not directly concerned with reason to indirect moral
It is in this respect that the humanity ormula clashes with
the other ormulas o the CI, as well as with our moral sensibilities,
or it commits us to an untenable demarcation o direct and indirect
moral duties. lor example, we hae a direct moral duty not to
anesthetize patients prior to surgery, yet we hae a mere indirect
moral duty not to rape.
1his consequence, aside rom being plainly ridiculous, is
inconsistent with the uniersal law ormula o the CI, rom which we
derie a direct moral duty not to rape. Since rape is an interpersonal
.vivat iberatiov Pbito.ob, ava Potic, ]ovrvat, Volume II, Issue 2, 2004, pp. 1-19.
Je Sebo.
act predicated on unwilling submission, it is impossible or one to
rape another without ailing the contradiction in conception test, or
by uniersalizing rape, one necessarily wills to be an vvrittivg
participant in the act. 1hus, one cannot coherently imagine rape as a
uniersal law, and so the maxim ails under the CI.
1his presents a
problem or Kant, because he draws an equialence between the
humanity and uniersal law ormulas in Crovvaror/ , implying that
one could, in principle, use them interchangeably:

|1he| principle So act in relation to eery rational being
,both yoursel and others, that this being may at the same
time count in your maxim as an end in itsel` is.basically the
same as the principle, Act on a maxim which at the same
time embodies in itsel its own uniersal alidity or eery
rational being`.` ,238 |4: 438|,

1hus, we cannot argue that inclination has no direct moral
status while maintaining that we hae a direct moral duty not to rape.
Not only would this argument render the CI incoherent, but it would
undercut the orce o the rape prohibition in the irst place. Ater all,
the desire or rape ,as well as the aersion to it, is a physical and
psychological drie that has no direct impact on our capacity or
reason. O course, one could argue that in the case o rape, the pain
and trauma incurred renders the ictim less capable o acting
rationally, but this consequence is contingent and not unequiocally
true. lor example, people oten claim that traumatic eents sere as
catat,.t. or rational behaior, helping them to reprioritize their lies
and ocus on what is important. Moreoer, some philosophers een
claim that pain and suering is an important channel or rational
deelopment. Aristotle, or example, argues that trauma is a cathartic
experience that allows us to oercome emotie impulses in the
uture, while Nietzsche argues that masters o morality lourish in lie
only by oercoming seere physical and psychological challenges.
1hereore, i we are to deem rape immoral with the humanity
ormula, or at least presere the moral weight o the rape prohibition
deried rom the uniersal law ormula, we need to do so based on
grounds other than that it has the potential to hinder our rational
agency. 1his demonstrates that while rational nature may be the .ovrce
o the duty not to rape, it cannot be the object. 1he object o this
duty must be an inclination-based end not to be raped, or perhaps
more generally, not to be abused and exploited. But i this is the case,
then rational nature is not a necessary property o att the ends we
endorse ,e.g. the end to not be raped,, rather, it is the tool that
determines whether we should endorse them in the irst place. 1hen,
once an end meets the requirements o the moral law, it commands
our respect whereer it may be ound-be it in a rational agent or in
a nonrational animal. 1hereore, we cannot maintain the duty not to
rape unless we extend its scope to animals as well, since they also
.vivat iberatiov Pbito.ob, ava Potic, ]ovrvat, Volume II, Issue 2, 2004, pp. 1-19.
Je Sebo.
desire not to be abused and exploited. And since we cannot apply the
moral law arbitrarily, endorsing the end not to be raped whereer we
may ind it obliges us to extend the same courtesy to other
inclination-based ends: how we treat one determines how we treat
the rest.
\e are thus aced with a dilemma: either we uphold rational
nature as both necessary and suicient or direct moral status,
thereby accepting the permissibility o all acts that do not directly
hinder it, or we uphold rational nature as suicient or direct moral
status but not necessary, thereby accepting that it need not be present
in the objects o our duties. Our decision regarding this dilemma will
be based on whether or not we choose to reconsider the moral status
o inclination. On one hand, i we decide that all inclination-goerned
beings hae the same low status ascribed to animals, then we must
extend this low status to the perspectie rom which we iew
ourseles as heteronomous. On the other hand, i we realuate
inclination such that we proide a binding proscription o acts such
as rape, then we must extend similar consideration to all inclination-
based ends, whether or not they happen to reside in a creature with a
capacity or reason. \e must, in other words, establish Kantian
grounds or distinguishing moral agents ,those with rights and duties,
rom moral patients ,those with rights but no duties,. I beliee that
this second option is not only the more plausible o the two, but also
the more consistent with the primary text and the secondary
literature, as well as the better means or resoling other issues
associated with the Kantian scheme. In what ollows I will support
these claims, and in doing so I will lesh out precisely what I mean
when I say that animals hae direct moral status.

1he Kantian Argument for Animal Rights
1he Primary 1ext
1he animal rights position its well with 1be Metab,.ic. of
Morat., where Kant claims that we hae a moral obligation to pursue
the happiness o others. Kant writes, \hen it comes to my
promoting happiness as an end that is also a duty, this must thereore
be the happiness o otber human beings, whose ,permitted, eva tbv.
va/e v, orv eva a. rett` ,MM 151 |6:388|,. Kant een speciies that
this type o happiness is inclination-based happiness, or in his words,
natural happiness ,which consists in satisaction with what nature
bestows, and so with what one ev;o,. as a git rom without,` ,ibia,.
1hus, according to Kant, we hae a moral duty to promote the
permissible inclination-based ends o human beings. And gien that
inclination-based ends reside in animals as well as humans, the
ollowing question is raised: is the duty to pursue the permissible
ends o others limited to the community o moral agents, or does it
extend to all sentient beings
1he answer to this question hinges on what is required or an
end to be permissible` in the releant sense. Interestingly, seeral
.vivat iberatiov Pbito.ob, ava Potic, ]ovrvat, Volume II, Issue 2, 2004, pp. 1-19.
Je Sebo.
sections in the Crovvaror/ suggest that an end can be permissible
een i its possessor is not a moral agent. lor example, Kant states in
the Crovvaror/ that or an end to be permissible, it must be
pursued not out o reerence or the CI, but only in accordance with
it: an action that is compatible with the autonomy o the will is
ervittea, one that does not harmonize with it is forbiaaev` ,C 240
|4:439|,. In other words, an end is permissible i and only i one can
measure it against the moral law without exposing a atal
contradiction, either in conception or in will. 1his requirement,
howeer, does not imply that the being whose end is in question
must evgage in such measurement, or that the end must be pursued
out o respect or, or een in recognition o, the moral law.
does not render an end impermissible, ater all, merely by pursuing it
out o inclination. lor i this were the case, then we would hae a
moral duty to deny ourseles and others o att ends based on
inclination-up to and including happiness itsel. In other words, we
would hae to ensure that eeryone in the kingdom o ends lies the
lie o an ascetic. And clearly, when Kant argues that we hae a duty
to pursue the permissible ends o others, he does not mean that we
hae a duty to preent others rom being happy. Rather, he means
that when the ends o others are consistent with the requirements o
reason, we hae a duty to pursue them.
1hereore, Kantian ethics
does allow or animals to hae permissible ends in the releant sense.

1he Secondary Literature
1he argument that moral agency is not necessary or direct
moral status also has roots in contemporary Kant scholarship,
especially regarding the purpose o the CI. lor example, Barbara
lerman ,1984, writes, I iew the CI procedure as being designed to
draw our attention to those eatures o our condition-as rational
agents in this world and as members o a community o persons-
that sere as the conditions o our willings` ,584,. lere, it is
signiicant that lerman sets rational agents in this world` apart
rom members o a community o persons,` as it suggests that the
two categories are not necessarily identical. And i Kantianism allows
or an indiidual to be a member o a community o persons`
without also being a rational agent`, then we might hae Kantian
grounds or distinguishing moral agents rom moral patients-which
is necessary i we are to assert that animals are objectie ends.

lerman hints at this possibility when she argues that angels
do not hae a positie duty o beneicence towards human beings
because they are not ulnerable and dependent,` and so the
argument or beneicence could not require them to reject a maxim
o nonbeneicence` ,590,. In other words, since angels do not require
help rom others, they may choose not to lend aid to others without
ear o contradiction. In contrast, lerman argues, since human
beings are both autonomous and heteronomous, they must reject the
maxim o nonbeneicence in order to pass the contradiction o will
.vivat iberatiov Pbito.ob, ava Potic, ]ovrvat, Volume II, Issue 2, 2004, pp. 1-19.
Je Sebo.
test. She writes, 1he CI procedure is to show that, or any o us
|human beings|, the aailability o the help o others is not something
it can be rational to orgo,` and that, |1he| argument that deeats
the maxim o nonbeneicence leads, positiely, to a duty o mutual
aid` ,584, 592,.
Interestingly, this passage implies that i angels rere
ulnerable and dependent,` they would hae a positie duty o
beneicence towards human beings. lor een though they
,presumably, hae a superior capacity or reason, they would still be
obliged to us because o our shared need or help. Let me spell out
this point by emphasizing what it is not asserting. lirst, it is not
suggesting that human ends would translate to angel duties only i the
angels alued them too. Len i the angels had no respiratory
systems, or example, they would still not be permitted to rid the
unierse o oxygen. Simply put, the angels would be obliged to help
us not because tbe, alued our ends, but because re did. Second, this
point is not implying that the angels would hold duties to us only i
they were dependant on us. Len i they were not in the position to
beneit rom us at all, they would still not be permitted to ignore our
needs, or to exploit us or personal gain. 1his is because or them,
the grounding o the duty o beneicence would not be a
contractualist desire or reciprocity, it would be a logical consequence
o the alue they place on help in general.
In other words, they
would be obliged to help us because they would be dependent on
otber., not because they would be dependent on v.. As lerman

|It| is the act o our dependency-that we are, equally,
dependent ,again: not that we are equally dependent,-that is
the ground o the duty to help. I may not be indierent to
others not because I would thereby risk the loss o needed
help ,this is not a duty o airness or reciprocity, but because
I cannot escape our shared condition o dependency. ,592,

1his argument carries with it important implications
regarding animals, because the relationship between ulnerable and
dependent` angels and humans is analogous to that between humans
and animals: humans hae a superior capacity or reason compared to
animals, but we are neertheless bound to them by irtue o our
shared needs-those eatures o our condition.that sere as the
conditions o our willing.` 1hus, een though animals might neer be
able to return the aor, so to speak, they still hae ends to which we
hold direct moral duties. In this respect, lerman proides us with a
Kantian precedent, or at least the beginnings o a Kantian rationale,
or the claim that a being can hae moral rights without haing moral
duties. Speciically, while heteronomy alone is not suicient or one
to be a moral agent, it is suicient or one to be a moral patient, or to
hae ends that a moral agent must consider.

.vivat iberatiov Pbito.ob, ava Potic, ]ovrvat, Volume II, Issue 2, 2004, pp. 1-19.
Je Sebo.
So are animals objectie ends 1hat depends on how we
interpret the term. Kant writes that an objectie end must proide
. uniersal principles, . principles alid and necessary or all
rational beings and or eery act o will` ,G 228 |4: 42|,. Animals do
not seem to satisy this criterion, because not erer, rational being has
principles alid and necessary` or treating them as ends in
themseles. lor example, God, angels, and other purely rational
beings are not obliged to endorse inclination because they hae none:
the only objectie end or them is rational nature itsel. On the other
hand, God, angels, and other purely rational beings are not moral
agents. Kant writes in Crovvaror/ that since pure autonomy is not
tempted by inclination and pure heteronomy does not hae
transcendental reedom, both autonomy and heteronomy are
necessary or moral agency ,G 245 |4: 445|, G 240 |4: 440|,.

1hereore, een though a strict interpretation o objectie end`
excludes animals, perhaps so strict an interpretation is unnecessary
when our discussion is about the scope o the moral radar. lor not
only is the moral perspectie o non-moral agents beside the point,
but it can be disastrous as well, especially i we use it to determine
what deseres moral consideration. ,1he duty not to rape, or
example, simply cannot be as contingent and indirect as the duty not
to rip the head o a teddy bear-at least not i we want to remain
charitable to Kant., So or our present purposes, I submit that we
should consider objectie end` as extending to all ends that proide
principles alid and necessary` or eery moral agent, not eery
rational being. In this case, the world o objectie ends includes not
only rational nature, but also our physical nature, animals, and
eerything else that we necessarily endorse through our willings.

1he Kantian Problem of Lxceptional Human Beings
linally, extending the moral radar to include animals proides
a solution to the Kantian problem o exceptional` human beings
such as inants, the elderly, and the seerely mentally retarded. As
lill notes, a serious worry` about the humanity ormula is that it
places a comparatiely higher alue on rational capacity,
deelopment, control, and honor than most morally conscientious
and reasonable people are prepared to grant` ,lill 98,. Indeed,
Kantians who wish to ascribe moral status to exceptional human
beings are orced to conront a serious oeremphasis on rationality in
the text, and any solution that preseres moral worth only or the
rational is destined to ail. lor example, lerman tries to resole the
issue by arguing that inants hae the otevtiat to deelop a capacity
or rationality, claiming, \e might regard an inant as one whose
present inability to help will be oercome in the passage o time`
,lerman 593,. But this claim is not true in all cases, and it is not
applicable to the elderly and seerely mentally retarded. Besides, we
hae good reason to reject the argument that we can attribute rights
to beings based on rights they may one day hae. Ater all, we do not
.vivat iberatiov Pbito.ob, ava Potic, ]ovrvat, Volume II, Issue 2, 2004, pp. 1-19.
Je Sebo.
allow law students to conict criminals in the courtroom, nor do we
permit medical interns to perorm open-heart surgery. As Peter
Singer puts it, a prince, by irtue o being a potential king ,and haing
a high probability o actualizing this potential,, does not hae the
rights o a king. Gien this, how can we maintain that nonrational
humans hae moral rights i rationality is a necessary condition

Laurence 1homas ,2003, recognizes this problem, writing:

Could indiiduals |who hae seere mental retardation| .
see themseles as Legislators o uniersal moral law or as
members o the Kingdom o Lnds \ould it be reasonable
to expect them to see themseles in this way Could they be
expected to hae sel-respect on the basis o reasoning Just
what does it mean or others to hae Kantian respect or
SMR persons ,1homas 9-10,

loweer, 1homas oers a solution that also preseres the
logocentric nature o the humanity ormula. le argues: |In the case
o SMR persons| the mentally deicient is a person or whom
something went terribly wrong. 1here is something that he ought to
hae ,or should hae had, but lacks, which is ery dierent rom
merely lacking something` ,22,. 1hus, 1homas sets apart rational and
nonrational sentient beings by reerencing teteotog, as the releant
distinction: the seerely mentally retarded might hae the same
intellectual capacities as animals, but they were veavt to be rational,
and so we should treat them as i they are. loweer, this argument is
een worse than the preious one, or not only does 1homas neglect
to explain the nature o this teleology, but he also reuses to explain
why it is morally releant. Ater all, i I were to inject a rock with a
rationality serum,` would it then hae direct moral status erev if my
experiment ailed and it neer gained the capacity or rationality

Surely not. It is not a dormant or stunted capacity or rationality that
gies exceptional humans alue, it is the act that they are sentient
creatures with the capacity or pain, pleasure, and happiness.

1he Challenge Ahead
In this paper, I hae argued that i rational nature is a
necessary condition or direct moral status, then we must accept that
our physical nature, and all the inclination-based ends we pursue,
hae indirect moral status. 1he duties we hold towards one another
based on maxims unrelated to reason are no more binding than the
ones we hold towards animals. 1hereore, either our physical nature
has the same low status we attribute to animals, or animals hae the
same high status we attribute to our physical nature. In response to
this dilemma, I hae argued that the second option is not only the
more plausible o the two, but also the more consistent with the
.vivat iberatiov Pbito.ob, ava Potic, ]ovrvat, Volume II, Issue 2, 2004, pp. 1-19.
Je Sebo.
primary text and the secondary literature, as well as the better means
or resoling the Kantian issue o exceptional human beings.
1hus, we need to iew the humanity ormula as representing
not a necessary condition or moral status but a suicient one: rather
than establish that humanity is the ovt, end in itsel, it establishes only
that humanity i. an end in itsel ,thus presering space on the moral
radar or nonrational beings,. Consequently, while autonomy may be
the source o moral obligation, it cannot be its sole object, because
through our acts o willing we endorse and pledge to presere all
permissible inclination-based ends, whether we ind them in other
humans or in animals. 1his obligation is a logical consequence o the
alue we place on inclination in general, and it is ital to our
experience as dependent beings in a world o limited resources and
unlimited dangers. So are animals objectie ends 1o the extent that
we are, yes. 1he domain o ends extends beyond the community o
moral agents: we hae a duty to promote the permissible ends o att
creatures inluenced by inclination and capable o pleasure, pain, and
In closing, I would like to add a word about the practical
implications o my argument. I understand that a theoretical
discussion about Kantian ethics does not lend itsel to immediate
social reorm, and that no one will race to Congress with a new
policy proposal upon reading it. But as I mentioned at the outset, my
purpose in this argument is not to be the last word on the discussion.
Rather, it is to begin the discussion anew. By addressing a
oundational principle or animal-rights opponents and showing that
it in act entails animal rights, I hae demonstrated the unsoundness
o a position that presently deines the legal status o animals. But
more needs to be said. Since my ocus has been on the act that we
owe animals obligations in general, I hae not yet discussed what
those obligations might be, nor hae I considered what legal
consequences they might hae. 1o remedy this, I will now suggest a
ew practical implications o my iew, granting that the subject
deseres a much more comprehensie treatment than I can oer
\e know that i we are to regard animals as exalted aboe
all price,` then we cannot also regard them as our property. But how
ar does that extend \e presently buy and sell animals or ood,
clothing, entertainment, experimentation and more, we use them
merely as means` not only or economic sustenance, but also or the
practices and traditions that shape our cultural identity. So, i animals
hae direct moral status, does that mean we should stop using them
altogether Some will argue that it does not, because we can always
reorm our institutions to accommodate the permissible ends o the
animals we use ,and thus treat them as ends in themseles as well as
means to our own ends, which is permissible under the Kantian
iew,. 1his solution seems reasonable in principle. But in practice,
extending due consideration to animals would render most, i not all,
.vivat iberatiov Pbito.ob, ava Potic, ]ovrvat, Volume II, Issue 2, 2004, pp. 1-19.
Je Sebo.
o these institutions impossible, or at the ery least economically
1hereore, by accepting that animals hae direct moral
status, we seem obligated to remoe them rom the sphere o human
commerce entirely. lor that reason, een though speculation at this
point might be premature, I suspect that when the theoretical dust
settles ,and this may not happen or quite some time,, Kantians will
emerge as dedicated proponents or the animal liberation moement.

I presented ersions o this paper at the 1exas Undergraduate Philosophy
Conerence and the lirst Annual Animal Liberation Student Association
Conerence. I would like to thank eeryone there or their excellent questions and
comments, particularly Julie lunter, Je Casey, Anthony Nocella, II, Stee Best
and Karen Dais. In addition, I am grateul to Mark Bernstein, 1homas lill, Jr.
and especially Richard Galin or proiding me with extensie and helpul notes.
linally, I would like to thank the editors and reiewers o .vivat iberatiov
Pbito.ob, c Pvbtic Potic, and ^ibito, in which a preious ersion o this paper
,entitled Are luman Beings Lnds In 1hemseles`, was published.

.vivat !etfare .ct a. .vevaea , USC, 2131-2156,. National Agricultural Library,
Agricultural Research Serice, U. S. Department o Agriculture.

Craword, Richard. Animal \elare Act Interpretie Summaries.` National
Agricultural Library, Agricultural Research Serice, U. S. Department o

Ater Kant introduces the supreme moral law in Crovvaror/ , he applies it to
our moral dilemmas, deriing the ollowing conclusions: ,1, \e hae a duty not to
commit suicide. ,2, \e hae a duty not to make alse promises. ,3, \e hae a duty
to cultiate our talents. ,4, \e hae a duty to help others. Scholars hae challenged
his arguments, particularly the irst and third, and many hae deeloped new ways
o applying his theory that contradict him.

lere and throughout the rest o the paper, I will use animal` as shorthand or
nonhuman animal.`

I owe this argument to Peter Singer ,2002,, who argues that we should reject
speciesism` or the same reason we reject racism and sexism: 1he white racist
claims that whites are superior to blacks, but this is alse, although there are
dierences among indiiduals, some blacks are superior to some whites in all o the
capacities and abilities that could conceiably be releant` ,3,.

Kant considers the CI the supreme principle o morality. le presents seeral
ersions, or ormulas, o the CI in Crovvaror/ : the uniersal law ormula, the
uniersal law o nature ormula, the autonomy ormula, the humanity ormula and
the kingdom o ends ormula. Kant beliees that each ormula expresses the same
supreme principle ,though whether this is true is an open question that scholars
continue to debate,. In this paper I will ocus primarily on the humanity ormula, as
it is most releant to this discussion, but I will briely touch on the uniersal law
ormula later on.

lere, I take direct moral status` to be deined in terms o direct moral duty.
1hat is, a person to whom we owe a direct moral duty can be said to hae direct
moral status. I take indirect moral status` to hae the same relationship with
indirect moral duty.

.vivat iberatiov Pbito.ob, ava Potic, ]ovrvat, Volume II, Issue 2, 2004, pp. 1-19.
Je Sebo.

Note that the person does not need to care for the kitten. lor example, the
rancher whose cattle die prematurely may suer only economically, but he suers
Kant distinguishes between dignity and price as ollows: In the kingdom o ends
eerything has either a rice or a aigvit,. \hateer has a price can be replaced by
something else as eqviratevt. \hateer by contrast is exalted aboe all price and so
admits o no equialent has dignity` ,G 235 |4: 434|,.

Barbara lerman ,1984, represents this iew, arguing that objects and animals
cannot respond to need as such, nor can they take my ends as their own,` and,
animals are not, strictly speaking, capable o proiding help, although they may o
course do things that are helpul to us` ,lerman 588, 593,. As a result, lerman
concludes ,based on Kantian grounds, no less, that the positie duty o beneicence
does not apply to nonrational beings.
Other philosophers who hae supported this position include lenry J.
McCloskey ,199,, who argues that either actual or potential moral agency is a
necessary condition or moral status, and Carl \ellman ,1995,, who beliees that
the reedom to control onesel in a possible conrontation is a requirement or
moral status. Neither McCloskey nor \ellman beliees that nonhuman animals
hae moral status.

By necessary or direct status,` I mean that i one is not rational, then one will
not hae direct status. In contrast, by suicient or direct status,` I mean that i
one is rational, then one will hae direct status, but one can also hae direct status
without being rational. 1hus, suiciency without necessity preseres room on the
moral radar or nonrational beings. My argument here is that we are correct in
interpreting rational nature as suicient or direct status, but not in interpreting it
as necessary.

Negatie duties are duties vot to perorm certain actions, whereas positie duties
are duties to perorm certain actions.

Consider, or example, some arguments posed or orcible castration o
pathological sex oenders.

I owe a debt to 1om Regan here, because my argument that the humanity
ormula reduces human beings to mere receptacles o rational nature is similar to
his argument that utilitarianism reduces human beings to mere receptacles o
pleasure. In act, Regan and I een draw the same conclusion: people should hae
moral alue because they are the subjects o lies that are important to them, not
because their bodies are ehicles or that which does hae moral alue.

My implementation o the uniersal law ormula here is based the interpretation
Richard Galin ,1991, oers regarding the contradiction in conception test.
Supporting a position preiously argued or by Marcus Singer in Ceveratiatiov iv
tbic. ,New \ork, 1961,, Galin criticizes three general iews o the contradiction
in conception test, including the Causal Law Versions,` the 1eleological Law
Versions` and the Inconsistency o Intentions Views.` le then deends as an
alternatie the Strict Logical Impossibility View,` which deries the immorality o
an act rom the orm o its maxim, not rom the synthetic circumstances which
surround it. linally, Galin illustrates the superiority o the SLI` interpretation by
applying it to the cases o alse promising, lying, rape, slaery and stealing.
All an end needs to be permissible is this: it, along with all its necessary means,
must in compliance with the CI.

.vivat iberatiov Pbito.ob, ava Potic, ]ovrvat, Volume II, Issue 2, 2004, pp. 1-19.
Je Sebo.

Note that this argument does not preclude the possibility o there being degrees
o patienthood.

O course, I am not suggesting here that lerman agrees with my application o
her iew, because she most certainly does not ,see n. i or a brie summary o her
iew on animals,. Instead, I am suggesting that her iew is consistent with, perhaps
een committed to, the inclusion o animals on the moral radar.

One might argue that we ought to pursue the happiness o others not because
happiness is morally aluable, but because our beneicence will inluence others to
be beneicent as well. 1hus, the argument might go, the duty to pursue the
happiness o others does not extend to nonrational animals, because they are not
capable o understanding beneicence as such. But my response to this challenge is
the same: the duty o beneicence is not grounded in a contractualist desire or
reciprocity, it is a logical consequence o the alue we place on help in general.

lor urther ,non-Kantian, arguments regarding this point, reer to MacCormick
,196, and leinberg ,1980,. MacCormick argues that to hae a right is to hae an
interest that should be protected by the duties o others, and leinberg contends
that to hae a right is to be a claimant, or to hae interests on behal o which
others can speak. 1his interest theory o rights is compatible not only with animal
rights, but also with the rights o human inants and groups o people. I should
note, howeer, that leinberg qualiies this claim by arguing that .ecie. o animals
cannot hae any rights-not een the right to surie-because they do not hae
collectie interests. 1his is an important point, especially when our discussion
enters the realm o endangered species preseration. lor my purposes in this paper,
though, I will limit our discussion to the rights o indiidual animals.

In support o the claim that the purely heteronomous are not subject to duty,
Kant writes: |Autonomy| o the will is unaoidably bound up with |morality| or
rather is its oundation` ,245 |4: 445|,. Arguing that the same is true o the purely
autonomous, he writes:
A will whose maxims necessarily agree with the laws o autonomy is a bot,,
absolutely good will. 1he dependence o a will not absolutely good on the principle
o autonomy ,that is, moral necessitation, is obtigatiov. Obligation can thus not apply
to a holy being. ,240 |4: 439|,

1his argument owes a signiicant debt to Michael 1ooley, who deelops a
similar line o reasoning in his article, In Deense o Abortion and Inanticide.`
le writes:
Suppose at some uture time a chemical were to be discoered which when injected
into the brain o a kitten would cause the kitten to deelop into a cat possessing a
brain o the sort possessed by humans, and consequently into a cat haing all the
psychological capabilities characteristic o normal adult humans. Such cats would
be able to think, to use language, and so on. Now it would surely be morally
indeensible in such a situation to hold that it is seriously wrong to kill an adult
member o the species lomo sapiens without also holding that it is wrong to kill
any cat that has undergone such a process o
deelopment: there would be no dierence. ,205,
\ith this oundation in place, 1ooley introduces a series o thought experiments in
support o the thesis that killing an injected kitten would be morally equialent to
killing a normal kitten, and so potential agency-produced naturally` or
otherwise-is morally irreleant. 1o this eect he argues: It perhaps needs to be
emphasized here that the moral symmetry principle does not imply that neither

.vivat iberatiov Pbito.ob, ava Potic, ]ovrvat, Volume II, Issue 2, 2004, pp. 1-19.
Je Sebo.

action is morally wrong. Perhaps both actions are wrong, een seriously so. 1he
moral symmetry principle implies only that i they are wrong, they are so to
precisely the same degree` ,ibia,. Len though 1ooley deelops this argument as a
means or addressing abortion and euthanasia, it is releant or this discussion as
well, as he grounds it on the premise that teleology is not an adequate surrogate or
direct moral status.

As James Rachels notes, Cruel methods are used in the meat-production
industry because such methods are economical, they enable the producers to
market a product that people can aord` ,503,.


leinberg, Joel. Rigbt., ]v.tice, ava tbe ovva. of ibert,. Princeton, NJ: Princeton
Uniersity Press. 1980.

lrankurt, larry. lreedom o the \ill and the Concept o a Person.` ]ovrvat of
Pbito.ob, 68. 191: 5-20.

Galin, Richard. Lthical lormalism: 1he Contradiction in Conception 1est.`
i.tor, of Pbito.ob, Qvartert, 8. 1991: pp. 38-408.

Gewirth, Alan. Rea.ov ava Moratit,. Chicago, IL: Uniersity o Chicago Press. 198.

lerman, Barbara. Mutual Aid and Respect or Persons.` tbic.. 1984: 5-602.

lill, 1homas. lumanity as an Lnd in Itsel.` tbic.. 1980: 84-89.

Kant, Immanuel. Duties to Animals and Spirits.` ectvre. ov tbic., trans. Louis
Inield. New \ork, N\: larper and Row. 1963: 239-241.

Kant, Immanuel. Crovvaror/ for tbe Metab,.ic. of Morat.. 1rans. Arnul Zweig.
Oxord: Oxord Uniersity Press. 2002.

Kant, Immanuel. 1be Metab,.ic. of Morat.. 1rans. Mary Gregor. Cambridge:
Cambridge Uniersity Press. 1996.

MacCormick, Neil. Children`s Rights: A 1est-Case or 1heories o Right.` .RP
62. 196: 305-31.

McCloskey, lenry J. Moral Rights and Animals.` vqvir, 22. 199: 23-54.

Rachels, James. Vegetarianism and the Other \eight Problem.` !orta vvger ava
Morat Obtigatiov.. Aiken,Laollette. 19. Rpt. in Covtevorar, Morat Probtev.. James
L. \hite, Ld.. Caliornia: \adsworth. 2003: 496-505.

Regan, 1om. 1he Case or Animal Rights.` v Defevce of .vivat.. Blackwell. 1985.
Rpt. in Covtevorar, Morat Probtev.. James L. \hite, Ld.. Caliornia: \adsworth.
2003: 481-489.

Singer, Peter. .vivat iberatiov. New \ork, N\: larperCollins Publishers. 2002.

1homas, Laurence. Kant on Lquality.` Cogvitire cievce. rivt .rcbire.. Article
316. October 4, 2003.

.vivat iberatiov Pbito.ob, ava Potic, ]ovrvat, Volume II, Issue 2, 2004, pp. 1-19.
Je Sebo.

1ooley, Michael, In Deense o Abortion and Inanticide.` 1be Probtev of .bortiov.
\adsworth, 1984. Rpt. in 1be .bortiov Covtrorer.,. Louis Pojman and lrancis
Beckwith, Lds. Boston, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers. 1994: 186-211.

\ellman, Carl. Reat Rigbt.. New \ork: Oxord Uniersity Press. 1995.

\ise, Steen. Ratttivg tbe Cage: 1orara egat Rigbt. for .vivat.. Cambridge: Perseus
Publishing. 2000.