Much contemporary writing on animal ethics is 'egalitarian' in the sense that otherwise similar harms (or goods) for people and non-human animals are thought to count equally. In this sense, animals and people can be said to have the same moral status ('pain is pain'). In these lectures, however, Professor Kagan will explore an alternative, hierarchical approach, according to which animals differ from people, and from one another, in terms of the moral significance of their lives, their goods and bads, and the various rights that they possess. He will sketch what a hierarchical approach might look like in a consequentialist framework, and -more complicatedly - in a deontological one, closing with some thoughts about the position of animals in foundational moral theories.
Shelly Kagan is Clark Professor of Philosophy at Yale. After receiving his BA from Wesleyan University in 1976, and his PhD from Princeton University in 1982, he taught at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Illinois at Chicago before moving to Yale in 1995. He is the author of the textbook Normative Ethics, which systematically reviews alternative positions concerning the basic rules of morality and their possible foundations, and The Limits of Morality, which challenges two of the most widely shared beliefs about the requirements of morality. Other books include Death and The Geometry of Desert.