As readers of this newsletter are well aware, a major factor in the launch
of and credibility of the contemporary animal rights movement was the
publication of ethical theories about our treatment of other animals.
Following on the two seminal works -- Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation in 1975
and Tom Regan’s Case for Animal Rights in 1983 -- a second generation of
moral philosophers have continued to strengthen that conceptual
The most recent addition, Christine M. Korsgaard’s Fellow Creatures: Our Obligations to the Other Animals, has been reviewed positively in many venues, including the prestigious New York Review (March 21, 2019) and the Harvard Gazette (July 17, 2019). (Elitism aside, it is not insignificant that Korsgaard is at Harvard and Singer at Yale).
Korsgaard, a scholar of the philosophy of Kant, provides a strong case,
contra Kant, that we have a duty to other animals as conscious beings
that they are not simply tools or means to our ends. This strategy of
extending existing theories to include nonhuman animals continues to
transform the philosophical tradition from a catalogue of apologies for
human uniqueness and superiority to a paean to all animate life.