Moral Considerability and the Argument from Relevance

  • Oscar Horta


The argument from relevance expresses an intuition that, although shared by many applied ethicists, has not been analyzed and systematized in the form of a clear argument thus far. This paper does this by introducing the concept of value relevance, which has been used before in economy but not in the philosophical literature. The paper explains how value relevance is different from moral relevance, and distinguishes between direct and indirect ways in which the latter can depend on the former. These clarifications allow the argument to explain in detail how we can make two claims. The first one is that being a recipient of value should be the only criterion for full moral considerability. This follows if we accept that value relevance should determine, directly or indirectly, moral relevance. The second claim is that, given what the main theories of wellbeing imply regarding what entities can be recipients of value, sentience is both a sufficient and a necessary criterion for full moral considerability. The paper argues that this conclusion stands even if we hold views that consider other values different from sentience.


Full moral considerability Moral relevance Value relevance Sentience Speciesism 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fac. FilosofiaUniversity of Santiago de CompostelaSantiago de CompostelaSpain

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