Do We Have Duties to Nonhumans?

  • Kimberly K. Smith
Part of the AESS Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies and Sciences Series book series (AESS)


This chapter addresses the question, to whom do we owe justice? Or, in other words, who belongs to the moral community? Traditional moral theories usually limit the moral community to humans. Environmental ethicists, in contrast, argue that at least some nonhuman entities have moral status. This chapter reviews arguments concerning the moral status of animals, species, ecosystems, and nature itself. It includes discussion of intrinsic and instrumental value, as well as Elizabeth Anderson’s pluralist-expressivist value theory.

Further Reading

  1. Anderson, E.: Value in Ethics and Economics. Harvard University Press, Cambridge (1993)Google Scholar
  2. Frey, R.G.: Rights, interests, desires and beliefs. Am. Philos. Q. 16(3), 233–239 (July 1979)Google Scholar
  3. Katz, E.: Is there a place for animals in the moral consideration of nature? In: Light, A., Rolston III, H. (eds.) Environmental Ethics: An Anthology, pp. 85–94. Blackwell Pub, Madden, MA (2003)Google Scholar
  4. Midgley, M.: Animals and Why They Matter. University of Georgia Press, Athens (1984)Google Scholar
  5. Palmer, C.: Animal Ethics in Context. Columbia University Press, New York (2010)Google Scholar
  6. Regan, T.: The Case for Animal Rights. University of California Press, Berkeley (1983)Google Scholar
  7. Rolston III, H.: Duties to ecosystems. In: Callicott, B. (ed.) A Companion to the Sand County Almanac, pp. 246–274. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison (1987)Google Scholar
  8. Russow, L.-M.: Why do species matter? Environ. Ethics. 3(2), 101–112 (1981)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Singer, P.: Animal Liberation. Avon Books, New York (1977)Google Scholar
  10. Sober, E.: Philosophical problems for environmentalism. In: Norton, B. (ed.) The Preservation of Species. Princeton University Press, Princeton (1986)Google Scholar
  11. Taylor, P.: Respect for Nature. Princeton University Press, Princeton (1986)Google Scholar
  12. Walker, A.: In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York (1983)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kimberly K. Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Carleton CollegeNorthfieldUSA

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