Module 3

Throughout this module, we will move our focus to the applied branch of ethics known as animal ethics. Moral status (also known as moral considerability) will be one of our primary concepts of study in this module. Within the animal kingdom, who (or what) should be classified as a moral agent and do these agents possess instrumental and/or intrinsic worth?

Case Study: The Spotted Owl Case

The assertion that other people are moral agents seems straight-forward. What happens when the needs of humanity and the needs of the natural world collide?

It's the Thought (the Critical Thought) that Counts!

Both perspectives have strong points. Key questions:

  • How do we evaluate the tension between and among the competing perspectives?
  • Thinking back to module 1 - what kind of evidence are you considering, and, does the evidence matter here?
  • Should the owl or the ability to earn a livelihood take precedence? Why?
  • What are the assumptions guiding your evaluation - especially the assumptions concerning moral status and moral worth?


Key Terms