Animals, Rights and Reason in Plutarch and Modern Ethics by Stephen T. Newmyer

By Stephen T. Newmyer

This groundbreaking quantity explores Plutarch's specific survival within the argument that animals are rational and sentient, and that we, as people, needs to take become aware of in their interests.

Exploring Plutarch's 3 animal-related treatises, in addition to passages from his moral treatises, Stephen Newmyer examines arguments that, strikingly, foreshadow these present in the works of such widespread animal rights philosophers as Peter Singer and Tom Regan.

Unique in viewing Plutarch’s critiques not just within the context of historical philosophical and moral via, but additionally as a substitute within the heritage of animal rights hypothesis, Animals Rights and Reasons issues out how remarkably Plutarch differs from such anti-animal thinkers because the Stoics.

Classicists, philosophers, animal-welfare scholars and readers will all locate this publication a useful and informative addition to their reading.

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We are told why this is so by Plutarch’s philosophical pig Gryllus in Bruta animalia ratione uti (989C). Animals, unlike humans, live lives free from false opinion (κεν δ ξα) and alien passions ( πε σακτα π θη), so that they do not fall victim to unnatural desires. Since in this treatise, and nowhere else in the Moralia, Plutarch advances the position that animals are superior to human beings, we must conclude that this assertion is yet another example of that superiority. Plutarch had developed a somewhat similar argument in his treatise De amore prolis, wherein he maintained that nature preserves in an unadulterated form the traits peculiar to animals ( κρατον γ ρ ν εκε νοις φ σις κα μιγ ς κα πλο ν φυλ ττει τ διον , 493C) while humans are led by the very force of their reason and character ( π το λ γου κα τ ς συνηθε ας, 493C) into more sorts of judgments and opinions than lie open to the mental powers of animals.

80 DeGrazia concludes his discussion by stating that the argument from moral agency is itself a product of species bias. The question of the fundamental moral relevance of rational agency was subjected to yet further criticism by biologist and bioethicist Bernard E. 81 Rollin objects to the contractualist stance, which he classifies as a social contract theory, arguing that just because moral agents set up the rules, it does not follow that moral patients cannot be allowed to benefit from them and be protected by them if it can be demonstrated that such patients as animals do not differ clearly from those whose interests moral agents wish to protect.

Plutarch’s numerous appeals to the concept of physis in the chapters that develop his case for animal rationality suggest that, for him, rationality is a constituent of the nature of animalkind. Similarly, in his treatise Bruta animalia ratione uti, Plutarch’s philosophical pig Gryllus explains that sexual passion in animals is strictly seasonal and always restrained, for in animals, physis is the supreme motivating factor in their behavior (τ δ’ λον φ σις, 990D). Slightly later in that treatise, the pig claims that physis is the teacher of skills in animals (το των διδ σκαλον ε ναι τ ν φ σιν, 991F), and that if humans believe that this physis is not equivalent to reason and intellect, they had better look for a more appropriate term for it ( ν ε μ λ γον ο εσθε δε ν μηδ φρ νησιν καλε ν, ρα σκοπε ν νομα κ λλιον α τ κα τιμι τερον).

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