Can Animals be Moral?

ISBN : 9780199842001

Mark Rowlands
272 Pages
148 x 211 mm
Pub date
Dec 2012
Send mail

Can animals act for moral reasons? Philosophical tradition answers, almost univocally, "no." Recent work in cognitive ethology, however, points in the other direction. Philosophical tradition has apparently convincing arguments on its side. But cognitive ethology can point to a growing body of empirical evidence that suggests these arguments must be wrong. This groundbreaking book assimilates both philosophical and ethological frameworks into a unified whole. In part, ethologists have not understood the enormous logical obstacles facing the claim that animals can act morally. But, in part also, philosophers have been guilty of over-intellectualizing crucial concepts such as moral motivation and action. Building on the ethological evidence, this book engages in meticulous philosophical analysis and argument, and the resulting answer to the question is a qualified "yes." Animals can act morally in the sense they can act for moral reasons. Or, at least, they are no compelling logical obstacles to supposing that this is the case. This conclusion has important implications not just for our understanding of animals but also of the central concepts we employ in understanding the moral lives of humans, such as motivation, action, and agency.


1. Can Animals be Moral?
2. Attributing Emotions to Animals
3. Moral Agents, Patients, and Subjects
4. The Reflection Condition: Aristotle and Kant
5. The Idiot
6. The Phenomenology of Moral Motivation
7. Moral Motivation and Meta-Cognition
8. Moral Reasons and Practice
9. Reconstructing Normativity and Agency
10. A Cognitive Ethologist from Mars

About the author: 

Mark Rowlands is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Miami. He is the author of fourteen books, translated into more than twenty languages. His autobiography, The Philosopher and the Wolf was published in 2008, and became an international bestseller.

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.