Should We Ascribe Capabilities to Animals? A Critical Analysis of the Extension of Nussbaum's Capabilities Approach

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Should We Ascribe Capabilities to Animals? A Critical Analysis of the Extension of Nussbaum's Capabilities Approach

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Publication Article, peer reviewed scientific
Title Should We Ascribe Capabilities to Animals? A Critical Analysis of the Extension of Nussbaum's Capabilities Approach
Author Melin, Anders ; Kronlid, David
Date 2016
English abstract
Originally, the Capabilities Approach had a strong anthropocentric orientation because of its focus on the entitlements of individual humans. However, as a part of the interest to employ it within animal and environmental ethics, it has been discussed whether the Capabilities Approach should consider also non-human life forms for their own sake. The most influential and elaborated contribution to this debate is Martha Nussbaum’s extension of the Capabilities Approach to include also sentient animals. In this article, we argue that Nussbaum’s ascription of capabilities to animals is problematic, since the concept of a capability normally denotes an opportunity to choose between different functionings. When Nussbaum ascribes capabilities to animals, the concept seems to denote simply specific abilities. Such a use is problematic since it waters down the concept and makes it less meaningful, and it may obscure the fact that normal, adult humans, in contrast to sentient animals, can act as conscious moral agents. The aim of granting moral status to sentient animals can be achieved more convincingly by describing our moral relationship to animals in terms of the functionings we should promote, instead of ascribing capabilities to them.
DOI https://doi.org/10.3384/de-ethica.2001-8819.163253 (link to publisher's fulltext.)
Link http://dx.doi.org/10.3384/de-ethica.2001-8819.163253 .Icon
Publisher Linköping university
Host/Issue De Ethica;2
Volume 3
ISSN 2001-8819
Pages 53-63
Language eng (iso)
Subject Nussbaum
animals
Capabilites Approach
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/21593 Permalink to this page
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