Animal Morality: 3 questions with Mark Rowlands

Philosophy tells us that animals cannot be moral. But what if philosophy is wrong? Mark Rowlands argues the case.

Mark Rowlands is a Welsh writer and philosopher, who is currently Professor of Philosophy at the University of Miami. He is perhaps best known for his 2008 book, The Philosopher and the Wolf, which describes the decade he spent living and travelling with a wolf. Recent publications include Running with the Pack and Can Animals be Moral?

Can animals be moral in precisely the same way as humans?

Not really. But the question is badly formed. There are a variety of ways in which humans can be moral. Sometimes we work out what is the best thing to do by bringing to bear abstract moral principles or rules. But sometimes we act unreflectively on the basis of emotions that have, as their focus, concern for the welfare of others. One jumps into a shallow pond to save a drowning child, for example. In such circumstances, not only do we not reflect – reflection might actually be an immoral thing to do.

In Can Animals Be

Continue reading

Enjoy unlimited access to the world's leading thinkers.

Start by exploring our subscription options or joining our mailing list today.

Start Free Trial

Already a subscriber? Log in

Join the conversation