I’m posting here as a guest on the invitation of Professor Nussbaum. I am sympathetic towards her work, but have also been a persistent –and I hope constructive- critic of it. I teach at a Jesuit liberal arts college, and have just returned from teaching four years in the United Arab Emirates, at American University of Sharjah -- a highly successful and ambitious university accredited by Middle States and hosting students from over seventy countries. So do not assume I understand much of the law. My emphasis has always been on forming undergraduates, which is where my passion lies.
I see that you are debating Christine Korsgaard’s theory of obligations to animals. It should really be called a theory of obligation to animals, and not to other animals, because it is a theory of obligation to animal, as opposed to rational, nature. If the expression weren’t odd, it might be best to refer to her theory of obligation to animality. Doing so would make it easier to see one of Professor Nussbaum’s criticisms, that Korsgaard’s theory is still indirect: what merits respect in animals is that they have stuff that we have when we respect ourselves, that stuff “animality”. It’s not like they themselves make claims on us in the ways they are different than us. So much for the moral attitude everyday people call “respect” –- that attitude that attends to others because of their differences.
What I want to do here is to lay out a few controversial ways of going about the problem of the moral status of animals. These will be underargued and incomplete, but that is all well and fine for starting a debate.