In Welfare, Happiness, and Ethics, L.W. Sumner defends two significant constraints on one’s theory of welfare: formality and generality. An adequate theory of welfare, claims Sumner, must give a constitutive account of the “good-for” relation. This constitutive account must be sufficiently general that any entity whose status as a welfare subject is uncontroversial falls within its scope. This paper will argue that Sumner’s proposed constraints are particularly significant to utilitarian arguments for the equal moral considerability of non-human animals. In the absence of these constraints, the inconsistency that is alleged to follow from denying moral considerability to non-human animals, while affirming it for humans, fails to obtain. I will focus on Peter Singer’s argument for the equal moral considerability of non-human animals, in order to support the conclusion that questions about the formality and generality of welfare are significant areas of further research for philosophers of animal welfare.
"A Difference that Makes a Difference: Welfare and the Equality of Consideration,"
Between the Species:
10, Article 6.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/bts/vol13/iss10/6