While concerned with how man achieves his status as a moral being, Friedrich Schiller develops a concept of play that serves as a bridge between our sensuous existence to the rational, realizing moral freedom. In what ways might we extend this concept to the non-human animal? Current research by play theorists and ethologists has shown that play behaviour in animals is both complex and crucial in determining social patterns, and Schiller’s account may have anticipated these observations. I argue that through Schiller’s theory of play and our current research on animal play, it is possible to undermine the systematic removal of the animal from the moral realm that happens in modern philosophy. Through play theory, there is a possible way to undermine the assumption that animals are incapable of achieving the status of moral agents, providing an alternate route to the standard view of animals as moral patients.

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