Alasdair MacIntyre and David DeGrazia have explored the question of how sophisticated dolphins’ cognitive abilities are, and these thinkers have taken positions based on a flawed methodology that either assert or imply that dolphins fall below humans when it comes to cognitive sophistication and moral consideration. Timothy Fort uses MacIntyre’s characterization of dolphins in his discussion of the value of biology to business ethics. He thereby makes inaccurate and unsupportable claims, and perpetuates a stereotype about dolphins grounded in unintentional speciesism—a stereotype that makes certain unethical treatment of dolphins appear defensible. There is currently little discussion about the appropriate methodology for studying ethical issues related to the treatment of nonhuman animals in business. This essay aims to encourage such a dialogue by identifying and discussing central weaknesses in the writings of MacIntyre, DeGrazia and Fort and to argue for a more appropriate methodology.

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