Professor Bryant’s article – which seeks to discover whether aspects of an anticruelty statute can be based directly on a call to virtuous conduct – is a provocative piece of scholarship that harbors a much larger question: Can a general principle mandating full respect for animals be developed out of the moral methodology inhering in virtue ethics? Insights garnered in this rejoinder are meant to stand alongside those in Professor Bryant’s article to lend deep moral grounding to animal-respect as well as provide intimations of the way virtue ethics as a moral methodology might yield determinate answers to moral questions. Toward this end, this paper has several sections. The first section briefly outlines virtue ethics as a moral methodology with particular attention to its highly situated and somewhat ad hoc aspect. The second section explores efforts over the last several decades to rely first on utilitarianism and then on deontological (or Kantian) approaches in pursuit of moral grounding for animal respect. The third section explores the particular challenges that utilitarianism or deontology must confront in attempting to provide moral grounding for any relationship between human beings and persons or creatures that are incapable of moral agency. Finally, I turn to the concept of fiduciary duty to see if it might be viewed as a type of virtue ethics – or perhaps an instance of virtue ethics in play.
Goodwin, Iris J.
"The Moral Patient, the Honorable Fiduciary, and a Faltering Liberalism: An Exploration of Professor Bryant's Call to Animal Respect,"
Between the Species:
1, Article 10.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/bts/vol16/iss1/10