Ethical extensionism is a common argument pattern in environmental and animal ethics, which takes a morally valuable trait already recognized in us and argues that we should recognize that value in other entities such as nonhuman animals. I exposit ethical extensionism’s core argument, argue for its validity and soundness, and trace its history to 18th century progressivist calls to expand the moral community and legal franchise. However, ethical extensionism has its critics. The bulk of the paper responds to recent criticisms, including (1) environmental ethicists’ objection against its austere conception of moral value (2), feminist ethicists’ claim that extensionism fails to account for the moral significance of difference, (3) disability theorists’ concern that extensionist arguments are offensive, and (4) animal rights theorists’ lament that extensionism is a practical failure. While something is to be gained from each criticism, I argue that they ultimately fail and that extensionism remains compelling.

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