By Daniel Statman
Selection of philosophical essays at the challenge of ethical good fortune/
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Additional info for Moral Luck (S U N Y Series in Ethical Theory)
If a man shoots his dog because the animal is no longer capable of service, he does not fail in his duty to the dog, for the dog cannot judge, but his act is inhuman and damages in himself that humanity which it is his duty to show toward mankind. 7 This idea of indirect duty is old. It is clearly stated in St. 9 Nevertheless, it cannot be sustained. If inflicting pain and death on animals, without legitimating cause, is not cruel per se, why should it harden us toward humans? And if it does in fact harden us toward humans, it must be because we have become insensitive to the wrong of harming of animals.
Since plants do not have a central nervous system, there is a sense in which they do not feel pain. But those who are earnest in contesting this view, or whose moral principles include respect for life as such, will adopt a fruitarian lifestyle in whole or part. Strict fruitarians will not eat a living plant. They will wait until the fruit of a plant has ripened and dropped before consuming it. It is, indeed, an ascetic style of life, and when I encounter wiseacre objectors to animal rights who ask why rights should not extend to plants as well, I have a ready answer.
Nevertheless, there is one important difference in the goal of FH which is of capital importance in showing its relevance to our treatment of animals. FH is an obligation to promote the happiness of others. It has nothing to do with advancing their moral perfection except in so far as I am not bound to help another to achieve some illegitimate purpose. In the second part of The Metaphysics of Morals, which is his short treatise on virtue, Kant makes this point explicit. ” he begins discussion with a summary answer, “They are one’s own perfection and the happiness of others” (MV, 150).