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Human-Animal Chimeras, “Human” Cognitive Capacities, and Moral Status

Abstract: In “Human-Animal Chimeras: The Moral Insignificance of Uniquely Human Capacities,” Julian Koplin explores a promising way of thinking about moral status. Without attempting to develop a model in any detail, Koplin picks up Joshua Shepherd’s interesting proposal that we think about moral status in terms of the value of different kinds of conscious experience. For example, a being with the most basic sort of consciousness and sentience would have interests that matter morally, while a being whose consciousness featured the riches of loving affection, say, might have greater moral status and therefore deserve some sort of priority if the interests of the two beings conflicted. This approach represents an improvement over the more common, transparently anthropocentric habits of thinking about moral status, whether in connection with evaluating human-animal chimera research, deciding what one can ethically eat, or pursuing some other moral inquiry.

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