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Can non-moral agents have claim to moral rights?

A brief question, to be sure, but one may not answer it quite so quickly. If we consider certain animals or plants to be without moral agency--that is, if they cannot or do not commit moral or immoral acts, or if they should not be judged morally--can we apply rights (conditional or otherwise) to them as we generally do to humans?

Can we allow such creatures (which may include the severely retarded, infants, and comatose among humans) moral consideration without assuming they have moral rights? If so, is there a good argument to be made in favor of others following us in doing so?

I have found it easier this quarter to remain impassive and judge each view or philosopher on its merits than to posit many of my own stances in response. I suppose this is what is expected of me as an undergraduate student of the discipline, but my aim has never been to become a historian of philosophy or even merely a critic. I believe this is a field in which one must typically be involved in order to progress.

So it is that I posit these questions to myself and others without much concern for my own recent readings in various environmental ethics and open the floor to any with a mind to comment--though I suppose that mostly means myself.

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Pointless Ruminations on the Absurd

The world around us is in no way required to conform to our expectations, beliefs, or desires. Rather, it is all but guaranteed to disappoint us, at least once or twice a lifetime. The loftier (or more deeply felt) our ideals, the more this may be true.

When we accept this incongruity and are keenly aware of it, but cannot change our thinking, absurdity steps in. The world no longer quite makes sense. It is untethered from rational or moral concerns, adrift in a bizarre joke told by no one.
Desire for normative order is often irrational and misplaced. Placing ethical constraints on amoral matters makes no sense. Yet these appear (sometimes, seemingly) inescapable conclusions. Hence the sensation of absurdity.

We can apply these incongruous demands to anything and anyone. But this is not a universal philosophy. It is a philosophy of the self, a diagnosis.

Well now.

I think I'm going to try to revive my online writing habits, outside of Facebook.

And what have I been thinking or feeling in the interim, across the last couple years or so? Well, I'm glad you asked.

In part, this.