Speciesism as a precondition to justice

Y. Michael Barilan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Over and above fairness, the concept of justice presupposes that in any community no one member's wellbeing or life plan is inexorably dependent on the consumption or exploitation of other members. Renunciation of such use of others constitutes moral sociability, without which moral considerability is useless and possibly meaningless. To know if a creature is morally sociable, we must know it in its community; we must know its ecological profile, its species. Justice can be blind to species no more than to circumstance. Speciesism, the recognition of rights on the basis of group membership rather than solely on the basis of moral considerations at the level of the individual creature, embodies this assertion but is often described as a variant of Nazi racism. I consider this description and find it unwarranted, most obviously because Nazi racism extolled the stronger and the abuser and condemned the weaker and the abused, be they species or individuals, humans or animals. To the contrary, I present an argument for speciesism as a precondition to justice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-33
Number of pages12
JournalPolitics and the Life Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2004


Dive into the research topics of 'Speciesism as a precondition to justice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this