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Environmental Values

The Argument from Marginal Cases and the Slippery Slope Objection

Julia K. Tanner

Environmental Values 18 (2009): 51-66. doi: 10.3197/096327109X404753


Rationality (or something similar) is usually given as the relevant difference between all humans and animals; the reason humans do but animals do not deserve moral consideration. But according to the Argument from Marginal Cases not all humans are rational, yet if such (marginal) humans are morally considerable despite lacking rationality it would be arbitrary to deny animals with similar capacities a similar level of moral consideration. The slippery slope objection has it that although marginal humans are not strictly speaking morally considerable, we should give them moral consideration because if we do not we will slide down a slippery slope where we end up by not giving normal humans due consideration. I argue that this objection fails to show that marginal humans have the kind of direct moral status proponents of the slippery slope argument have in mind.


Rationality, moral standing, humans, animals

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

The Moral Status of Beings who are not Persons: A Casuistic Argument. Jon Wetlesen

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