The Dennes Room

Event Detail

Wed Mar 9, 2016
Toll Room, Alumni House, 4–6 PM
Howison Lectures in Philosophy
Christine Korsgaard (Harvard University)
“Animal Selves and the Good”

A common defense of the various and sometimes cruel ways in which human beings use the other animals is that human beings are just more important than the other animals are: what happens to human beings matters more. In this paper, I begin by arguing that the trouble with this claim is not so much that it is false, as that it makes almost no sense at all. The difficulty rests in the fact that everything that is important must be important to someone. A defense of this claim requires nothing less than a theory of why there is such a thing as “the good” at all. I will sketch such a theory and then raise some objections to it, which will take us into an examination of the relation between having a self and having a good. Although it is not true that some creatures are “more important” than others, it is true that the fact that some creatures have less of a self means that things may be, in a general way, less important to them.