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Philosophy Essay

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NUSSBAUM’S CAPABILITY THEORIES FOR TREATING NONHUMAN ANIMALS ETHICALLY APPLIED TO CARL SAFINA’S DISCUSSION ON VARIOUS NONHUMAN ANIMALS

In this paper, I intend to explain Martha Nussbaum’s capabilities theory for treating nonhuman animals ethically, then apply this theory to Carl Safina’s discussion of various nonhuman animals in his book Beyond Words, How Animals Think and Feel. Martha Nussbaum is an American Philosopher, who focused on philosophy in the field of moral theories. She is a distinguished Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago. Her interests include the ancient Greek, ethics, political philosophy, Roman ...view middle of the document...

Her approach has been recognized as a possible approach to the consideration of human responsibilities towards the other species. Although initial discussions were meant to promote gender equality and the voice of women in relevant policies, the significant of the theory shifted towards the care for nonhuman species. The capabilities theory can thus be described as a sophisticated approach that integrates the rights, social theories, and utilitarian theories.
Nussbaum capabilities approach attempts to express the human powers fully and not just the provision of chances for people to engage in certain functions. Thus, she affirms the argument that capability is a real possibility or opportunity for an individual to fulfill various functions. In chapter 14, “Beyond ‘Compassion and Humanity’: Justice for Nonhuman Animals.” The author defines the term compassion as an obligation to refrain from actions that can lead to the suffering of other species. The title denotes the scope of her arguments. She demonstrates that, apart from our compassions and moral obligations to protect nonhuman species from suffering, there is a third element that incorporates animals as cognitive beings that have a right to lead a suffering free life. Thus, the title is an indication that the author went beyod the contractarian and intuitive point of utilitarianism it not only regards the pains and pleasure but desire to see nonhuman species (Notes on Utilitarianism).
Her argument against John Rawls position on a contractual agreement and assertion that no one species can eliminate the other is proven wrong. She asserts that the issues of harsh treatment of nonhuman species can be addressed as issues of justice. This is interwoven to the concept of compassion and sympathy. The argument is that compassion arises as a result of the realization that the creature to which the sufferings are being inflicted on has a right to a better life. In her work, that duty is known as justice. In spites of the complexities that arises in the definition of the term justice, Nussbaum was able to simplify it to refers to the right to proper treatment and without any sufferings. Her argument against Rawls preposition is based on the fact that John Rawls work did not cover the duties of compassion. The duties of compassion, in this case, is the realization that, it is wrong for us to mistreat nonhuman species harshly, but also the nonhuman species have a right to stay free from sufferings.
Nussbaum philosophy is based on Aristotle's philosophy of the respect for all creatures and the recognition that their uniqueness needs respect and care (Sunstein and Nussbaum 309). The aim of the capability theory is to put forward political solutions that will foster coexistence and cooperation among the species. The author notes that there exist positive and negative, ability and functioning distinctions that be defined clearly. Below are the human basis capability approaches that are applied in mapping...

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