Political Liberalism, the Non-Human Biotic and the Abiotic: a Response to Simon Hailwood

Brian Baxter

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    S. Hailwood argues that if political liberals, in the Rawlsian sense, refuse to grant non-human nature anything other than instrumental value, then they may properly be characterised as human chauvinists, but not as inconsistent political liberals. He also argues that political liberals who do grant non-instrumental value to the nonhuman are thereby committed to a form of moral valuation of the abiotic. However, an analysis of what is involved in regarding non-human biota as possessing instrumental value reveals that humans must recognise the existence of interests, needs and desires of those non-human organisms which they wish to treat instrumentally. Given this, political liberalism in its most persuasive form, as articulated by Barry, implies that political liberals are not permitted to decide arbitrarily that non-human biota have only instrumental value. But the crucial role of interests in this argument precludes the attribution of any form of moral value to the abiotic.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)190-205
    Number of pages16
    JournalAnalyse and Kritik
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006


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