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3: Persons, Autonomy, the Environment, and Rights

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  • Unit Three discusses a variety of topics that might not appear related at first but really are: animals, justice, the environment, date rape, pornography, and political contracts. What they all share in common is the important problem of balancing our autonomy (our ability to choose and take actions for ourselves) with the autonomy and value of everything else that surrounds us: people, animals, the environment, and society as a whole. Each of these require us to understand and appreciate the impact our actions, as well as our very nature as creatures, have on everything around us.

    Chapter 13, Animal Rights by Eduardo Salazar, discusses how we should approach moral issues regarding non-human animals. Chapter 14, John Rawls and the “Veil of Ignorance” by Ben Davies, discusses the important work of John Rawls and its implications for morality. Chapter 15, Environmental Ethics by Jonathan Spelman, discusses how we can value the environment in a morally appropriate fashion. Chapter 16, Rape, Date Rape, and the “Affirmative Consent” Law in California, discusses conceptual difficulties with “date rape” and concerns with the recent approach in California to combat sex crimes on campuses. Chapter 17, The Ethics of Pornography by Eduardo Salazar, discusses moral concerns with the generation and use of pornography. Chapter 18, The Social Contract by Thomas Hobbes, is a classic work in Philosophy by the great 17th century philosopher that discusses the political state as a moral entity that enters into an agreement with its citizens.