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Volume 29 • Number 3

July 2015



The Marginal Cases Argument for Open Immigration

by Christopher Freiman

The marginal cases argument for animal rights goes something like this. Take whatever property you think entitles humans—but not nonhuman animals— to moral standing, such as the ability to act from duty. Now consider a human who lacks this property, such as someone with a severe cognitive disability. Is he entitled to moral standing? If not, we're morally permitted to (mis)treat him however we'd like. This result seems wrong, so we should conclude that whatever property confers moral standing will be one that someone with a severe cognitive disability possesses, like sentience. But since sentience is a property also possessed by nonhuman animals, at least some nonhuman animals are due the same moral consideration as humans.

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ISSN: 2152-0542