Moral Encroachment Across Species Boundaries - John Matthewson

Moral Encroachment Across Species Boundaries - John Matthewson
Photo by Brandi Redd on Unsplash

Speaker: John Matthewson

Proponents of moral encroachment argue that moral considerations can affect epistemic rationality. Although the various accounts of moral encroachment diverge in important ways, the core claim is that, given a fixed type and quantity of evidence, the epistemic status of a belief based on that evidence may still vary according to moral context. For instance, one might be justified in believing that someone is a member of staff at an exclusive club based on the colour of their jacket, but not based on the colour of their skin, even if the correlations between these attributes and being a staff member in that setting are exactly the same. As far as I can tell, the examples used to motivate this view all involve beliefs about humans. In fact, comparisons between non-human animals and humans have been used to demonstrate the kind of shift in moral stakes that could alter a belief’s epistemic status. However, if moral encroachment is correct, it seems we need to carefully consider whether its impact begins and ends with one species. I will outline what a cross-species account of encroachment may require and entail, and what this could mean for the plausibility of moral encroachment in general.

Please note that these seminars are open to the public and in person only.

Date & time

Thu 12 Oct 2023, 2:00pm to 3:30pm


Auditorium, Level 1, RSSS building, 146 Ellery Crescent, Acton, ACT 2601


John Matthewson


Sean Denahue


Updated:  9 October 2023/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications