Monday, June 16, 2008

Women and lesser animals

It seems that Hobbes accords some fairly robust natural equality to women on the ground that they are sufficiently equal in strength and wit to men that arrangements between the sexes will have to be consensual. He says that dominion over children, in the absence of any express contract, resides in the mother because only she can declare who the father is. (Doesn't this seem like a terrible argument?) But he allows that non-human animals may permissibly, under the law of nature, be used (if they are tameable and useful) or killed (if they are noxious), not on Humean grounds that they are too weak to merit considerations of justice, but (it seems) on the ground that they would be unfairly advantaged if we were morally required to refrain from killing them while they were given moral impunity to kill us. Does this position make any sense?