Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

The Genetic Account of Moral Status: A Defense

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
MyBook is a cheap paperback edition of the original book and will be sold at uniform, low price.

Buy this article

$30.00+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites

image of Journal of Moral Philosophy

Christopher Grau argues that the genetic basis for moral agency account of rightholding is problematic because it fails to grant all human beings the moral status of rightholding; it grants the status of rightholding to entities that do not intuitively deserve such status; and it assumes that the genetic basis for moral agency has intrinsic/final value, but the genetic basis for moral agency only has instrumental value. Grau also argues that those who are inclined to hold that all human beings are rightholders should reconsider speciesism. In this paper, I argue that Grau’s objections do not undermine the genetic basis for moral agency account of rightholding, and I also offer criticisms of Grau’s defense of speciesism.

1. fn11 S. Matthew Liao, “The Basis of Human Moral Status,” Journal of Moral Philosophy 7 (2010): 159-179.
2. fn22 Christopher Grau, “Moral Status, Speciesism, and Liao’s Genetic Account,” Journal of Moral Philosophy 7 (2010): 387-396. Subsequent references to Grau’s article are given in the text.
3. fn33 Liao, “The Basis of Human Moral Status,” p. 167.
4. fn44 Liao, “The Basis of Human Moral Status,” pp. 167-168.
5. fn55 Liao, “The Basis of Human Moral Status,” p. 168.
6. fn66 Liao, “The Basis of Human Moral Status,” p. 166.
7. fn77 CDC, “Effectiveness in Disease and Injury Prevention: Use of Folic Acid for Prevention of Spina Bifida and Other Neural Tube Defects, 1983–1991,” MMWR 40 (1991).
8. fn88 Liao, “The Basis of Human Moral Status,” pp. 166-167.
9. fn99 S. Matthew Liao, “Twinning, Inorganic Replacement, and the Organism View,” Ratio 23 (2010): 59-72.
10. fn1010 Ying Chen, Zhi Xu He, Ailian Liu, and Kai Wang, “Embryonic Stem Cells Generated by Nuclear Transfer of Human Somatic Nuclei into Rabbit Oocytes,” Cell Research 13 (2003): 251-263.
11. fn1111 Liao, “The Basis of Human Moral Status,” p. 169.
12. fn1212 Grau also says that “Liao has argued forcefully that the genetic material should not simply be valued instrumentally – it is not to be seen as valuable only because it can allow for either actual moral agency or the potential for moral agency. This seems to leave him with the view that the material must be valuable in itself” (394). In fact, I never made the claim that ‘the genetic material should not simply be valued instrumentally’ in this paper. Again, I refrained from offering an independent argument for the genetic account. So I shall ignore this comment.
13. fn1313 See, e.g., Jeff McMahan, “Our Fellow Creatures,” Journal of Ethics 9 (2005): 353-380, which Grau also cites.
14. fn1414 I would like to thank Chris Grau, David Wasserman and Wibke Gruetjen for their comments on earlier versions of this paper.

Article metrics loading...


Affiliations: 1: New York University, 285 Mercer Street, New York, NY 10003, USA


Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Journal of Moral Philosophy — Recommend this title to your library

    Thank you

    Your recommendation has been sent to your librarian.

  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation