I’ve covered in fair detail on this blog (for example, see here and here) the wide-ranging debate on the proposition that non-human animals share with humans, at least in some degree, the ability to be moral agents.

Most recently, Mike LaBossiere has just posted an intriguing essay on the Talking Philosophy, the blog of The Philosophers’ Magazine, in which he discusses the question of whether dogs have morality, and in the process proposes that we differentiate between the capacity for good and the capacity for moral agency.

Showing that dogs have intelligence and emotions would not be enough to show that dogs have morality. What is needed is some reason to think that dogs use these capabilities to make moral decisions and engage in moral behavior.

In other words: the presence of emotions and a certain level of intelligence would give an animal the ability to act in a way we might consider good, but not necessarily the ability to act in a way we might consider moral, as commonly defined. 

The debate continues here