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Steve Sapontzis

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Steve Sapontzis

Steve F. Sapontzis
Nationality American
Education BA in philosophy (1967)
Rice University
MPhil in philosophy (1970)
Yale University
PhD in philosophy (1971)
Yale University
Occupation Professor emeritus of philosophy, California State University, East Bay
Known for Animal ethics, animal rights, environmental ethics
Notable work(s) Morals, Reason, and Animals (1987)

Steve F. Sapontzis is professor emeritus of philosophy at California State University, East Bay, specializing in animal ethics and environmental ethics. He is the author of Morals, Reason, and Animals (1987) and Subjective Morals (2011), and editor of Food for Thought: The Debate over Eating Meat (2004). He was co-founder in 1984 of Between the Species: A Journal of Ethics, and founder of the Hayward Friends of Animals Humane Society.

He obtained his BA from Rice University in 1967, and his MPhil and PhD from Yale University in 1970 and 1971. He joined the philosophy faculty at California State University, East Bay in 1971, and became professor emeritus in 1999.[1] He was a member of the board of the American Philosophical Quarterly (1991-1994), and sat on the animal welfare research committee at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (1986-1990).[2]

Sapontzis is an advocate of animal rights. In Morals, Reason, and Animals, he argues that non-human animals have interests, and that it is the existence of interests that justifies inclusion in the moral community. He writes that human beings should extend to non-humans the same moral protection for the latter's interests that we enjoy for our own. He argues further that the burden of proof should shift toward those who argue against equal consideration for animals:

Aristotle thought that men were naturally superior to women and Greeks naturally superior to other races; Victorians thought white men had to shoulder the burden of being superior to savages; and Nazis thought Aryans were a master race. We have come to reject these and many other supposedly natural hierarchies; the history of what we consider moral progress can be viewed as, in large part, the replacement of hierarchical worldviews with a presumption in favor of forms of egalitarianism. This substitution places the burden of proof on those who would deny equal consideration to the interests of all concerned, rather than on those who seek such consideration. Consequently, some reason is needed to justify the fairness of maintaining a hierarchical worldview when we are dealing with animals."[3]

Selected works

  • Subjective Morals. University Press Of America, 2011
  • (ed.) Food for Thought: The Debate over Eating Meat. Prometheus Books, 2004.
  • Morals, Reason, and Animals. Temple University Press, 1987
  • "Groundwork for a Subjective Theory of Ethics", American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 1 (Jan., 1990), pp. 27-38
  • "Moral Relativism: A Causal Interpretation and Defense", American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 24, No. 4 (Oct., 1987), pp. 329-337
  • "Moral Community and Animal Rights", American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 22, No. 3 (Jul., 1985), pp. 251-257.
  • "Moral Value and Reason", The Monist, Vol. 66, No. 1 (Jan., 1983), pp. 146-159
  • "A Critique of Personhood", Ethics, Vol. 91, No. 4 (Jul., 1981), pp. 607-618
  • "Are Animals Moral Beings?", American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 1 (Jan., 1980), pp. 45-52
  • "A Note on Merleau-Ponty's 'Ambiguity'", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 38, No. 4 (Jun., 1978), pp. 538-543
  • "Direct Perception, Some Further Comments", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Jun., 1977), pp. 556-565

See also


  1. ^ "Directory of Emeritus Faculty", California State University, Hayward, accessed 31 May 2012.
  2. ^ "Morals, Reason, and Animals: Steve Sapontzis interviewed by Claudette Vaughan",, accessed 29 May 2012.
  3. ^ Sapontzis, Steve F. Morals, Reason, and Animals. Temple University Press, 1987, p. 107.
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