Animal Vices and Virtues
In this chapter, the misanthrope undertakes the broadly moral comparison between humankind and animals. It is argued, first, that animals do not have failings except in attenuated senses of such terms as ‘deceit’ and ‘cruelty’, which then lose their usual critical force. It is then argued that, while human beings have virtues as well as vices, it is better to have neither than to have both. Virtue and vice are not morally symmetrical. The assumption, however, that if animals have no vices then they have no virtues either is rejected. Virtues do not presuppose the complex social and mental life that vices do; they can be ‘innocent’. A final section connects the claim that animals can be virtuous but not vicious with the persuasive idea that animals – and nature at large – can be beautiful but not ugly.