Kommunikation, Sprache und das Inklusionsproblem der Umweltethik

Keywords: environmental ethics, biosemiotic ethics, demarcation problem, moral standing, capability to communicate, animal communication, speech act, discourse, sentience, philosophy, moral philosophy, ethics


This article contributes to solving the demarcation problem in environmental ethics. From within a discourse-ethical framework a criterion for the “capability to communicate” is proposed. After presenting some paradigm examples of communication within the non-human biotic world, four layers of communication are distinguished. Two layers occur in the non-human world, two remain specific to humans (“speaking a language by using speech acts” and “discourse”). It is argued that vocal and vocal-gesture communication is of moral relevance. Finally, three criteria for moral considerability are compared: “sentience”, “interests”, and “capability to communicate”. This comparison points to parallels and implies a proposal of how to deal with the demarcation problem.