Philosophy, as I often say, has to “become real” to be effective into our daily life and reality and in order to produce positive consequences. Reflection and thought exist, no doubt about it, but when their existence is locked and confined in our mind, they do not have a role in the external world. The act is where philosophy and reality meet: it is the exact moment in which they merge. Reflection produces consequences in the real world through the act; the action is what actualize the philosophical thought, if I may say so. From that point of view, moral philosophy, especially practical ethics and bioethics, have become more important than other disciplines such as epistemology, metaphysics and theoretic. The latest are not useless, of course, but I tend to think that they have to become instruments for practical ethics to use and they have to provide it with the proper principles to produce real and productive reasoning.
In my following posts, I will try to define some practical issues and explain that philosophy could really deal with them and fix them. Firstly, we have to answer this question: Who are the subjects of the moral action?
Philosophers have been convinced for a long time that the moral agents and the subjects of a moral action are just human beings. Things are now different and the moral sphere is evolving along with them: it could be described as an expanding circle. At first it included humans only (the Homo sapiens specie), but now it is wider and it incorporates also animals, plants and even natural environments. The scheme goes like this:
Morality: Humans -> animals -> plants -> environments and habitats -> the entire planet earth.
Unbelievable but true: our actions have consequences and not only the members of our species are involved, but also the entire planet with all its animal and plant species. According to that, attention is required and we have to think in a new perspective, because every single act is the beginning of a causal chain (of moral actions) that includes so many beings and areas.
[Morality as an expanding circle is a theory developed by Peter Singer. Other philosophers, such as the Italian Paola Cavalieri, agree with it]