Dogs and Monsters: Moral Status Claims in the Fiction of Dean Koontz

Stephen Smith

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This article explores conceptions of moral status in the work of American thriller author Dean Koontz. It begins by examining some of the general theories of moral status used by philosophers to determine whether particular entities have moral status. This includes both uni-criterial theories and multi-criterial theories of moral status. After this examination, the article argues for exploring bioethics conceptions in popular fiction. Popular fiction is considered a rich source for analysis because it provides not only a good approximation of the beliefs of ordinary members of the moral community, but also explores important issues in a context where ordinary individuals are likely to encounter them. Following on from this, the article then explores theories of moral status in the context of Koontz’s novels. In particular, the article focuses on the novel Watchers and Koontz’s Frankenstein series. Through these works, Koontz indicates that entities have moral status for a variety of reasons and thus presumably, he is a proponent of multi-criterial theories of moral status. The article concludes with an examination of what this might mean for our understanding of moral status claims generally.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Medical Humanities
Early online date14 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Moral status
  • Moral worth
  • Multi-criterial theories
  • Bioethics
  • Literature
  • Dean Koontz


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