(2013). What to Think of Canine Obesity? Emerging Challenges to Our Understanding of Human–Animal Health Relationships. Social Epistemology: Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 90-104. doi: 10.1080/02691728.2012.760662.
Introduction: The role of animals in philosophies of man -- Part I: What's wrong with animal rights? -- The right to remain silent -- Part II: Animal pedagogy -- You are what you eat : Rousseau's cat -- Say the human responded : Herder's sheep -- Part III: Difference worthy of its name -- Hair of the dog : Derrida's and Rousseau's good taste -- Sexual difference, animal difference : Derrida's sexy silkworm -- Part IV: It's our fault -- The (...) beaver's struggle with species-being : De Beauvoir and the praying mantis -- Answering the call of nature : Lacan walking the dog -- Part V: Estranged kinship -- The abyss between humans and animals : Heidegger puts the bee in being -- Strange kinship : Merleau-Ponty's sensuous stickleback -- Stopping the anthropological machine : Agamben's tick-tocking tick -- Psychoanalysis and the science of kinship -- Psychoanalysis as animal by-product : Freud's zoophilia -- Animal abjects, maternal abjects : Kristeva's strays -- Conclusion: Sustainable ethics. (shrink)
I explore how some aspects of Foucoult’s work on power can be applied to human/animal power relations. First, I argue that because animals behave as “beings that react” and can respond in different ways to human actions, in principle at least, Foucoult’s work can offer insights into human/animal power relations. However, many of these relations fall into the category of “domination,” in which animals are unable to respond. Second, I examine different kinds of human power practices, in particular, ways in (...) which humans construct animal constitutions and animal subjectivities. Finally, I use a case study of a pet cat to show how such power practices may come together in a single instance. (shrink)
This thought-provoking book will ask what it is to be human, what to be animal, and what are the natures of the relationships between them. This is accomplished with philosophical and ethical discussions, scientific evidence and dynamic theoretical approaches. Attitudes to Animals will also encourage us to think not only of our relationships to non-human animals, but also of those to other, human, animals. This book provides a foundation that the reader can use to make ethical choices about (...) animals. It will challenge readers to question their current views, attitudes and perspectives on animals, nature and development of the human-animal relationship. Human perspectives on the human-animalrelationships reflect what we have learned, together with spoken and unspoken attitudes and assumptions, from our families, societies, media, education and employment. (shrink)
Zoopolis offers a new agenda for the theory and practice of animal rights. Most animal rights theory focuses on the intrinsic capacities or interests of animals, and the moral status and moral rights that these intrinsic characteristics give rise to. Zoopolis shifts the debate from the realm of moral theory and applied ethics to the realm of political theory, focusing on the relational obligations that arise from the varied ways that animals relate to human societies and institutions. Building on recent (...) developments in the political theory of group-differentiated citizenship, Zoopolis introduces us to the genuine "political animal". It argues that different types of animals stand in different relationships to human political communities. Domesticated animals should be seen as full members of human-animal mixed communities, participating in the cooperative project of shared citizenship. Wilderness animals, by contrast, form their own sovereign communities entitled to protection against colonization, invasion, domination and other threats to self-determination. `Liminal' animals who are wild but live in the midst of human settlement (such as crows or raccoons) should be seen as "denizens", resident of our societies, but not fully included in rights and responsibilities of citizenship. To all of these animals we owe respect for their basic inviolable rights. But we inevitably and appropriately have very different relations with them, with different types of obligations. Humans and animals are inextricably bound in a complex web of relationships, and Zoopolis offers an original and profoundly affirmative vision of how to ground this complex web of relations on principles of justice and compassion. (shrink)
Ethical reflection deals not only with the moral standing and handling of animals, it should also include a critical analysis of the underlying relationship. Anthropological, psychological, and sociological aspects of the human–animal-relationship should be taken into account. Two conditions, asymmetry and ambivalence, are taken as the historical and empirical basis for reflections on the human–animal-relationship in late modern societies. These conditions explain the variety of moral practice, apart from paradoxes, and provide a framework to systematize animal ethical problems in a (...) broader field. This allows the development of ideal relationships as moral orientation across anthropocentric or sentientistic ethical theories. These ideal relationships are called the patronage-model, the friendship-model and the partnership-model. The ethical problem of creating transgenic animals is discussed in the light of these ideal relationships. (shrink)
After reading the research of Mexican anthropologists concerning the possible retention of traditional indigenous African beliefs in contemporary Mexican communities of African descent, I interviewed women of the region who migrated to Atlanta, Georgia about their spiritual beliefs and practices. I was surprised by the similarities in their reports to those recorded by Gonzalo Aguirre Beltran, who worked in Mexico over 60 years ago. I traveled to the town of Chautengo in coastal Guerrero state in 2005 to talk with women (...) about their beliefs, especially those that relate to the existence of a relationship between humans and animal-tonos. The human–animal-tono relationship exemplifies a belief in an intimate relationship between humans and totem animals. The well-being of the human partner depends upon the well-being of the animal. Keeping the human–animal relationship balanced is key in the conceptualization of illness and informs related healing practices. I present an interview with a woman from Chautengo with an interpretation that exemplifies the persistence of ideas related to human–animal relationships that are possibly informed by traditional indigenous African cosmologies, brought by enslaved Africans over 500 years ago, and have been archetypally preserved in isolated communities along the Pacific coast of Mexico. (shrink)
Rosalind Hursthouse carefully introduces one of three standard approaches in current ethical theory: utilitarianism, rights, and virtue ethics. She then proceeds to clearly explain how each approach encourages us to think about our treatment of animals. Every chapter is linked to a reading from a key exponent of each approach. With readings from Singer, Regan and Midgley.
Choosing a compassionate lifestyle that makes you feel good and positively impacts on the environment and on animals has never been easier. In this practical and accessible handbook, loaded with resources for all products that are mentioned, Ingrid Newkirk presents fabulous options that will not only enhance your life, but those of your neighbors, your community, animals, and the earth itself. From comfortable home furnishings, to delicious foods, to fashionable clothing there are a myriad of choices to be made that (...) can have a lasting positive effect on the well-being of animals and the environment, including: - recognizing hidden animal ingredients in cosmetics and household products - raising ecologically aware and animal-friendly kids - creating healthy, environmentally-friendly meals for everyday and special occasions - dressing with style without using leather or other animal products - dealing kindly with mice, insects, and other 'pests' in home or garden - adopting the right animal companion for you - volunteering and investing in eco- and animal-friendly companies - traveling with Eco-consciousness. (shrink)
With more than two million members and supporters, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is the world’s largest animal-rights organization, and its founder and president, Ingrid Newkirk, is one of the most well-known and most effective activists in America. She has spearheaded worldwide efforts to improve the treatment of animals in manufacturing, entertainment, and elsewhere. Every day, in laboratories, food factories, and other industries, animals by the millions are subjected to inhumane cruelty. In this accessible guide, Newkirk teaches (...) readers hundreds of simple ways to stop thoughtless animal cruelty and make positive choices. For each topic, Newkirk provides hard facts, personal insight, inspiration, ideas, and resources, including: • How to eat healthfully and compassionately • How to adopt animals rather than support puppy mills • How to make their vote count and change public opinion • How to switch to cruelty-free cosmetics and clothing • How to choose amusements that protect rather than exploit animals. With public concern for the well-being of animals greater than ever—particularly among young people—this timely, practical book offers exciting and easy ways to make a difference. (shrink)
Figuring Animals is a collection of fifteen essays concerning the representation of animals in literature, the visual arts, philosophy, and cultural practice. At the turn of the new century, it is helpful to reconsider our inherited understandings of the species, some of which are still useful to us. It is also important to look ahead to new understandings and new dialogue, which may contribute to the survival of us all. The contributors to this volume participate in this dialogue in a (...) variety of ways--through personal experience, natural history, cultural studies, philosophical inquiry, art history, literary analysis, film studies, and theoretical imagining, and through a combination of these trains of thought. The essays expose weaknesses in western epistemological frames of reference that for centuries have limited our views and, thus, our experiences of animal being, including our own. (shrink)
Most philosophers writing about personal identity in recent years claim that what it takes for us to persist through time is a matter of psychology. In this groundbreaking new book, Eric Olson argues that such approaches face daunting problems, and he defends in their place a radically non-psychological account of personal identity. He defines human beings as biological organisms, and claims that no psychological relation is either sufficient or necessary for an organism to persist. Olson rejects several famous thought-experiments dealing (...) with personal identity. He argues, instead, that one could survive the destruction of all of one's psychological contents and capabilities as long as the human organism remains alive--as long as its vital functions, such as breathing, circulation, and metabolism, continue. (shrink)
The article compares the research programs of teaching symbolic language to chimpanzees, pointing on the dichotomy between artificial language vs. ASL, and the dichotomy between researchers who decided to establish emotional relationships between themselves and the apes, and those who have seen apes as instrumental devices. It is concluded that the experiments with the most interesting results have been both with artificial language and ASL, but with strong affiliation between researchers and animal involved in the experiments. The experiments on (...) talking apes are not so much experiments in psycholinguistics (how far can animal learn human language) but wonderful experiments in the communities of communication between human beings and great apes. (shrink)
A caged animal in the heart of the city, thousands of miles from its natural habitat, neurotically pacing in its confinement . . . Zoos offer a convenient way to indulge a cultural appetite for novelty and diversion, and to teach us, albeit superficially, about animals. Yet what, conversely, do they tell us about the people who create, maintain, and patronize them, and about animal captivity in general? Rather than foster an appreciation for the lives and attributes of animals, zoos, (...) in Randy Malamud's view, reinforce the idea that we are, by nature, an imperial species: that our power and ingenuity entitles us to violate the natural order by tearing animals from the fabric of their ecosystems and displaying them in an "order" of our own making. In so doing, he argues, zoos not only contribute to the rapid disintegration of our ecosystems, but also deaden our very sensibilities to constraint, spatial disruption, and physical pain. Invoking an array of literary depictions of animals, from Albee's Zoo Story and Virginia Woolf's diaries to the films of Harold Pinter and the poetry of Marianne Moore, Reading Zoos links culture, literature, and nature in an engaging and accessible introduction to environmental ethics, animal rights, cultural critique, and literary representation. (shrink)
Introduction : animals and political theory -- Animals in the history of political thought -- Utilitarianism and animals -- Liberalism and animals -- Communitarianism and animals -- Marxism and animals -- Feminism and animals.
Both human research and animal research operate within established standards and procedures. Although the human research environment has been criticized for its sometimes inefficient and imperfect process, reported abuses of human subjects in research served as the impetus for the establishment of the Nuremberg Code, Declaration of Helsinki, and the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research and the resulting Belmont Report. No similar, comprehensive and principled effort has addressed the use of animals in (...) research. Although published policies regarding animal research provide relevant regulatory guidance, these policies have not emerged from the process of specifying consistent and reasoned ethical principles. The lack of a fundamental effort to explore the ethical issues and principles regarding the use of animals in research has led to unclear and disparate policies. Recent studies have increased our understanding of animal cognition and emotion, suggesting that animals' potential for experiencing a wide variety of harms, such as pain and fear, is greater than has been previously appreciated. Furthermore, relationships between methods of captivity and certain laboratory procedures and the resulting adverse physical, social and psychological effects have been established. In light of this information, current protections may need to be reconsidered and modified. This paper explores the historical convergence and divergence in the creation of human and animal research guidelines, as well as opportunities to align ethical frameworks with new scientific discoveries. (shrink)
We consider Sussman et al.'s suggestion that auditory biases for processing low-noise relationships among pairs of acoustic variables is a preadaptation for human speech processing. Data from other animal communication systems, especially those involving sexual selection, also suggest that neural biases in the receiver system can generate strong selection on the form of communication signals.
Recent findings in anthrozoology – the study of human–animal interactions – shed light on psychological and social aspects of cruelty. Here we briefly discuss four areas that connect animal cruelty and cruelty directed toward humans: (1) voices of perpetrators and their audiences, (2) gender differences in cruelty, (3) cruelty as play, and (4) the putative relationship between animal abuse and interpersonal violence.
I argue that the human being fits squarely within the natural world in Aristotle’s anthropology. Like other natural beings, we strive to fulfill our end from the potential within us to achieve that end. Logos does not make human beings unnatural but makes us responsible for our actualization. As rational, the human can never be reduced to mere living animal but is always already concerned with living well; yet, as natural, she is not separated from the animal world, a dangerous (...) distinction which inevitably leaves some persons reduced to mere animality. (shrink)
Drawing on the moving story of the last year of the life of her own treasured dog, Ody, she presents an in-depth exploration of the practical, medical, and moral issues that trouble pet owners confronted with the decline and death of their ...
Although the notion of natural behavior occurs in many policy-making and legal documents on animal welfare, no consensus has been reached concerning its definition. This paper argues that one reason why the notion resists unanimously accepted definition is that natural behavior is not properly a biological concept, although it aspires to be one, but rather a philosophical tendency to perceive animal behavior in accordance with certain dichotomies between nature and culture, animal and human, original orders and invented artifacts. The paper (...) scrutinizes the philosophy of natural behavior as it developed in the organic movement in response to a perceived contrast between industrialized and traditional agriculture. There are two reasons for focusing on the organic movement: (i) the emphasis on “the natural” is most accentuated there and has a long history, (ii) everyday life on organic farms presupposes human/animal interplay, which conflicts with the philosophical tendency to separate nature from culture. This mismatch between theory and practice helps us see why, and how, the philosophy of natural behavior needs to be reconsidered. The paper proposes that we understand farms as local human/animal cultures, and asks what we can mean my natural behavior in such contexts. Since domestic animals adapt to agricultural environments via interaction with caretakers, such interplay is analyzed as “hub” in these animals’ natural behavior. (shrink)
Animal welfare has been conceptualized in such a way that the use of animals in science and for food seems justified. I argue that those who have done this have appropriated the concept of animal welfare, claiming to give a scientific account that is more objective than the sentimental account given by animal liberationists. This strategy seems to play a major role in supporting merely limited reform in the use of animals and seems to support the assumption that there are (...) conditions under which animals may be raised and slaughtered for food that are ethically acceptable. Reformists do not need to make this assumption, but they tend to conceptualize animal welfare is such a way that death does not count as harmful to the interests of animals, nor prolonged life a benefit. In addition to this prudential value assumption, some members of this community have developed strategies for defending suitably reformed farming practices as ethical even granting that death and some other forms of constraints are harms. One such strategy is the fiction of a domestic contract. However, if one accepts the conceptualization of human welfare give by L. W. Sumner, and applies it to animals in the way that I think is justified, an accurate conceptualization of animal welfare has different implications for which uses of animals should be regarded as ethically acceptable. In this paper I give an historical and philosophical account of animal welfare conceptulization and use this account to argue that animal breeders, as custodians of the animals they breed, have the ethical responsibility to help their animal wards achieve as much autonomy as possible in choosing the form of life made available to them and to provide that life. Attempts to avoid these implications by alluding to a contract model of the relationship between custodians and their wards fail to relieve custodians of their ethical responsibilities of care. (shrink)
Do non-human animals have rights? The answer to this question depends on whether animals have morally relevant mental properties. Mindreading is the human activity of ascribing mental states to other organisms. Current knowledge about the evolution and cognitive structure of mindreading indicates that human ascriptions of mental states to non-human animals are very inaccurate. The accuracy of human mindreading can be improved with the help of scientific studies of animal minds. But the scientific studies by themselves do not by themselves (...) solve the problem of how to map psychological similarities (and differences) between humans and animals onto a distinction between morally relevant and morally irrelevant mental properties. The current limitations of human mindreading – whether scientifically aided or not – have practical consequences for the rational justification of claims about which rights (if any) non-human animals should be accorded. (shrink)
How much do animals matter--morally? Can we keep considering them as second class beings, to be used merely for our benefit? Or, should we offer them some form of moral egalitarianism? Inserting itself into the passionate debate over animal rights, this fascinating, provocative work by renowned scholar Paola Cavalieri advances a radical proposal: that we extend basic human rights to the nonhuman animals we currently treat as "things." Cavalieri first goes back in time, tracing the roots of the debate from (...) the 1970s, then explores not only the ethical but also the scientific viewpoints, examining the debate's precedents in mainstream Western philosophy. She considers the main proposals of reform that recently have been advanced within the framework of today's prevailing ethical perspectives. Are these proposals satisfying? Cavalieri says no, claiming that it is necessary to go beyond the traditional opposition between utilitarianism and Kantianism and focus on the question of fundamental moral protection. In the case of human beings, such protection is granted within the widely shared moral doctrine of universal human rights' theory. Cavalieri argues that if we examine closely this theory, we will discover that its very logic extends to nonhuman animals as beings who are owed basic moral and legal rights and that, as a result, human rights are not human after all. (shrink)
Hannah Arendt’s exposition of the human condition provides the basic framework for a theoretical perspective on close relationships. According to Arendt, the human condition is comprised of three modes of activity: labor, work, and action. Labor is need-driven behavior, work concerns goal-directed activity and the fabrication of things, and action involves the mutual validation of unique individuals. Within this framework, the gift is the means by which relational ties are made concrete. I propose a model of gift-giving organized by (...) two axes: whether or not the partner is singularized by the gift and whether or not the gift is given with an expectation of a return gift. I then apply this model to the three modes of the human condition. (shrink)
Biomedical research today can be generally classified as human-based or nonhuman animal-based, each with separate and distinct review boards that must approve research protocols. Researchers wishing to work with humans or human tissues have become frustrated by the required burdensome approval panel, the Institutional Review Board. However, scientists have found it is much easier to work with the animal-based research review board, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Consequently, animals are used for investigations even when scientists believe these studies (...) should be performed with humans or human tissue. This situation deserves attention from society and more specifically the animal protection and patient advocate communities, as neither patients nor animals are well served by the present situation. (shrink)
Everyone allows that human and animal minds are distinctively (indeed, massively) different in their manifest effects. Humans have been able to colonize nearly every corner of the planet, from the artic, to deserts, to rainforests (and they did so in the absence of modern technological aids); they live together in large cooperative groups of unrelated individuals; they communicate with one another using the open-ended expressive resources of natural language; they are capable of cultural learning that accumulates over generations to result (...) in science, art, and agriculture; and they are remarkably thoughtful and inventive. There is much less agreement about how these manifest differences should be explained, however. (shrink)
It is commonly believed that we humans are justified in exploiting animals because we are higher beings:persons who have highly complex, autonomous lives as moral agents. However, there are many marginal humans who are not and never will be persons. Those who think it is permissible to exploit animal nonpersons but wrong to do the same to human nonpersons must show that there is a morally relevant difference between the two groups. Speciesists, who believe that membership in a species whose (...) normal adults are persons is sufficient for a right to life, attempt to do just this. As the failure of the best arguments which can be marshalled on their behalf indicates, they are unable to justify their view. I conclude that, although there is a morally relevant difference between human nonpersons and most animal nonpersons, this difference is not an indication of superior moral status. We would do better to abandon speciesism and the assumption thatpersonhood is morally paramount for a view which implies that both human and nonhuman nonpersons are morally considerable and have a right to life. (shrink)
Louise Barrett, beyond the brain: how body and environment shape animal and human minds Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-7 DOI 10.1007/s11097-011-9247-6 Authors Mirko Farina, ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders (CCD), Institute of Human Cognition and Brain Science (IHCBS), Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia Journal Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences Online ISSN 1572-8676 Print ISSN 1568-7759.
Human beings with diminished decision-making capacities are usually thought to require greater protections from the potential harms of research than fully autonomous persons. Animal subjects of research receive lesser protections than any human beings regardless of decision-making capacity. Paradoxically, however, it is precisely animals’ lack of some characteristic human capacities that is commonly invoked to justify using them for human purposes. In other words, for humans lesser capacities correspond to greater protections but for animals the opposite is true. Without explicit (...) justification, it is not clear why or whether this should be the case. Ethics regulations guiding human subject research include principles such as respect for persons—and related duties—that are required as a matter of justice while regulations guiding animal subject research attend only to highly circumscribed considerations of welfare. Further, the regulations guiding research on animals discount any consideration of animal welfare relative to comparable human welfare. This paper explores two of the most promising justifications for these differences␣between the two sets of regulations. The first potential justification points to lesser moral status for animals on the basis of their lesser capacities. The second potential justification relies on a claim about the permissibility of moral partiality as␣found in common morality. While neither potential justification is sufficient to justify the regulatory difference as it stands, there is possible common ground between supporters of some regulatory difference and those rejecting the current difference. (shrink)
It is argued that the question of whether or not one is required to be or become a strict vegetarian depends, not upon a rule or ideal that endorses vegetarianism on moral grounds, but rather upon whether one's own physical, biological nature is adapted to maintaining health and well-being on a vegetarian diet. Even if we accept the view that animals have rights, we still have no duty to make ourselves substantially worse off for the sake of other rights-holders. Moreover, (...) duties to others, such as fetuses and infants, may require one to consume meat or animal products. Seven classes of individuals who are not required to be or become vegetarians are identified and their examption is related to nutritional facts; these classes comprise most of the earth's population. The rule of vegetarianism defines a special or provisional duty rather than any general or universal rule, since its observance it based upon the biological capacities of individual humans whose genetic constitution and environment makes them suitably herbivorous. It is also argued that generalizing the vegetarian ideal as a social goal for all would be wrongful because it fails to consider the individual nutritional needs of humans at various stages of life, according to biological differences between the sexes, and because it would have the eugenic effect of limiting the adaptability of the human species. The appeal to the natural interests of omnivores will not justify any claim that humans may eat amounts of meat or animal products in excess of a reasonable safety margin since animals have rights-claims against us. (shrink)
Background: The requirement that animals be used in research and testing in order to protect humans was formalized in the Nuremberg Code and subsequent national and international laws, codes, and declarations.DiscussionWe review the history of these requirements and contrast what was known via science about animal models then with what is known now. We further analyze the predictive value of animal models when used as test subjects for human response to drugs and disease. We explore the use of animals for (...) models in toxicity testing as an example of the problem with using animal models.SummaryWe conclude that the requirements for animal testing found in the Nuremberg Code were based on scientifically outdated principles, compromised by people with a vested interest in animal experimentation, serve no useful function, increase the cost of drug development, and prevent otherwise safe and efficacious drugs and therapies from being implemented. (shrink)
Do animals possess rights? The argument works from marginal cases: we attribute value to humans because of some minimal set of characteristics thathumans possess. Animals possess these characteristics; therefore they deserve moral consideration. Such arguments depend on a functionalist attribution of value. Any turn to functionalism will necessarily be detrimental to human dignity, since some humans will not qualify. I will show how the methods used to establish animal rights are generally some form of functionalism, with particular emphasis on Peter (...) Singer and Tom Regan. Functionalism will always be arbitrary, since it assigns value on the basis of facts that do not necessitate such values. A better alternative is Aquinas’s theory of human dignity, that humans are valuable because of their supernatural destiny. This theory cannot be proven, but neither can the functionalist argument. Further, the human dignity argument is more rational, since it avoids many of the problems of the functionalist animal rights position. (shrink)
The idea that animal rights can be married to environmental ethics is still a minority opinion. The land ethic of Aldo Leopold, as interpreted by J. Baird Callicott, remains fundamentally at odds with the ascription of substantial rights to (nonhuman) animals. Similarly, Laura Westra’s notion of “respectful hostility,” which attempts to reconcile a holistic environmental ethic with “respect” for animals, has no place for animal rights.In this paper, I argue that only by ascribing rights to sentient animals can an environmental (...) ethic avoid an unacceptable degree of anthropocentrism because only a rights-based environmental ethic can prohibit humans from significantly interfering with sentient animals when human vital needs are not at stake. A rights view that permits significant interference when it is required for the satisfaction of human vital needs avoids problems that otherwise plague a rights view. The “vital-needs rights view” reconciles the rights of animals with the satisfaction of human vital needs—including the vital need to have a flourishing natural environment—suggesting a possible alliance between animal rights and deep ecology and revealing the connections among vital needs, capitalism, and environmental degradation. (shrink)
Bioethics in a globalized world is meeting a number of challenges – fundamentalism in its different forms, and a focus on economic growth neglecting issues such as equity and sustainability, being prominent among them. How well are we as bioethicists equipped to make meaningful contributions in these times? The paper identifies a number of restraints and proceeds to probe potential resources such as the capability approach, care ethics, cosmopolitanism, and pragmatism. These elements serve to outline a perspective that focuses on (...) the preconditions for flourishing human relationships as a way to address bioethical challenges in a globalized world. (shrink)
Research that involves the creation of animals with human-derived parts opens the door to potentially valuable scientific and therapeutic advances, yet invokes unsettling moral questions. Critics and champions alike stand to gain from clear identification and careful consideration of the strongest ethical objections to this research. A prevailing objection argues that crossing the human/nonhuman species boundary introduces inexorable moral confusion (IMC) that warrants a restriction to this research on precautionary grounds. Though this objection may capture the intuitions of many who (...) find this research unsettling, it relies on mistaken views of both biology and moral standing, ultimately distorting the morally relevant facts. We critically examine IMC, identify mistaken essentialist assumptions, and reframe ethical concerns. The upshot is a stronger line of objection that encourages a more inclusive and productive ethical discourse. (shrink)
In comparing humans and animals, we may use humans as the standard to measure animals, or conversely, animals as the standard to measure humans. While most philosophers have adopted the former approach, David Hume is among those few who use the comparison with animals as means to throw light on human nature. I focus on Hume’s treatment of human and animal reason. The cognitive processes and states that Hume holds to be common to humans and animals may be called situated, (...) that is, embedded in the process of guiding actions that is actually going on and consequently relative to the agent’s current position in space-time. Hume’s treatment of causal reasoning underlines the centrality of situated cognition in the workings of human, as well as animal minds. Taking situated reasoning and beliefs as the paradigm of human cognition enables us to look from an alternative point of view, at the features supposedly unique to human cognition, like the use of general words and concepts. Thus we can find a confirmation of the practical import of general words and concepts in Hume’s account of the obligation of promises, where words play an essential role in extending our control over objects and actions beyond what is present and particular into what is absent or not yet actualized. This is also a confirmation of how deeply our cognitive abilities in general are rooted in our practical needs. (shrink)
The end of human history is an event that has been foreseen or announced by both messianics and dialecticians. But who is the protagonist of that history that is coming—or has come—to a close? What is man? How did he come on the scene? And how has he maintained his privileged place as the master of, or first among, the animals? In The Open, contemporary Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben considers the ways in which the “human” has been thought of as (...) either a distinct and superior type of animal, or a kind of being that is essentially different from animal altogether. In an argument that ranges from ancient Greek, Christian, and Jewish texts to twentieth-century thinkers such as Heidegger, Benjamin, and Kojève, Agamben examines the ways in which the distinction between man and animal has been manufactured by the logical presuppositions of Western thought, and he investigates the profound implications that the man/animal distinction has had for disciplines as seemingly disparate as philosophy, law, anthropology, medicine, and politics. (shrink)
Typically in the philosophical literature, kinds of minds are differentiated by the range of cognitive tasks animals accomplish as opposed to the means by which they accomplish the tasks. Drawing on progress in cognitive ethology (the study of animal cognition), I argue that such an approach provides bad directions for uncovering the mark of the human mind. If the goal is to determine what makes the human mind unique, philosophers should focus on the means by which animals interact with objects (...) in their environments, and not on the sorts of tasks they are able to accomplish. (shrink)
Bear bile has long been used in the Asian traditional pharmacopoeia. Bear farming first started in China ~30 years ago in terms of reducing the number of poached bears and ensuring the supply of bear bile. Approximately 13,000 bears are today captivated on Asia’s bear farms: their teeth are broken and the claws are also pulled out for the sake of human safety; the bears are imprisoned in squeeze cages for years; and a catheter is daily inserted into a bear’s (...) gall bladder or a tube is implanted inside its body in order to collect the dripped bile—captive bears moan in severe pain whenever the bile is extracted. When the bears cannot produce sufficient bile, they are often left to die of starvation. It must be impossible to justify the bile extraction from living bears because (1) medicinal/herbal alternatives are similar to bear bile; (2) there is no evidence to suggest that bear farming has any beneficial effects on wild bear populations; and (3) ethical problems lie not only in the painful bile extraction but also the whole lifecycle of captive bears. In conclusion, human welfare (health care) based on traditional medicine is upheld by sacrificing bear welfare. Since a trial calculation suggests that it is economically unfeasible to keep a proper balance between bear welfare and the traditional pharmacopeia, the cultivation of herbal alternatives seems to be a possible solution to phase out bear faming and maintain the practice of traditional medicine in Asia. (shrink)
In this paper we develop a relational approach to the question of animal agency. We distinguish between agency and action and, using three examples of non-human animal behaviour, explore how human-other animal interactions might be understood in terms of action, agency and resistance. In order to do this we draw on the distinction between primary and corporate agency found in the work of Margaret Archer, arguing that, while non-human animals are able to act and to exercise primary agency, they are (...) unable to exercise corporate agency. Animals are therefore agents; they act and their actions have consequences, they also resist conditions which they do not like and, in some circumstances, are able to change the conditions of their agency. We discuss the place of animals in the social world and the political implications of this way of viewing animal agency. (shrink)
The majority of animal advocacy discourse is unidirectional: Humans are regarded as stewards of animal welfare, and humans control the bestowal of rights and protections upon animals. This article offers a reversal of the typical moral reflection used in animal advocacy. I suggest that our relationship with animals participates in the development of moral faculties requisite for ethical behavior. In other words, we have a lot to learn from animals, not in this instance by documenting their behavior, but from having (...) meaningful relationships with particular animals. Quality interactions with animals can stimulate the imaginative basis for the care and empathy that are crucial for social morality. To accomplish this task, I describe “embodied care” as an extension of feminist care ethics that addresses the body’s role in morality, and argue that our relationships with animals can provide the imaginative foundation for improving human-to-human morality. (shrink)
Are there limits on how human beings can legitimately treat non-human animals? Or can we treat them just any way we please? If there are limits, what are they? Are they sufficiently strong, as some people supp ose, to lead us to be vegetarians and to seriously curtail, if not eliminate, our use of non-human animals in `scientific' experiments designed to benefit us? To fully appreciate this question let me contrast it with two different ones: Are there limits on how (...) we can legitimately treat rocks? And: are there limits on how we can legitima tely treat other human beings? The an swer to th e first ques tion is pre suma bly `No.' Well, that's not q uite right. There are som e limits on what w e can le gitimate ly do with or to rocks. If Paula has a pet rock, then Susan can't justifiably take it away or smash it with a sledge hammer. After all it is Paula's rock. (shrink)
In this article I try to elucidate the concept of human dignity by taking a closer look at the features of a paradigmatic torture situation. After identifying the salient aspects of torture, I discuss various accounts for the moral wrongness of such acts and argue that what makes torture a violation of human dignity is the perverted moral relationship between torturer and victim. This idea is subsequently being substantiated and defended against important objections. In the final part of the chapter (...) I give a (qualified) defense of the methodology employed in the previous sections. (shrink)
Carl Cohen's arguments against animal rights are shown to be unsound. His strategy entails that animals have rights, that humans do not, the negations of those conclusions, and other false and inconsistent implications. His main premise seems to imply that one can fail all tests and assignments in a class and yet easily pass if one's peers are passing and that one can become a convicted criminal merely by setting foot in a prison. However, since his moral principles imply that (...) nearly all exploitive uses of animals are wrong anyway, foes of animal rights are advised to seek philosophical consolations elsewhere. I note that some other philosopher's arguments are subject to similar objections. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to show that humanlanguage is context-dependent in a veryspecific way. In order to support this thesis,a detailed comparison is made between the waysin which verbal expressions depend on thecontext of occurrence and evaluation and animalcommunication systems. The comparisonhighlights a series of analogies anddifferences between human language and thecommunication systems of other animals. Myproposal is to use the term `indexicality' toindicate the characteristic way of using thecontext in human language and to use the moregeneral phrase (...) `context-dependence' for thecorresponding phenomenon in animalcommunication systems. (shrink)
Children seem to have a profound implicit knowledge of human behaviour, because they laugh at Bugs Bunny cartoons where much of the humour depends on animals behaving like humans and our intuitive recognition that this is absurd. Scientists, on the other hand, have problems defining what this 'human difference' is. I suggest these problems are of cultural origin. For example, the industrial revolution and the protestant work ethic have created a world in which work is valued over play, object intelligence (...) over social intelligence, and science and technology over the arts. This may explain why we have so many imaging studies of tool-use and object manipulation, but only four studies of dance, two of pretend play, and one of role-play. Yet in order to understand child development, the evolution of the brain, and the emergence of human self-consciousness, we need to look at social displays-- such as dance, song, image-making and role-play-- which underpin human culture, cooperation and the arts. I will discuss recent brain imaging research on playful versus instrumental behaviour and show how, in conjunction with archaeological data, we can use this to make sense of human evolution. (shrink)