About this topic
Summary

Broadly construed, animal ethics is an area of inquiry and debate that focuses on a variety of approaches to assessing the moral status of nonhuman animals. One of the main approaches in contemporary scholarship is deontological and argues for strict rights for animals on the grounds that they are subjects-of-a-life (Tom Regan) and thus possess inherent worth; such views often seek to expand Kant's ascription of inherent worth to rational agents so that it applies to all sentient beings. Other views, including those of some secular naturalists, seek to ascribe moral status to animals not on the basis of inherent worth but on the basis of capacities shared by all sentient beings. Another main approach encompasses a variety of views that tend to be "welfarist" in the sense that they do not seek to ascribe strict right to animals but instead argue that certain actions performed against animals (such as killing them or using them as sources of milk or eggs) are permissible as long as human beings perform them in a humane manner. Welfarist views are generally utilitarian in character, being based on calculations of the quantity of harm that can be done to a given living being, and they tend to assert hierarchies in which beings that are cognitively more sophisticated can be harmed in ways in which beings that are cognitively less sophisticated cannot; on the basis of such hierarchization, welfarist views typically ascribe moral superiority to human beings over nonhuman animals, although they also tend to avoid a speciesistic privileging of all human beings over all nonhuman animals on the grounds that some nonhuman animals are cognitively superior to some human beings. Thus thinkers such as Peter Singer argue that self-conscious beings have a stronger claim to life than non-self-conscious beings, where self-conscious beings are defined as those that can conceptualize the past, present, and future of their lives as one coherent whole. (Summary written by Gary Steiner and Erwin Lengauer)

Key works

Armstrong, Susan /  Botzler, Richard (ed.) ²2008. The Animal Ethics Reader - (AER). 2nd Edition. London; New York, NY, Routledge. 

Beauchamp, Tom L. / Frey, Raymond G. (eds.) 2011. The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Bekoff, Marc (ed.) 2010. Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare. 2 Volume Set. Santa Barbara, CA, Greenwood Press, Imprint of ABC - Clio. 

Cavalieri, Paola 2001. The Animal Question: Why Non-Human Animals Deserve Human Rights. Oxford, Oxford University Press. 

Chapouthier, Georges (ed.) 1998. The Universal Declaration of Animal Rights: Comments and Intentions. Paris, Ligue Francaise des Droit de l´Animal.

DeGrazia, David (1996). Taking Animals Seriously. Mental Life and Moral Status. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dombrowski, Daniel A. 1997. Babies and Beasts: The Argument from Marginal Cases. Urbana, IL, University of Illinois Press.

Francione, Gary  2008. Animals as Persons: Essays on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation. New York, NY, Columbia University Press.

Garner, Robert 2005. The Political Theory of Animal Rights (Perspectives on Democratization). Manchester, Manchester University Press.

Kalof, Linda / Fitzgerald, Amy (eds.). 2007. The Animals Reader: The Essential Classic and Contemporary Writings. Oxford, Berg.  

Munro, Lyle 2005. Confronting Cruelty. Moral Orthodoxy and the Challenge of the Animal Rights Movement. Human-Animal Studies.  (Dissertation). Leiden, Brill Academic.     

Palmer, Clare (ed.) 2008. Animal Rights. Clare Palmer. Series: The International Library of Essays on Rights. Aldershot, GB, Ashgate Publishing Company.

Pluhar, Evelyn 1995. Beyond Prejudice. The Moral Significance of Human and Nonhuman Animals. Durham, NC, Duke University Press.

Regan, Tom 1983. The Case for Animal Rights. Berkeley, CA, University of California Press.

Rollin, Bernard  ²1992. Animal Rights and Human Morality. Amherst, Prometheus.

Rowlands, Mark ²2009. Animal Rights. Moral Theory and Practice. London, Macmillan Press.

Sapontzis, Steve F. 1987, ²1992. Morals, Reason and Animals. Philadelphia, PA, Temple University Press.

Singer, Peter 1975, ²1990. Animal Liberation. A New Ethics for our Treatment of Animals. New York, NY, New York Review of Book.

Singer, Peter (ed.) 2006. In Defense of Animals. The Second Wave. Malden, Blackwell.

Steiner, Gary 2008. Animals and the Moral Community: Mental Life, Moral Status, and Kinship. New York, NY, Columbia University Press.

Steiner, Gary. 2013. Animals and the Limits of Postmodernism. New York: Columbia University Press.

Introductions Regan, Tom 2001. Animals, treatment of. In: Becker, Lawrence (ed.). Encyclopedia of Ethics. New York, Routledge: 70-74 (on page 72 about Inherentism)

Regan, Tom ³2004. Animal Welfare and Rights. In:  Post, Stephen (ed.). Encyclopedia of Bioethics. 3. edition. New York, NY, Macmillan. E-Book Version

Wilson, Scott 2010. Animals and Ethics In: Fieser, James (ed.). Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Martin, TN, The University of Tennessee at Martin. –

Wise, Steve M. 2011. animal rights. Encyclopaedia Britannica: Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/25760/animal-rights 

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  1. Une théorie morale peut-elle être cognitivement trop exigeante?Nicolas Delon - 2015 - Implications Philosophiques.
    Starting from the typical case of utilitarianism, I distinguish three ways a moral theory may be deemed (over-)demanding: practical, epistemic, and cognitive. I focus on the latter, whose specific nature has been overlooked. Taking animal ethics as a case study, I argue that knowledge of human cognition is critical to spelling out moral theories (including their implications) that are accessible and acceptable to the greatest number of agents. In a nutshell: knowing more about our cognitive apparatus with a view to (...)
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  2. Food, Animals, and the Environment: An Ethical Approach.Christopher Schlottmann & Jeff Sebo - 2018 - New York: Routledge.
    Food, Animals, and the Environment: An Ethical Approach examines some of the main impacts that agriculture has on humans, nonhumans, and the environment, as well as some of the main questions that these impacts raise for the ethics of food production, consumption, and activism. Agriculture is having a lasting effect on this planet. Some forms of agriculture are especially harmful. For example, industrial animal agriculture kills 100+ billion animals per year; consumes vast amounts of land, water, and energy; and produces (...)
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  3. Earth as a Life-Raft and Ethics as the Raft’s Axe.Evangelos D. Protopapadakis - 2016 - In Irina Deretić & Stefan Lorenz Sorgner (eds.), From Humanism to Meta-, Post- and Transhumanism? Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien: pp. 227-242.
    A common metaphor on our planet portrays it as a rescue boat for life that travels in an endless see of cosmic darkness. If this metaphor is to be considered a precise one, this would mean that the earth is the only chance for life to survive the journey – at least as far as animal life is concerned. Apart from this, however, the metaphor implies that our planet is also very fragile, and that its carrying capacity is limited. Now, (...)
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  4. Redefending Nonhuman Justice in Complex Animal Communities: A Response to Jacobs.Cheryl Abbate - 2018 - Journal of Animal Ethics 8 (2):159.
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  5. Animals in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Law: Tort and Ethical Laws.Idan Breier - 2018 - Journal of Animal Ethics 8 (2):166.
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  6. “Aristotle and the Zoon Politkon”: A Response to Abbate.Edward Jacobs - 2018 - Journal of Animal Ethics 8 (2):150.
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  7. The Future of SeaWorld.Katie Javanaud, Harshmeena Sanghani & Grace C. Young - 2018 - Journal of Animal Ethics 8 (2):133.
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  8. A Remarkable Convergence.Andrew Linzey & Clair Linzey - 2018 - Journal of Animal Ethics 8 (2):v.
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  9. Training Young Killers: How Butcher Education Might Be Damaging Young People.Maša Blaznik - 2018 - Journal of Animal Ethics 8 (2):199.
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  10. Cat Wars: The Devastating Consequences of a Dangerous Book.Joan E. Schaffner - 2018 - Journal of Animal Ethics 8 (2):236.
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  11. The Case for Ethical Fur: Is In Vitro Fur a Viable Alternative?Rivers Gambrell, Katie Javanaud & Harshmeena Sanghani - 2018 - Journal of Animal Ethics 8 (2):229.
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  12. Hermeneutical Injustice and Animal Ethics: Can Nonhuman Animals Suffer From Hermeneutical Injustice?Paul-Mikhail Podosky - 2018 - Journal of Animal Ethics 8 (2):216.
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  13. A Case for Recognizing the Rights of Animals as Workers.Rosemary Shaw - 2018 - Journal of Animal Ethics 8 (2):182.
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  14. Should We Help Wild Animals Suffering Negative Impacts From Climate Change?Clare Alexandra Palmer - 2018 - In Svenja Springer & Herwig Grimm (eds.), Professionals in food chains. Wageningen Academic Publishers. pp. 35-40.
    Should we help wild animals suffering negative impacts from anthropogenic climate change? It follows from diverse ethical positions that we should, although this idea troubles defenders of wildness value. One already existing climate threat to wild animals, especially in the Arctic, is the disruption of food chains. I take polar bears as my example here: Should we help starving polar bears? If so, how? A recent scientific paper suggests that as bears’ food access worsens due to a changing climate, we (...)
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  15. Routledge Handbook of Animal Ethics.Bob Fischer (ed.) - 2019 - New York: Routledge.
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  16. How Should One Live? An Introduction to Ethics and Moral Reasoning.Bradley Thames - 2018 - San Diego, CA, USA: Bridgepoint Education.
    This book provides an entry-level introduction to philosophical ethics, theories of moral reasoning, and selected issues in applied ethics. Chapter 1 describes the importance of philosophical approaches to ethical issues, the general dialectical form of moral reasoning, and the broad landscape of moral philosophy. Chapter 2 presents egoism and relativism as challenges to the presumed objectivity and unconditionality of morality. Chapters 3, 4 and 5 discuss utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics, respectively. Each chapter begins with a general overview of the (...)
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  17. An Ad for Devouring Everything.Paul Bali - manuscript
    on copyright and product placement, their ubiquity.
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  18. Review of Nathan Nobis's Animals & Ethics 101.Bob Fischer - 2018 - Between the Species 21 (1).
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  19. Demystifying Animal Rights.Mylan Engel - 2018 - Between the Species 21 (1).
    According to the mysteriousness objection, moral rights are wholly mysterious, metaphysically suspect entities. Given their unexplained character and dubious metaphysical status, the objection goes, we should be ontologically parsimonious and deny that such entities exist. I defend Tom Regan's rights view from the mysteriousness objection. In particular, I argue that what makes moral rights seem metaphysically mysterious is the mistaken tendency to reify such rights. Once we understand what moral rights are and what they are not, we will see that (...)
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  20. Harming Some to Benefit Others: Animal Rights and the Moral Imperative of Trap-Neuter-Release Programs.Cheryl E. Abbate - 2018 - Between the Species 21 (1).
    Because spaying/neutering animals involves the harming of some animals in order to prevent harm to others, some ethicists, like David Boonin, argue that the philosophy of animal rights is committed to the view that spaying/neutering animals violates the respect principle and that Trap Neuter Release programs are thus impermissible. In response, I demonstrate that the philosophy of animal rights holds that, under certain conditions, it is justified, and sometimes even obligatory, to cause harm to some animals in order to prevent (...)
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  21. "Subjects-of-a-Life, Entelechy, and Intrinsic Teleology.Josephine Donovan - 2018 - Between the Species 21 (1).
    This article explores the question of what is a “subject-of-a-life,” Tom Regan’s celebrated term for a living entity to whom, he argued, we humans owe ethical duty. I return to ancient concepts of entelechy and teleological organization, arguing that, stripped of theological implications, they provide a usable basis for modern theorizing about organism and an ethical foundation for condemning such practices as transgenic engineering. Every creature, it is argued, has its own inherited formal identity, which it strives to sustain. This (...)
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  22. Nozick’s Libertarian Critique of Regan.Josh Milburn - 2018 - Between the Species 21 (1).
    Robert Nozick’s oft-quoted review of Tom Regan’s The Case for Animal Rights levels a range of challenges to Regan’s philosophy. Many commentators have focussed on Nozick’s putative defence of speciesism, but this has led to them overlooking other aspects of the critique. In this paper, I draw attention to two. First is Nozick’s criticism of Regan’s political theory, which is best understood relative to Nozick’s libertarianism. Nozick’s challenge invites the possibility of a libertarian account of animal rights – which is (...)
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  23. Coetzee and Animals, Literature and Philosophy. Malamud - 2012 - Journal of Animal Ethics 2 (2):212.
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  24. The Face of Suffering. Dombrowski - 2012 - Journal of Animal Ethics 2 (2):205.
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  25. In Search of the Missing Ingredient: Religious Slaughter, Incremental Failure, and the Quest for the Right to Know: A Response to Anna Joseph.Simon Brooman - 2016 - Journal of Animal Ethics 6 (2):153.
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  26. Boycotted Hospital: The National Anti-Vivisection Hospital, London, 1903–1935.A. W. H. Bates - 2016 - Journal of Animal Ethics 6 (2):177.
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  27. On Imitating the Regimen of Immortality or Facing the Diet of Mortal Reality: A Brief History of Abstinence From Flesh-Eating in Christianity.Carl Frayne - 2016 - Journal of Animal Ethics 6 (2):188.
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  28. Going Dutch: A Model for Reconciling Animal Slaughter Reform With the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.Anna Joseph - 2016 - Journal of Animal Ethics 6 (2):135.
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  29. An Ecocritical Approach to Cruelty in the Laboratory.Hadas Marcus - 2016 - Journal of Animal Ethics 6 (2):223.
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  30. "Higher" and "Lower" Political Animals: A Critical Analysis of Aristotle's Account of the Political Animal. Abbate - 2016 - Journal of Animal Ethics 6 (1):54.
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  31. What Guides Moral Consideration? Wittgenstein and Diamond on Imagination and Animal Ethics. Balaska - 2016 - Journal of Animal Ethics 6 (1):10.
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  32. Two Cheers for Technology.Andrew Linzey & Clair Linzey - 2016 - Journal of Animal Ethics 6 (2):v.
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  33. Animal Law in Australasia: A Universal Dialogue of “Trading Off” Animal Welfare. Schaffner - 2016 - Journal of Animal Ethics 6 (1):95.
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  34. An Opportunity Preempted: Kim Socha’s Atheism Versus Religious Animal Liberationists. Williams - 2016 - Journal of Animal Ethics 6 (1):89.
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  35. Grounded in Love: A Theistic Account of Animal Rights. Cahill - 2016 - Journal of Animal Ethics 6 (1):67.
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  36. How Do Human-Animal Emotional Relationships Influence Public Perceptions of Animal Use? Cox & Montrose - 2016 - Journal of Animal Ethics 6 (1):44.
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  37. Animals and Climate Change. Thornes - 2016 - Journal of Animal Ethics 6 (1):81.
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  38. Ethical Issues of Mammoth Proportions? Reviving and Re-Engineering the Extinct. O'Sullivan - 2015 - Journal of Animal Ethics 5 (2):195.
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  39. Ameliorating Nonhuman Animals’ Lives: Erin McKenna’s Pets, People, and Pragmatism. Palop - 2015 - Journal of Animal Ethics 5 (2):188.
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  40. Challenging the Iconography of Oppression in Marketing: Confronting Speciesism Through Art and Visual Culture.J. Keri Cronin & Lisa A. Kramer - 2018 - Journal of Animal Ethics 8 (1):80.
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  41. On Ascribing Personhood to All Primates.Laura Donnellan - 2018 - Journal of Animal Ethics 8 (1):103.
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  42. The Ethics of Killing “Surplus” Zoo Animals.Crystal Allen Gunasekera - 2018 - Journal of Animal Ethics 8 (1):93.
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  43. The Legal Lacunae of Human-Animal Hybrids and Chimeras Within Patent Law.Maureen O'Sullivan - 2018 - Journal of Animal Ethics 8 (1):62.
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  44. Do Animals Have a Bad Life?Michael Hauskeller - 2018 - Journal of Animal Ethics 8 (1):50.
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  45. Schopenhauer and Buddhism: Soulless Continuity.Christopher Ketcham - 2018 - Journal of Animal Ethics 8 (1):12.
    Arthur Schopenhauer did not believe in soul. However, he explained that every living thing is possessed by a will. Will is universal. Suffering is universal. Even so, he thought it ethically wrong to cause undue suffering to any person or animal. As a student of Buddhism, Schopenhauer was intrigued by the Buddhist belief in rebirth. I will explore how both Schopenhauer’s idea of the ever-present will and Buddhist rebirth are similar in their concern with and for continuity. For Schopenhauer, continuity (...)
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  46. Looking Backward and Forward.Andrew Linzey & Clair Linzey - 2018 - Journal of Animal Ethics 8 (1):v.
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  47. Two Forms of Abolitionism and the Political Rights of Animals: A Case Study.Walter Scott Stepanenko - 2018 - Journal of Animal Ethics 8 (1):26.
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  48. Rabbits: A Screenplay.Paul Bali - manuscript
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  49. Animal Ethics — A Contemporary Introduction.Bob Fischer - forthcoming - New York: Routledge.
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  50. Dewey and Animal Ethics.Steven Fesmire - 2004 - In Erin McKenna & Andrew Light (eds.), Animal Pragmatism: Rethinking Human Nonhuman Relationships. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. pp. 43-61.
    Animal ethics, which investigates the appropriate ethical relationship between humans and nonhuman animals, is a field that was until recently ignored by most contemporary philosophers working in the classical pragmatist tradition. There are several reasons for this neglect. For example, one who sidesteps a confrontation over the relative merits of the utilitarian maxim or the Kantian practical imperative as supreme moral principles is not likely to quibble over anthropocentric versus sentientist variations of these principles. An unfortunate result is that pragmatism (...)
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