The Animal Is Present: The Ethics of Animal Use in Contemporary Art

Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 76 (4):519-528 (2018)
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In recent years, an increasing number of contemporary artists have incorporated live animals into their work. Although this development has attracted a great deal of attention in the artworld and among animal rights activists, it has not been much discussed in the philosophy of art—which is quite remarkable, given the serious ethical and artistic questions that these artworks prompt. I focus on answering two such questions. First, is the use of animals in these artworks ethically objectionable? Or are such artworks instead morally permissible or even laudable? Second, what might be the distinctive value or good of incorporating animals into artworks in this way? In response to both questions, I argue that one distinctive value of some of the artworks I discuss is their ability to facilitate a relationship of moral concern and respect on the part of an audience toward the animals that are a part of the artwork. Insofar as artworks facilitate such relationships, they are not simply artistically important; they are also, to that extent, morally good.

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Anthony Cross
Texas State University

Citations of this work

Environmental aesthetics.Allen Carlson - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

Zoo Animals as Specimens, Zoo Animals as Friends.Abigail Levin - 2015 - Environmental Philosophy 12 (1):21-44.
Recognition, respect.Allen Wood - 2010 - In John Skorupski (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Ethics. Routledge.

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