Strangers to Nature brings together many of the leading scholars who are working to redefine and expand the discourse on animal ethics. This volume will engage both scholars and lay-people by revealing the breadth of theorizing about the human/non-human animal relationship that is currently taking place.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the earlier Western tradition did not customarily deny souls per se to nonhuman animals; when it denied immortal souls to animals, it sometimes deemed that denial a reason for giving greater consideration to animals in their earthly existence. Nor has the Western tradition uniformly deemed animals intended for human use. Further, there was considerable opposition to the Cartesian view of animals as insentient machines, and—even among those who were convinced—it was not unknown for them to deem (...) it inappropriate to rely on that conviction in the treatment of animals. Moreover, Darwin's theory of evolution had neither a novel nor a positive impact on the way in which animals were to be regarded and treated. The study of the history of animal ethics needs to be rethought in a far more nuanced manner. (shrink)
A common contemporary view is that the Bible and subsequent Christian thought authorize humans to exploit animals purely as means to human ends. This paper argues that Biblical and Christian thought have given rise to a more complex ethic of animal use informed by its pastoralist origins, Biblical pronouncements that permit different interpretations, and competing ideas and doctrines that arose during its development, and influenced by the rich and often contradictory features of ancient Hebrew and Greco-Roman traditions. The result is (...) not a uniform ethic but a tradition of unresolved debate. Differing interpretations of the Great Chain of Being and the conflict over animal experimentation demonstrate the colliding values inherent in the complex history of Biblical and Christian thought on animals. (shrink)
From ancient Greece to the present, philosophers have variously emphasized either the similarities or the differences between humans and nonhuman animals as a basis for ethical conclusions. Thus animal ethics has traditionally involved both factual claims, usually about animals’ mental states and capacities, and ethical claims about their moral standing. However, even in modern animal ethics the factual claims are often scientifically uninformed, involve broad generalizations about diverse taxonomic groups, and show little agreement about how to resolve the contradictions. Research (...) in cognitive ethology and animal welfare science provides empirical material and a set of emerging methods for testing the plausibility of claims about animal mentation and thus for clarifying the interests and needs of animals. We suggest that progress in animal ethics requires both philosophically informed science to provide an empirically grounded understanding of animals, and scientifically informed philosophy to explore the ethical implications that follow. (shrink)