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. The Ethics of Attention: Engaging the Real with Iris Murdoch and Simone Weil.Silvia Caprioglio Panizza - 2022 - New York, NY, USA: Routledge Studies in Ethics and Moral Theory.
    This book draws on Iris Murdoch's philosophy to explore questions related to the importance of attention in ethics. In doing so, it also engages with Murdoch's ideas about the existence of a moral reality, the importance of love, and the necessity but also the difficulty, for most of us, of fighting against our natural self-centred tendencies. Why is attention important to morality? This book argues that many moral failures and moral achievements can be explained by attention. Not only our actions (...)
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  2. ANIMALISTS - Philosophers, activists and other defenders of non-human animals.Víctor Andrés Montero Cam - 2022
    ANIMALISTS - Philosophers, activists and other advocates of non-human animals.
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  3. Asian Perspectives on Animal Ethics: Rethinking the Nonhuman.Neil Dalal & Chloe Taylor - 2014 - Routledge.
    To date, philosophical discussions of animal ethics and Critical Animal Studies have been dominated by Western perspectives and Western thinkers. This book makes a novel contribution to animal ethics in showing the range and richness of ideas offered to these fields by diverse Asian traditions. Asian Perspectives on Animal Ethics is the first of its kind to include the intersection of Asian and European traditions with respect to human and nonhuman relations. Presenting a series of studies focusing on specific Asian (...)
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  4. Three and a half ways to a hybrid view in animal ethics.David Killoren & Robert Streiffer - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-24.
    The distinctive feature of a hybrid view is that it divides moral patients into two classes: call them dersons and uersons. Dersons have a deontological kind of moral status: they have moral rights against certain kinds of optimific harms. Uersons, by contrast, have a utilitarian kind of moral status: their interests are morally important, but uersons do not have deontological moral rights or any other kinds of deontological protections. In this paper, we discuss and critically evaluate three ways of supporting (...)
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  5. A New Interpretation of Animal Ethics.Nathan Nobis - forthcoming - Society and Animals:1-5.
    This is a review of Christine Korsgaard's Fellow Creatures for the journal "Animals & Society.".
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  6. The Case for an Interspecies Theory of Democracy.Robert Garner - 2022 - Journal of Animal Ethics 12 (1):96-102.
    This review seeks to locate Vink's book, The Open Society and Its Animals, within the wider terrain of the political turn in animal ethics. It explains what is meant by a nonanthropocentric interspecies theory of democracy, and how it might be justified, and sets out Vink's distinction between the political and legal representation of animals together with her preference for the latter. While agreeing that there is a strong case for a nonanthropocentric theory of democracy, and that an enfranchisement model (...)
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  7. Animal Ethics Based on Friendship: An Aristotelian Perspective.Jorge Torres - 2022 - Journal of Animal Ethics 12 (1):76-88.
    This article examines Aristotle's views concerning the possibility of friendship between human beings and nonhuman animals. The suggestion that he denies this possibility is rejected. I reassess the textual evidence adduced by scholars in support of this reading, while adding new material for discussion. Central to the traditional reading is the assumption that animals, in Aristotle's view, cannot be friends in virtue of their cognitive limitations. I argue that Aristotle's account of animal cognition is perfectly consistent with the possibility of (...)
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  8. The Betrayed Fish: Reply to Oldfield.Jonathan P. Balcombe - 2022 - Journal of Animal Ethics 12 (1):59-62.
    Empirical evidence suggests that fishes, as a whole, are emotional and possess intelligence comparable to that of mammals. Furthermore, although data are sparse, recent studies suggest that representatives from the two major “fish” taxa—bony fish and cartilaginous fish —may possess self-awareness and a theory of mind. These capacities indicate that a fish could be capable of the emotion of betrayal. Modern, small-scale aquaculture operations present preconditions in which betrayal might be felt by a fish.
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  9. You Can't Betray a Fish: One Reason Eating Fish May Cause Less Harm Than Eating Cows.Ronald G. Oldfield - 2022 - Journal of Animal Ethics 12 (1):51-58.
    In The Ultimate Betrayal: Is There Happy Meat?, Bohanec proposed that farmed animals raised humanely may experience betrayal when slaughtered. I argue based on personal experience that humans often betray trust relationships with farmed animals. Using published scientific literature, I find that typical farmed animals and farmed fishes are both cognitively capable of a rudimentary experience of betrayal. However, the manner in which fishes are typically maintained does not present opportunities for human-fish trust relationships to develop. Eating farmed fishes presents (...)
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  10. The Animals We Eat: Between Attention and Ironic Detachment.Silvia Panizza - 2022 - Journal of Animal Ethics 12 (1):32-50.
    This article engages with two fundamental attitudes toward animals who are used for human consumption: attention and ironic detachment. Taken as polarities linked with animal consumption and the refusal thereof, I discuss how these two attitudes are shaped and manifested during moments of encounter with the animals in question. Starting from a striking photograph from the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival in China, I explore the embodiment of these attitudes in the “gaze” of human participants during the encounter with animals (...)
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  11. Legal Personhood: An Analysis of the Legal Rights of Corporations and Their Relation to Animal Ethics.Jason P. Kight & T. S. Johnson - 2022 - Journal of Animal Ethics 12 (1):23-31.
    In the United States of America, and in much of the world, corporations are afforded a great deal of rights to both protect themselves and others against legal action and mistreatment. To gain these rights, they defended themselves or were defended many times throughout the years in courts under the framework of “legal personhood”—but this same legal personhood is not afforded to most actual living creatures. There is enough similarity in the legal framework afforded to corporations that should be afforded (...)
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  12. Beyond Cages: Animal Law and Criminal Punishment.Angela Fernandez - 2022 - Journal of Animal Ethics 12 (1):114-117.
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  13. Bringing the Dead Sea to Life: Art and Nature at the Lowest Place on Earth.Linda Johnson - 2022 - Journal of Animal Ethics 12 (1):111-114.
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  14. An Ape Ethic and the Question of Personhood.Elizabeth Tyson - 2022 - Journal of Animal Ethics 12 (1):109-111.
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  15. Cultural Representations of Other-Than-Human Nature.Jessica Holmes - 2022 - Journal of Animal Ethics 12 (1):108-109.
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  16. The Palgrave Handbook of Practical Animal Ethics.John Rossi - 2022 - Journal of Animal Ethics 12 (1):103-105.
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  17. Animals and Animality in Primo Levi's Work.Elena Past - 2022 - Journal of Animal Ethics 12 (1):105-108.
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  18. Ontology Matters: Humans and Other Animals in Classical Sociological Thought.Barry Smart - 2022 - Journal of Animal Ethics 12 (1):89-95.
    An overview and analysis of Salla Tuomivaara's comparison of the respective views of Emile Durkheim and Edward Westermarck on sociology, humans, and other animals.
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  19. Not So Happy Hens.Andrew Linzey & Clair Linzey - 2022 - Journal of Animal Ethics 12 (1):v-vi.
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  20. Zoroaster and the Animals.Randall E. Otto - 2021 - Journal of Animal Ethics 11 (2):73-82.
    Religion is often criticized for failing to uphold animal concerns, yet Zoroastrianism, an ancient religion that underlies the Abrahamic traditions as well as Eastern religions, offers some strikingly contemporary concerns regarding the kinship of human and nonhuman animals. Human and nonhuman animals alike have souls, free will, and life after death. In the middle of the second millennium BCE, Zoroaster called attention to the treatment of animals as necessary to the divine order and righteousness that has been disturbed by evil (...)
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  21. The Convenient Disregard for the Rattus Species in the Laboratory Environment: Implications for Animal Welfare and Science.Elena T. Contreras & Bernard E. Rollin - 2021 - Journal of Animal Ethics 11 (2):12-30.
    This article encourages a rethinking of how rats are regarded within the laboratory research environment. The rat’s remarkable intellect and cognitive capacities are well known yet conveniently ignored. An understanding of the five domains of animal welfare and the telos of the rat necessitate that the rat’s circumstances, namely habitat accommodations, in the research arena be reassessed. The rat-ness of being a rat must be considered, celebrated, and elevated to significantly higher standards. We advocate for a new research paradigm if (...)
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  22. Ambiguous Care: More-Than-Human Care at the Beehive.Jack Slater - 2021 - Journal of Animal Ethics 11 (2):42-52.
    Ethical approaches rooted in care are distinct and important contributors to ethical discussions surrounding animals. Recently, however, concern has been raised that practices of care can facilitate the instrumentalization of animal life in a way that is antithetical to an ethical relationship toward animals. This article explores this debate through a discussion of contemporary apiculture practices. This analysis reveals that the practices of care that constitute contemporary apiculture are the very same practices that have facilitated the instrumentalization of the honeybee. (...)
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  23. Masking the Problem.Clair Linzey & Andrew Linzey - 2021 - Journal of Animal Ethics 11 (2):v-vii.
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  24. The Threat of Great Ape Extinction From COVID-19.Paula Casal & Peter Singer - 2021 - Journal of Animal Ethics 11 (2):6-11.
    The current pandemic could give several ape species the final push into extinction. Besides the direct harm the virus may cause to species that are very susceptible to human respiratory pathogens, the pandemic has also brought an economic crisis with lockdowns and absence from usual workplaces, resulting in increased poaching and habitat encroachment. The countries where the remaining apes live cannot shoulder alone the cost of conservation. Other countries with more resources have also contributed to ape extinction and are also (...)
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  25. A Positive Small Step in the Treatment of Animals in China.Deborah Cao - 2021 - Journal of Animal Ethics 11 (2):1-5.
    Due to the suspected link between the coronavirus pandemic and the consumption of free-living animals, the Chinese legislature imposed a comprehensive ban on the illegal trade and eating of terrestrial free-living animals in February 2020. This was followed by a revised national list of animals that can be farmed and eaten and a landmark ban of cat and dog eating in the cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai, the first such bans in China. These recent developments in China may have a (...)
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  26. Animal Ethics and the Nonconformist Conscience.Cassandra Carkuff Williams - 2021 - Journal of Animal Ethics 11 (2):113-115.
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  27. “Being the Spiders”: The Human-Animal in Kazuo Ishiguro’s and Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go.Djoymi Baker - 2021 - Journal of Animal Ethics 11 (2):97-105.
    Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2005 science fiction novel Never Let Me Go and Mark Romanek’s 2010 film adaptation depict an alternate past in which human longevity is achieved by harvesting organs from clones. The clones seem ostensibly human and yet are considered nonhuman “creatures.” The book and film use differing strategies to align the nonhuman clones with nonhuman animals, a connection that is often ambivalent and contradictory. This article argues that through narrational and audio-visual address respectively, the reader and viewer are encouraged (...)
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  28. Mobilizing Traditions in the First Wave of the British Animal Defense Movement.A. W. H. Bates - 2021 - Journal of Animal Ethics 11 (2):110-111.
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  29. The Routledge Companion to Animal-Human History.Isabel Barber - 2021 - Journal of Animal Ethics 11 (2):107-110.
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  30. Our Dog Red: A Small Token of Remembrance.Michael Gilmour - 2021 - Journal of Animal Ethics 11 (2):106-107.
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  31. The Global Guide to Animal Protection.Robert Lazo - 2021 - Journal of Animal Ethics 11 (1):105-106.
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  32. Animal Law in Australia: An Integrated Approach.Elizabeth Dale - 2021 - Journal of Animal Ethics 11 (1):114-116.
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  33. A Practical Approach to Animal Welfare Law.Simon Brooman - 2021 - Journal of Animal Ethics 11 (1):112-114.
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  34. Allowed to Grow Old: Portraits of Elderly Animals From Farm Sanctuaries.J. Keri Cronin - 2021 - Journal of Animal Ethics 11 (1):110-112.
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  35. Sentientist Politics: A Theory of Global Inter-Species Justice.Per-Anders Svärd - 2021 - Journal of Animal Ethics 11 (1):108-110.
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  36. Animals and the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster.Yoko Kito - 2021 - Journal of Animal Ethics 11 (1):106-108.
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  37. In the Eye of the Animal: Zoological Imagination in Ancient Christianity.Oliver B. Langworthy - 2020 - Journal of Animal Ethics 10 (2):203-209.
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  38. Animals in the Writings of C. S. Lewis.Randy Malamud - 2020 - Journal of Animal Ethics 10 (2):205-206.
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  39. Our Symphony with Animals: On Health, Empathy, and Our Shared Destinies.Matthew J. Webber - 2020 - Journal of Animal Ethics 10 (2):208-209.
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  40. Ethical Veganism, Virtue Ethics, and the Great Soul.Daniel A. Dombrowski - 2020 - Journal of Animal Ethics 10 (2):206-208.
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  41. Christianity and the Rights of Animals.Martin Henig - 2020 - Journal of Animal Ethics 10 (1):82-84.
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  42. Animal Labor and Colonial Warfare.Kendra Coulter - 2020 - Journal of Animal Ethics 10 (1):96-97.
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  43. The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Animal Ethics.Michael Gilmour - 2020 - Journal of Animal Ethics 10 (1):91-93.
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  44. ART for Animals: Visual Culture and Animal Advocacy, 1870–1914.Robyn Hederman - 2020 - Journal of Animal Ethics 10 (1):89-91.
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  45. Animals in the Great War: Rare Photographs From Wartime Archives.Linda M. Johnson - 2020 - Journal of Animal Ethics 10 (1):79-82.
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  46. Captive.Linda M. Johnson - 2020 - Journal of Animal Ethics 10 (1):84-86.
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  47. The Animal Inside: Essays at the Intersection of Philosophical Anthropology and Animal Studies.Jennifer Clements - 2019 - Journal of Animal Ethics 9 (2):234-235.
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  48. Veterinary Ethics: Navigating Tough Cases.Jonathan Balcombe - 2019 - Journal of Animal Ethics 9 (2):233-234.
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  49. The Great Cat and Dog Massacre: The Real Story of World War II’s Unknown Tragedy.A. W. H. Bates - 2019 - Journal of Animal Ethics 9 (2):232-233.
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  50. Carnivore Minds: Who These Fearsome Creatures Really Are.Elisa Galgut - 2019 - Journal of Animal Ethics 9 (2):229-231.
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