Ethics in America: The Question of Animals
The goal of this class is to survey different approaches to ethical thinking in relation to non-human animals and their dilemmas. In the world named but not captured by the term “animal rights,” philosophical, ethical, and legal theories once sanctioned for use only in relation to humans are now being applied to animals with a varying array of outcomes and conclusions. This course will examine different strategies of animal advocacy as they are manifested in Kantianism, contract based theories, utilitarianism, welfarism. The animal advocacy movement is filled with activists, philosophers, political theorists, feminists, lawyers, and representatives of many different intellectual traditions who disagree about the status of animals, about whether or not we should eat them or wear them or hunt them or train them for entertainment or keep them in our homes. We’ll investigate these conflicts throughout this class by looking at the narratives of particular kinds of animals. While certain forms of public rhetoric may promote an idea that animal advocacy is a seamless, all-or-nothing, rights-based, vegan agenda, this class presumes there are many acceptable positions in relation to non-human animals. While what happens to animals beyond the scope of our vision—at the factory farm, the slaughterhouse, the dog pound, the circus, or the research lab—may indeed be unethical, this class presumes that there are many different ways to formulate moral solutions. Class discussion will focus on novels and memoirs to open our thinking on ethical frameworks for animals.
Pack of Two
Making Rounds with Oscar
Love at Goon Park
Attendance and participation 25%
3-5 page opinion piece about each book and the problems that surround the subject 50%
Expanding ONE paper to 10 pages for final paper 25%