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Animal Studies and the Early Modern Period  

Nicole Mennell

The burgeoning field of animal studies has facilitated the exploration of human-animal relations across a variety of disciplines. Following the animal turn in humanities scholarship, a number of studies published in the late 20th and early 21st centuries have demonstrated that animals reflected the social, cultural, and political concerns of the early modern period in a unique manner due to a shift in the ways in which animals were viewed and valued. This shift was largely caused by the increasing commodification of animals, the discovery of new creatures through global exploration, a renewed interest in investigating and documenting all earthly beings, and an enhanced concern for animal welfare. A range of early modern texts reflect this shift in the perception of animals through engaged interaction with conceptions of the human-animal divide and interrogation of human exceptionalism. Animals also inhabit a multitude of early modern texts in a less prominent manner because, as is the case in the modern world, animals lived alongside humans and were a fundamental part of everyday life. While these texts may not at first seem to reveal much detail about the lives of animals and how they were viewed in the early modern period, the field of animal studies has provided a method of bringing nonhuman beings to the fore. When analyzing the representation of nonhuman beings in early modern texts through the lens of animal studies a thorough consideration of the context in which such texts were written and investigation of the lived experience of the animals they seek to portray is required in order to capture, what leading animal studies scholar Erica Fudge terms, a holistic history of animals.

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The Ethics of Veganism and Plant-based Diets  

Carlo Alvaro

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Food Studies. Please check back later for the full article. Humans have been consuming animal flesh and other animal products for at least 2.6 million years. Still today, most human beings eat meat and animal products. Ethical veganism is often touted by many as an ever-increasing lifestyle, an assertion often supported by the exponential growth of the plant-based food market. After almost fifty years of animal rights activism, and with the current popularity of plant-based products, one would expect to see an increase in the percentage of people who follow vegan diets. Regrettably, the devil is in the details. The actual number of people who consume vegan diets is not necessarily increasing. Ethical veganism is not necessarily growing, but rather devolving. For example, while there is no exact figure for the percentage of people who follow vegan diets in the US as of 2023, data from various sources shows that in the U.S., 4% identify as vegetarian, and only a (disappointing) 1% as vegan. Moreover, many countries are increasing meat and animal product consumption. In the U.S., per capita, meat consumption continues to be among the highest in the world.

Article

Animal Rights Education  

Kai Horsthemke

The subject of other-than-human animals, their conscious, conative and cognitive life and also their moral status and their treatment at our (human) hands, is a surprisingly novel topic within philosophy of education, apart from the odd reference to humane education. By contrast, environmental education has received wide coverage, not only by philosophers but also by social scientists, natural scientists and politicians. The present article attempts to fill this gap, at least in part. The psychophysical continuity between humans and other animals has profound moral and pedagogical implications and suggests the desirability of animal-centered (as opposed to human-centered) education. Does antiracist and antisexist education logically entail antispeciesist education? Similarly, is there a logical link between human rights education and animal rights education? Various approaches have been suggested toward including the moral status and ethical treatment of animals as an urgent concern within pedagogy, and teaching and learning generally: • Environmental and sustainability education, ecophilia, and biophilia. • Humane education and theriophilia. • Philosophical posthumanism, critical pedagogy, and ecopedagogy. • Critical animal studies and animal standpoint theory. • Vegan education. Each of these has undeniable strengths and considerable weaknesses. A viable alternative to these approaches is animal rights education. The possibility of animal rights education is clearly contingent on the possibility of animals having (moral) rights – or in principle being ascribable such rights. The promise of animal rights education, in turn, depends on the possibility of animal rights education. If animals were not among the sorts of beings who could meaningfully be said to possess rights, and if animal rights education were logically impossible (other than in a considerably more diluted or trivial sense), then it would make little sense to speak of the ‘promise’ of animal rights education. On the other hand, if animal rights education is philosophically and pedagogically meaningful, then this arguably also involves considerations of desirability, benefits and interests. The account animal rights education presented here involves education in matters of both social justice and “moral feeling,” cultivation of (appropriate) moral sentiments. Given most children’s natural interest in and feeling for animals, this should be easier than is commonly assumed. However, it does require effort, commitment, and consistency on the part of caregivers and educators, parents and teachers alike.

Article

Zoos in Latin America  

Regina Horta Duarte

Modern zoos emerged as mass entertainment, spaces of public leisure and of culture. In the past, they served as monuments and expressions of the degree of “civilization” and progress of a city and its respective country. In Latin America, zoos date from the last quarter of the 19th century. The history of Latin American zoos is a political, cultural, and social history. The conditions of their creation and operation over the decades have conferred important specificities to these institutions. Since their inception, zoos in Latin America have reflected nationalistic aspirations, civilizational projects, and social transformation. Over the decades, the history of many zoos has blended with natural history in Latin America, as many zoo founders were important scientists. The development of new sensitivities toward animals also follows the history of zoos in Latin America from the beginning, because the first animal protection societies appeared at the same time. Today, zoos face vigorous claims from animal rights activists calling for their closure. In view of so many challenges, these institutions are reinventing themselves with an increased focus on conservation and environmental education, joining international zoological societies with high standards of quality. Among several of these societies, the Latin American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums (ALPZA) stands out. Founded in 1990, ALPZA organizes, reshapes, and integrates Latin American zoos, establishing global connections. Various actors play a role in the defense and contestation of zoos, such as politicians, scientists, conservationists, animal protection societies, anti-zoo activists, visitors, administrators, officials, and, of course, thousands of wild animals from all over the world who have lived in Latin American cities for decades.