Taking animal perspectives into account in animal ethics

B. Bovenkerk, Eva Meijer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperAcademicpeer-review


Recent years have seen an explosion of interest in nonhuman animal agency in different fields. In biology and ethology new studies about animal languages, cultures, cognition and emotion are published weekly, affirming Darwin’s thesis that differences between humans and other animals are of degree and not kind. In the broad field of animal studies the symbolic and ontological human-animal distinction is challenged and other animals are presented as actors. These studies challenge existing approaches to animal ethics. Animals are no longer creatures to simply think about: they have their own perspectives on life, and humans can in some instances communicate with them about that. Animal ethics long determined individual moral rights and duties on the basis of nonhuman animal capacities, but this often measures them to human standards and does not take into account that nonhuman animals are a heterogeneous group in terms of capabilities as well as social relations to humans, which influences their scope for agency and possibilities for leading a good life. In our presentation we defend a relational approach to animal ethics, viewing other animals as subjects capable of co-shaping relations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSustainable Governance and Management of Food Systems
Subtitle of host publicationEthical Perspectives
EditorsE. Vinnari, M. Vinnari
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
ISBN (Electronic)9789086868926
ISBN (Print)9789086863419
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2019


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