Humans and Other Animals
Non-human animals are everywhere in our lives: they’re food, they’re pets, they’re pests, they’re sources of clothing and other products, they’re experimental subjects, they’re the mascots of sports teams and the heroes of children’s stories. Depending on their role, we treat them with affection, indifference, cruelty, or sentimentality. They’re different from us, but also a lot like us in many ways. Thinking about how we regard animals will inevitably involve thinking about how we regard ourselves.
This course considers some of the ethical questions that inevitably arise when we think about animals: what duties do we have to them, and how do those duties differ from the duties we have to our fellow human beings? But we also ask broader questions about human nature and animal nature. What kind of life do we share with other animals, and what do our attitudes toward animals reveal about our attitude toward our own embodied existence?