This book engages with the changing ways in which we, as a society and culture, look upon and interact with animals, stressing how much animals differ among themselves. An invitation to appreciate the peculiar role of animals in telling important if uncomfortable truths about who we are and where we are heading – namely, towards a world so much poorer in cultural, moral, and biological diversity – as a result of the ongoing decimation of so many other species. Drawing on a variety of thought ranging from that of Midgley, Plumwood, and Murdoch to Levinas, Derrida, and Habermas, from ecophilosophers to conservation biologists, Animal Lives and Why They Matter asks how we have come to this, and what an alternative, less destructive approach to our now precarious coexistence with animals might look like. Spanning the disciplines of philosophy, psychology, and anthropology, this enquiry into various cross-species relationships and encounters will appeal to scholars and students across the humanities and social sciences with interests in philosophy, ethics, human-animal interaction, and environmental thought.
1. Animals make us human
2. Call and response, or eating and being eaten
3. A dog named Bobby: animals as agents and addressees
4. Encounters as experiences of conversion
5. Responsibility and grievability in the face of extinction
Arne Johan Vetlesen is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oslo, Norway. He is the author of A Philosophy of Pain; Evil and Human Agency: Understanding Collective Evildoing; Perception, Empathy, and Judgment; The Denial of Nature: Environmental Philosophy in the Era of Global Capitalism, and Cosmologies of the Anthropocene: Panpsychism, Animism, and the Limits of Posthumanism.