March 2017 sees the release of a new and important collection of papers in animal ethics: Pets and People: The Ethics of Our Relationships with Companion Animals. The book, which is available in paperback, hardback and eBook format from Oxford University Press, is edited by Christine Overall, a Professor Emerita of Philosophy at Queen’s University and a member of the Department of Philosophy’s APPLE (Animals in Politics, Philosophy, Law and Ethics) research group.
Animal ethics is generating growing interest both within academia and outside it. This book focuses on ethical issues connected to animals who play an extremely important role in human lives: companion animals (“pets”), with a special emphasis on dogs and cats, the animals most often chosen as pets. Companion animals are both vulnerable to and dependent upon us. What responsibilities do we owe to them, especially since we have the power and authority to make literal life-and-death decisions about them? What kinds of relationships should we have with our companion animals? And what might we learn from cats and dogs about the nature and limits of our own morality?
The contributors write from a variety of philosophical perspectives, including utilitarianism, care ethics, feminist ethics, phenomenology, and the genealogy of ideas. The eighteen chapters are divided into two sections, to provide a general background to ethical debate about companion animals, followed by a focus on a number of crucial aspects of human relationships to companion animals. The first section discusses the nature of our relationships to companion animals, the foundations of our moral responsibilities to companion animals, what our relationships with companion animals teach us, and whether animals themselves can act ethically. The second part explores some specific ethical issues related to crucial aspects of companion animals’ lives-breeding, reproduction, sterilization, cloning, adoption, feeding, training, working, sexual interactions, longevity, dying, and euthanasia.
A number of contributors have links to Queen’s. As well as editing the book, Christine Overall contributed a chapter on death and longevity in companion animals. In addition, three members of Queen’s Animal Defence authored chapters: Katherine Wayne, a former SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Philosophy, contributed a chapter exploring the prevention of companion breeding; Zipporah Weisberg, a former Postdoctoral Fellow in Animal Studies in the Department of Philosophy, contributed a chapter concerning animal-assisted therapy and animal citizenship theory; and Josh Milburn, who is the Department of Philosophy’s current Postdoctoral Fellow in Animal Studies, contributed a chapter criticising the common practice of feeding meat and other animal products to companion animals.
The other contributors are: the late Jean Harvey, to whom the book is dedicated; Cynthia Townley; Antonio Calcagno; Maurice Hamington; Gary Varner; Kathryn Norlock; Bernard Rollin; John Rossi; Jennifer Parks; Jessica du Toit and David Benatar; Tina Rulli; Tony Milligan; Chloë Taylor; and Michael Cholbi. Chloë Taylor (University of Alberta), whose chapter explores sexual ethics and human/dog relations, will be speaking on veganism at Queen’s later in 2017.
For more information, or to purchase the book, see the Oxford University Press website.