Honors | Animal Ethics
H203 | 8198 | Alyce Miller

MW 5:45-7:00pm

Have you ever pondered the lives of non-human animals and whether
they have intelligence, cognition, and emotions? Have you wondered
about the kinds of relationships you personally have to them? Maybe
it starts with observing a pet dog or cat or rabbit, and wondering
what they’re thinking, or maybe you’ve watched animals in zoos or in
the wilds,  or you grew up with farm animals. Have you asked
yourself what it means to “love” animals, or “not love” them? Have
you considered the kinds of moral/ethical obligations, if any, you
think we owe animals?  By law, animals are considered property. What
are the implications of that status? What does it mean, for example,
to “own” an animal?  What rights and responsibilities accompany
owernship? Who owns wild animals? What do terms like “animal
welfare” and “animal rights” mean to you? Do you believe that
animals should be free of human-inflicted suffering? Do you think
animals have a right to autonomy or happiness? If so, what might
animal autonomy or happiness look like? Should animals we view as
pets be given different treatment or status from animals we use in
medical research or consume for food and clothing? Should we consume
animals for food and clothing?  If so, should those animals be
treated humanely? And, if so, what does humane treatment look like?
We will pursue “the question of the animal”----that is, our
relationships and interactions with, uses and treatment of----by
blending a few literary texts like Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals
with provocative and surprising essays by various philosophers,
ethicists, ethologists, and even lawyers. We will examine some of
these complex questions through an “ethics” approach, with a little
literature, law, and two documentary films thrown into the pot.  In
addition to the readings, assignments may include all or some of the
following: regularly assigned response papers, essay quizzes, at
least one paper on a topic of your choice, and an exam. Dedication
to active and substantive participation in discussions, and careful
preparation of the readings in advance of class are absolutely
essential to the success of this class.
Please note: there will be a first-day  assignment which will be
posted on my web page by December 1. In order to prepare for it,
please go to my web page  http://mypage.iu.edu/~almiller/
and then to Student Pages (right hand side). Click on Teaching
Schedule.  Be sure you are looking at the assignment for the right
class. I will also include the class reading list for you so that
you may purchase your books in advance. If you cannot access the
information on December 1, please contact me at almiller@indiana.edu