Honors | Animal Ethics (HON)
H203 | 16917 | Alyce Miller


TuTh 2:30-3:45pm
BH 335

Have you ever pondered the lives of non-human animals and wondered
about their intelligence, cognition, and emotions? Have you ever
asked yourself what it means to “love” animals, or “not love” them?
What are the moral/ethical obligations, if any, we owe them? Where
do our beliefs and ideas about the status of animals come from,
culturally, historically, and philosophically? Over the centuries,
what have some of the greatest minds had to say on the subject of
whether or not non-human animals deserve our moral consideration?
How have notions about the treatment and use of animals changed over
time? How has factory farming changed the conversation about eating
animals? And though animal cruelty laws now exist in every state,
they do not apply to animals in research or farming, and animals are
still, in the eyes of the law, considered property. What does it
mean, for example, to “own” an animal? What rights and
responsibilities accompany ownership? Who owns wild animals? What do
terms like “animal welfare” and “animal rights” actually mean? Do
you believe that animals should be free of human-inflicted
suffering, or are there times when animal suffering is justified in
the interests of “serving humanity”? Do you think non-human 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 and  status from animals used in medical
research and entertainment, or farm and wild animals consumed for
food or clothing? How do non-meaters and meat-eaters talk to each
other? In this class, we  will pursue “the question of the animal”---
-that is, our relationships and interactions, and our uses and
treatment of----through a variety of readings across numerous
disciplines, with a focus on “ethics.” We will engage with the works
of various philosophers, ethicists, ethologists, scientists,
lawyers, religious thinkers, fiction writers, poets, and essayists,
as well as discuss three documentary films, Wild Parrots of
Telegraph Hill, Grizzly Man, and The Tiger Next Door, which will be
available on library reserve. We will also have several engaging
guest speakers. In addition to the readings, assignments are likely
to include all or some of the following: regularly assigned response
papers, essay quizzes, at least one substantial paper on a topic of
your choice, a brief class presentation, and an exam. Your
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.