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Just Animals? The future of the political turn in animal ethics



In the last 15 years, there have been a series of high-profile works of political philosophy exploring animal ethics. These include Martha Nussbaum’s Frontiers of Justice, Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka’s Zoopolis, Robert Garner’s A Theory of Justice for Animals, and Kimberly Smith’s Governing Animals. This “political turn” in animal ethics has been much commented upon, and there is now a considerable literature of monographs, edited collections, special issues, articles, and reviews. There is even a dedicated journal: Politics and Animals. In a forthcoming paper discussing Alasdair Cochrane’s 2018 book Sentientist Politics in that journal, Siobhan O’Sullivan argues that that the book’s publication “points to a maturing of the field. Not so long ago it was thrilling to think that any politically trained scholar might turn their attention to animal questions. With the publication of Sentientist Politics, we see so-called political turn scholars beginning the gradual process of specialisation, with some focusing on political philosophy and others turning their attention to more applied, policy-driven puzzles.”

The political turn in animal ethics has come of age. We thus convene this panel to ask, looking forward and looking back: Where next? Questions to be explored at this panel concern practical and theoretical questions about animals in moral, political, and legal theory. They include, but are not limited to:

  • New directions for the political turn in animal ethics: new disciplines, new questions, new theoretical frameworks.
  • The relationship between the political and moral faces of animal ethics; bringing together moral and political thinking on animals
  • Animals and real-world politics: party politics, protest and activism, legal change; applications and applicability of the political turn in animal ethics.
  • The relationship of the political turn to other animal-focussed disciplines: Animal studies, critical animal studies, animal law, vegan studies, etc.
  • Animals and how to do political theory: non-ideal theory, ideal theory, political realism, etc.
  • Animals and other emancipatory movements: gender, race, ability, age, sexuality, indigeneity, class, future generations, environment, etc.
  • Animals and political inclusion: The “wild”/domestic divide, wild-animal suffering, and other “overlooked” animals.

Confirmed speakers include, in addition to the chairs: Dr Charlotte E. Blattner (Harvard Law School); Dr Alasdair Cochrane (Department of Politics, University of Sheffield); Dr Steve Cooke (Politics and International Relations, University of Leicester); Dr Catia Faria (Centre for Ethics, Politics and Society, University of Minho); Professor Robert Garner (Politics and International Relations, University of Leicester); Dr David Killoren (Institute for Religion & Critical Inquiry, Australian Catholic University); Dr Angela K. Martin (Department of Philosophy, University of Fribourg); Dr Yewande Okuleye (Politics and International Relations, University of Leicester); Susana Pickett (Politics and International Relations, University of Leicester); Dr Dinesh Wadiwel (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Sydney).