Animals and the Moral Community

Mental Life, Moral Status, and Kinship

Gary Steiner

Columbia University Press

Animals and the Moral Community

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Pub Date: September 2008

ISBN: 9780231142342

232 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $60.00£49.95

Pub Date: September 2008

ISBN: 9780231512602

232 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $59.99£49.95

Animals and the Moral Community

Mental Life, Moral Status, and Kinship

Gary Steiner

Columbia University Press

Gary Steiner argues that ethologists and philosophers in the analytic and continental traditions have largely failed to advance an adequate explanation of animal behavior. Critically engaging the positions of Marc Hauser, Daniel Dennett, Donald Davidson, John Searle, Martin Heidegger, and Hans-Georg Gadamer, among others, Steiner shows how the Western philosophical tradition has forced animals into human experiential categories in order to make sense of their cognitive abilities and moral status and how desperately we need a new approach to animal rights.

Steiner rejects the traditional assumption that a lack of formal rationality confers an inferior moral status on animals vis-à-vis human beings. Instead, he offers an associationist view of animal cognition in which animals grasp and adapt to their environments without employing concepts or intentionality. Steiner challenges the standard assumption of liberal individualism according to which humans have no obligations of justice toward animals. Instead, he advocates a "cosmic holism" that attributes a moral status to animals equivalent to that of people. Arguing for a relationship of justice between humans and nature, Steiner emphasizes our kinship with animals and the fundamental moral obligations entailed by this kinship.
Highly recommended. Choice
The book is interesting, stimulating, and well worth reading for anyone interested in animals' cognition and/or moral status. Julia Tanner, Journal of Applied Philosophy
Steiner weaves his narrative through a great deal of material, and in the end proposes a theory of kinship that is sure both to provoke and delight. Brett Buchanan, Society & Animals
Preface
Acknowledgments
1. Arguments Against Rationality in Animals
2. Arguments for Rationality in Animals
3. An Associationist Model of Animal Cognition
4. Liberal Individualism and the Problem of Animal Rights
5. The Ideal of Cosmic Holism
6. "Cosmo-Politics": Grounding Liberal Individualism in Cosmic Holism
Notes
Bibliography
Index
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About the Author

Gary Steiner is John Howard Harris Professor of Philosophy at Bucknell University. He is the author of Animals and the Limits of Postmodernism and Anthropocentrism and Its Discontents: The Moral Status of Animals in the History of Western Philosophy.