The Death of the Animal

A Dialogue

Paola Cavalieri. With Matthew Calarco, J. M. Coetzee, Harlan B. Miller, and Cary Wolfe. Foreword by Peter Singer

Columbia University Press

The Death of the Animal

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Pub Date: February 2009

ISBN: 9780231145527

168 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $35.00£30.00

Pub Date: February 2009

ISBN: 9780231518239

168 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $34.99£30.00

The Death of the Animal

A Dialogue

Paola Cavalieri. With Matthew Calarco, J. M. Coetzee, Harlan B. Miller, and Cary Wolfe. Foreword by Peter Singer

Columbia University Press

While moral perfectionists rank conscious beings according to their cognitive abilities, Paola Cavalieri launches a more inclusive defense of all forms of subjectivity. In concert with Peter Singer, J. M. Coetzee, Harlan B. Miller, and other leading animal studies scholars, she expands our understanding of the nonhuman in such a way that the derogatory category of "the animal" becomes meaningless. In so doing, she presents a nonhierachical approach to ethics that better respects the value of the conscious self.

Cavalieri opens with a dialogue between two imagined philosophers, laying out her challenge to moral perfectionism and tracing its influence on our attitudes toward the "unworthy." She then follows with a roundtable "multilogue" which takes on the role of reason in ethics and the boundaries of moral status. Coetzee, Nobel Prize winner for Literature and author of The Lives of Animals, emphasizes the animality of human beings; Miller, a prominent analytic philosopher at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, dismantles the rationalizations of human bias; Cary Wolfe, professor of English at Rice University, advocates an active exposure to other worlds and beings; and Matthew Calarco, author of Zoographies: The Question of the Animal from Heidegger to Derrida, extends ethical consideration to entities that traditionally have little or no moral status, such as plants and ecosystems.

As Peter Singer writes in his foreword, the implications of this conversation extend far beyond the issue of the moral status of animals. They "get to the heart of some important differences about how we should do philosophy, and how philosophy can relate to our everyday life." From the divergences between analytical and continental approaches to the relevance of posthumanist thinking in contemporary ethics, the psychology of speciesism, and the practical consequences of an antiperfectionist stance, The Death of the Animal confronts issues that will concern anyone interested in a serious study of morality.

The Death of the Animal is an important and timely book. The economy of its style and the inviting nature of its structure unfold critical debates for many audiences in a number of disciplines across philosophy, science, medicine, and the ever-expanding field of animal studies. Situated to make a salient contribution, Paola Cavalieri's book serves as an invigorating source for thinking about questions old and new so we may see ever more clearly how they continue to shape our futures.

Frances Bartkowski, Rutgers University, and author of Kissing Cousins: A New Kinship Bestiary

The dialogue and dramatic setting of The Death of the Animal make difficult issues and arguments both accessible and palatable. There's much interest in animal ethics, and Paola Cavalieri's reputation, not least in connection with her Great Ape Project, adds to the interest in this short dialogue.

Raymond Corbey, Tilburg University and Leiden University, and author of The Metaphysics of Apes: Negotiating the Animal-Human Boundary

An imaginatively structured and thought-provoking addition to the growing Columbia University Press series in animal studies.

Clare Palmer, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

This stimulating, unique book could have many uses in academic contexts... Recommended.

Choice
Acknowledgments
Foreword, by Peter Singer
The Death of the Animal: A Dialogue on Perfectionism, by Paola Cavalieri
Roundtable
I
Humanist and Posthumanist Antispeciesism, by Cary Wolfe
No Escape, by Harlan B. Miller
Toward an Agnostic Animal Ethics, by Matthew Calarco
Comments on Paola Cavalieri, "A Dialogue on Perfectionism", by John M. Coetzee
II
Notes on Issues Raised by Matthew Calarco, by John M. Coetzee
Pushing Things Forward, by Paola Cavalieri
Distracting Difficulties, by Harlan B. Miller
On Appetite, the Right to Life, and Rational Ethics, by John M. Coetzee
"On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings", by Cary Wolfe
Between Life and Rights, by Matthew Calarco
Notes

About the Author

Paola Cavalieri lives in Milan and is the editor of the international philosophy journal Etica & Animali. She is the author of The Animal Question: Why Nonhuman Animals Deserve Human Rights and, with Peter Singer, edited the award-winning book, The Great Ape Project: Equality Beyond Humanity.