2021 Abstracts Stage 3

On Sympathy: Animal Ethics after the Death of God

Animal rights are commonly understood as the rights of non-human animals to live freely from human interference and exploitation. These rights are, however, frequently violated by industries which use non-human animals to create products such as food, clothing, and cosmetics – regardless of the suffering caused to the individuals involved.

It is the purpose of my project to explore the human being’s inability to sympathise with this suffering, arguing that this inability has originated in Christian doctrine and philosophy, and can only be overcome after the death of God.

This project draws upon work from a variety of thinkers – including David Hume, Friedrich Nietzsche, Charles Darwin, Lawrence J. Hatab, Peter Singer and Gary Steiner – to investigate the role of sympathy in the creation of moral values and the Christian narrative of human dominion.

Such discussion entails a revaluation of both our moral values and the value we place on our species, concluding that the advent of nihilism in the West creates an opportunity to recognise our shared kinship with all sentient creatures, and therefore our need to sympathise with them.

2016 Abstracts Stage 2

Conservation or Cruel…Is it right to keep animals captive?

Territory: I will discuss whether it is right to keep animals captive. In particular, if it is right to keep them captive for our entertainment. Animal captivity raises many important moral questions: Is ever right to restrict animal’s liberty and if so, under what conditions? Do human beings have the right to keep other animals captive? Are we the superior species and if so, why is this the case?

Concepts: Peter Singer: humans are animals but language makes us overlook this. As a utilitarian and hedonist, Singer looks towards the end result, where like human beings, other animals choose pleasure over suffering. Kant: we do not have any direct ethical duties to non-human animals. We only owe ethical duties to rational beings, and nonhuman animals are not included in this group.

‘If possessing a higher degree of intelligence does not entitle one human to use another for his or her own ends, how can it entitle humans to exploit non-humans?’ – Peter Singer, Animal Liberation

2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Non-Human Language

MONKEYS! Through a discussion of the possibility of language in non-human great apes I aim to shed light on what makes humans different to other animals. Key thinkers in this are Peter Singer, Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein.

ROBOTS! Through a discussion of the possibility of language in computers I aim to explore the way in which language is acquired and whether it is possible to create an artificial system capable of language. Key thinkers in this are Jean Piaget, John Searle and Ludwig Wittgenstein.

ALIENS! I will also look at the possibility of language in extra-terrestrial life with the aim of demonstrating the limitations of a language which permits abstract thought when describing the world.

Following this discussion, I then aim to demonstrate flaws in philosophical methods and discourse including:
– The use of stereotypes intrinsic to sociological thought, such as that of Karl Marx
– The notion of fragmentation in postmodern thought, such as Jean-Francois Lyotard’s
– Attempts to create universal ethical or existential maxims, such as those found in Friedrich Nietzsche’s work

2013 Abstracts Stage 3

An Enquiry into the Nature of Animal-Human Distinction and its Effects on the Ethical Treatment of Animals

• HYPOTHESIS- Theoretical explanations of the nature of animality through the use of distinctive measures and qualifications which serve to diminish ethical consideration of animals in modern scenarios. Improved ethical consideration of animals needs to take place and so these distinctions should be considered.

• AIMS OF ENQUIRY- Explain the nature of animal through the animal-human distinction from the perspective of Heidegger. Attempt to show that these theoretical accounts are unworthy of providing ethical formulations for the treatment of animals. Consider the idea of ethical reform in the works of Peter Singer.

• Use of primary data and analysis from Heidegger (The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics), Derrida (The Animal That Therefore I am) and Singer (Animal Liberation) as evidence for nature of human-animal distinction that leads to influence of ethical treatment of animals

2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Is Man Beast? Does Instinct Exist in Human Beings? Are We as Different from Animals as We Have Been Led to Believe?

Human Nature vs. Animal Nature
Does Instinct exist in Human beings? Are we as different from animals as we have been led to believe?
“If man has no instincts, all comparison with animals must be irrelevant.” – Midgley

Does EVIL exist in nature? Are humans in denial about the fact that they may well be the most dangerous beasts of them all? We have much to learn from the animal kingdom… Is wickedness an unavoidable element of human nature?

Mary Midgley (1919-) Beast and Man
W.H. Thorpe (19021986) Animal Nature and Human Nature
Sigmund Freud (18561939) The Ego and The Id
John Locke (1632-1704) An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

2013 Abstracts Stage 3

Discussions on the nature of the animal liberation movement – can animal and human exist as equals and does the real possibility of a consensus in the debate exist?

The animal liberation movement was the first movement to be entirely founded by philosophers, and ended up being one of the most important and controversial movements in society then and now. Using the thought of Peter Singer within Animal Liberation and Alasdair MacIntyre within Dependent Rational Animals, among others, my essay aims to assess whether their theories seem intuitionally correct and/or comfortable, and if we can observe what their ideas describe in contemporary society with regard to our relationship with animals. I also take a look at the differences between UK legislation concerning animal welfare and that of other countries, attempting to conclude if the animal rights debate can ever be solved, and how indeed the world should go about doing so.

2012 Abstracts Stage 2

The Moral Status of Animals

‘Animals obviously cannot have a right of free speech or a right to vote because they lack the relevant capacities. But their right to life and to be free of exploitation is no less fundamental than the corresponding right of humans.’ – Julian H. Franklin

In this project I have looked back through the history of animal rights and the way in which the consideration for them is evidently growing. Will this care for the animals ever grow until their rights become equal to ours? Descartes believed that animals were merely muscular machines, unable to feel pain due to the fact that they were lacking in mind and soul. Bentham began the fight for animal rights in the 1800’s. Today, vivisection continues…

‘Speciesism’ – The argument for putting the rights of humans over those of animals – Peter Singer.

‘How we ought to treat animals depends first of all on the relationship we have with them… There is our relation with pets, who are promoted to honorary membership of the moral community. They are an exception, in a sense a perversion, and a temptation too. There is our relation with animals that we keep for our uses, where we have a clear duty of care but we are not trying to establish quasi-personal relations. Then finally there is our relation with animals in the wild. My argument is that we have duties to animals in all these three areas but they are of a different kind depending on the structure of the relationship.’- Roger Scruton

2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Is our Treatment Towards Animals Morally Acceptable in Today’s Modern Society?

Introduction- Why does today’s society hold such diverse attitudes towards animals? Can controversial practices such as factory farming be justified in our anthropocentric society or is it time to modify our relationship with animals? Aim- In my investigation I want to establish why society is so confused regarding the moral of animals. I will consider how our attitudes towards animals in society have changed throughout history by examining the influences of religion and science. After establishing this I then wanted to scrutinize the relevant philosophical theories which I believe are present in our attitudes now. Kant’s notion of personhood justifies using animals in any way for human benefit and thus is appropriate regarding some of today’s animal practices e.g. animal testing. Singer’s utilitarian outlook which considers animals to have equal moral status with mankind can be related to other aspects of society’s attitudes e.g animal charities. Finally I will examine Owen’s ecological outlook on nature which relates to society’s growing concern for the wellbeing of the whole of the natural world. After considering the strengths and weaknesses of all these views I could then establish which moral attitudes we ought to adopt and enforce.

2006 Abstracts Stage 2

A Philosophical Enquiry into the Changing Views on Animal Rights through Time

Territory. I firstly looked into the fashion industry and how the use of fake fur was apparent within this industry. However, this lead me on to the enquiry of animal rights within today’s society and how this view has progressed or changed throughout time. Therefore my search extended to the implications of animal rights and how these rights are philosophically perceived through time, up until the present day. Aim My aim for this project is to understand how we, through time, have got to the age where real fur is being used within the fashion industry and how this choice has been affected by past philosophical thinkers and their influence on society. I will be looking at the relationship between humans and animals. I aim to introduce ethical thoughts and philosophical ideas and implement these into a comprehensible understanding of the change in attitude towards animal rights. Philosophers and sources. I am going to use Peter Singers All animals are equal, Mills’ Utilitarianism and Animal rights and Human Obligation by Tom Regan and Peter Singer. These will be my main texts. I will also use History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell.

2005 Abstracts Stage 3

The Evolution of Animal Rights

Objective: My objective in my project is to look at the way our perception of animals has developed through the ages in England, right up to the “Hunting Act” in 2004. I will attempt to understand why some people have different views then others, for instance to see if there is a direct correlation in opinion between those from a rural community and those that live in the countryside. I will address issues such as experimenting on animals, eating animals and using animals for sport (fox hunting). The philosopher that I will mainly focus on will be Peter Singer, who focused a lot of his work on arguing that animals should be treated as an equal to humans. I will look at his explanation of why animals should be given equal “consideration” as humans receive when deciding on how to act. Sources: As I have already mentioned the philosopher that I will mainly focus on is Peter Singer, so I will use his books, such as “Animal Liberation” and “Ethics”. Along with Singer, I will also look at philosopher such as Deleuze and theories such as Utilitarianism. I will also base a lot of my work on Roger Scruton’s book “Town and Country”, as he addresses the conflicting views of rural and urban communities. I will also look into the progress of the Animal Liberation movement, which can be found in publications such as “Horse and Hound”. Achievements: Having looked at the evolution of animal rights, a major reason for the change appears to be the reduction in contact with animals that those in urban communities now have. Where as previously animals were spread out all over the country, with the agricultural and industrial revolutions animals no longer occupied the cities. Therefore the majority of contact that those people who lived in cities had with animals was with their pets. They therefore looked upon wild animals in the same way they do their pets, as individuals. This is in contrast to those in the countryside whose ‘livestock’ have a ‘working’ purpose. Due to the urban understanding of animals their conservation attitudes often cause more harm to the species they are attempting to save then good. For instance, by making badgers protected species it has caused an outbreak of TB amongst badgers which is being spread to cattle.

2004 Abstracts Stage 3

Rights? What is left for Animals?

Objectives: • To what extent has this notion of rights evolved over time, from the ancient Greeks to the present day? • To what extent do non-human animals possess legal and/or moral rights? • Depending on whether animals do or do not possess legal and/or moral rights I will determine why it is that they do, or do not possess these rights and what has changed. Structure: 1st Chapter: I will trace the notion of ‘Rights’ through the Western Philosophical Tradition from Aristotle to Darwin. I will determine whether or not they believed animals to possess intrinsic value and moral standing; did animals possess rights and if they did not, did they believe that they should. 2nd Chapter: I will look at the 1970’s onwards, what has been referred to as ‘the Greening of Philosophy.’ To what extent has the notion of moral consideration for animals changed? Do animals possess rights, if so, do they possess significantly more rights? 3rd Chapter: I will determine whether animals do, or do not possess legal rights and/or moral rights? Why is it that they do, or do not possess these rights and to what extent has this notion of ‘Rights’ changed? Change: I will look at the 1970’s as the key change as there was an emergence of interest in environmental philosophy and the belief in both moral consideration and moral standing for animals. I will examine to what extent there has been a change in both legal rights and moral rights for animals. Did they and/or do they possess such rights? If there has been a change, Why? Sources: Law Relating to Animals, Brooman and Legge. The Rights of Nature, Nash. Rights, Jones. Animal Rights and Human Obligations, Regan and Singer. Respect for Nature A Theory of Environmental Ethics, Taylor. Animal Rights – a Symposium, Ryder. Environmental Ethics, What Really Matters, What Really Works, Schmidtz and Willot.