Animal Studies Bibliography

Fogle, Bruce. 1988. Summation: People, animals, and the environment. In Andrew N. Rowan (Ed.), Animals and People Sharing the World (pp. 177-185). Hanover, NH: University Press of New England.

Scholars have generally not studied people's relationships with companion animals. Companion animals were considered to be of little interest since they were domesticated and therefore did not live by the need to survive in the wild. To anthropologists, the role of pets was interesting among other cultures, not our own. Our ignoring of the topic was helped several factors. First, in the modern world we are for the first time able to live with animals without considering them as sources of meat. Second, we are distanced from nature, animals, and the environment. One reason for this distance is the Bible, which sets human apart as supreme. Another reason is an intellectual tradition beginning with Aristotle that argued that nature and animals existed for humans' use. A third reason that we have ignored the study of animals is Descartes' philosophy, which argued that animals, unlike humans, had no consciousness, no capacity for pleasure or pain, and were simply machines for human use. Sociobiology, which ties our behavior to our biological heritage, reminds us of how similar we are to animals and how important it is to study them. The best approach to really understanding the fullness of the interaction between people, animals, and the environment, we must go beyond the limited approaches of one field, be it sociobiology, psychology, anthropology, or whatever, and combine these approaches. Further, we must go beyond laboratory setting to understand these phenomena as they occur in the real world, and as they are caused by both biological predispositions and social influences. It is clear that animals serve important functions for us as companions, helping to ameliorate the stresses caused by loneliness. It is likely that other social species, like dogs, get a similar benefit by using us as companions. But we must investigate this possibility and ask whether we are adequate substitutes for animals' social needs. Another question to ask is how pets affect our relations with other people. Anecdotal evidence suggests that people who have pets are better people (more self-worth, more tolerance, etc.). In which direction is the cause in this case--do people with pets become nicer, or are nicer people more likely to have pets? Since we now know that pets have an important positive effect on people's lives, we must pursue this causal question.



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