Animal Studies Bibliography

Jamieson, Dale. 1998. Animal Liberation is an Environmental Ethic. Environmental Values 7: 41-57.

Although many activists consider themselves both environmentalists and animal liberationists, there has been for some time among philosophers a debate about the extent to which the two ethics can be reconciled, most notably in Callicott's 1980 essay rejecting animal liberation in favor of an environmental ethic/land ethic. His argument, since somewhat recanted, was that animal liberationists are conservative, sticking to traditional Western philosophical traditions and simply extending them to animals. Instead of thinking about such things as rights and worrying about individual animals, activists should develop a new philosophy, a land ethic like Leopold's in which we pay attention to protecting the larger group (species, ecosystem, the community of the land). These collectives are valuable, in the new ethic, because nonsentient entities have inherent value that is mind-independent (even if no one were there to enjoy it, it would still have value--a hypothetical last man' therefore should not destroy it). Animal liberationists responded harshly to this doctrine, calling the requirement to sacrifice individual animals for the overall environment environmental fascism' (Regan). Most environmentalist thinkers, including Callicott himself, backed down some from Callicott's position during the 80s, but there is still a sense that the views must be separate. Jamieson argues that care for nonsentient nature and animal liberation can be part of the same ethic. First, there are many issues on which both groups agree, such as opposition to the cattle industry, which both harms animals (including humans) directly and destroys the environment, harming us indirectly. In fact, because we all live in environments, arguments for protecting the environment can be based on the desire to protect animals. Finally, attention to the details of value-based arguments makes distinctions clearer and reveals that the original debate is spurious. First, although the source of values may be sentient (things are valuable only if we are here to value them), the content of the values need not be (we can value things that are not sentient). Second, there is a difference between things of primary and derivative value. Animals who can experience pain or pleasure and a better or worse life are of primary value, and therefore nonsentient beings are not of primary value. This does not mean, however, that things of primary value are necessarily of greater value than things of derivative value--the difference is in kind, not in degree. Third, there is a difference between intrinsically valuing something and non-intrinsically valuing it. The same entity can be valued in either way in different contexts and times, by different valuers, or even at the same time by the same valuer. Our treatment of art illustrates these distinctions--art is of derivative value because it is not sentient, and we generally value it both intrinsically and non-intrinsically (based on its relations to people; 48). During times of war, we may use resources that could be used for lifesaving to instead protect or move works of art, based on ideas about quality of life. Similarly, nonsentient features of the environment are of derivative value, but they can be of extreme value and can be valued intrinsically (49). This leads to the conclusion that valuing the environment is in large part constructed culturally/socially and relative by individual tastes. The subjective nature of this value, however, need not be seen as a problem, because cultural consensus can be very powerful. Despite possible disagreement about what is of primary value, environmentalists and animal liberationists may value saving the environment equally strongly. The commonalities thus outlined indicate the possibility of alliance. Although there remain issues upon which the movements would differ, there is also much unnoticed agreement, as well as great variation of opinion within each movement. In short, Callicott's division is false.


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