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Thoughts out of Season on the History of Animal Ethics

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Contrary to conventional wisdom, the earlier Western tradition did not customarily deny souls per se to nonhuman animals; when it denied immortal souls to animals, it sometimes deemed that denial a reason for giving greater consideration to animals in their earthly existence. Nor has the Western tradition uniformly deemed animals intended for human use. Further, there was considerable opposition to the Cartesian view of animals as insentient machines, and—even among those who were convinced—it was not unknown for them to deem it inappropriate to rely on that conviction in the treatment of animals. Moreover, Darwin's (1874) theory of evolution had neither a novel nor a positive impact on the way in which animals were to be regarded and treated. The study of the history of animal ethics needs to be rethought in a far more nuanced manner.

Affiliations: 1: Wilfrid Laurier University, 1203-655 Windermere Road, London, ON, Canada, N5X 2W8


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