Animal Minds and Human Morals: The Origins of the Western Debate

Front Cover
Cornell University Press, 1995 - Philosophy - 267 pages
0 Reviews

"They don't have syntax, so we can eat them." According to Richard Sorabji, this conclusion attributed to the Stoic philosophers was based on Aristotle's argument that animals lack reason. In his fascinating, deeply learned book, Sorabji traces the roots of our thinking about animals back to Aristotelian and Stoic beliefs. Charting a recurrent theme in ancient philosophy of mind, he shows that today's controversies about animal rights represent only the most recent chapter in millennia-old debates.

Sorabji surveys a vast range of Greek philosophical texts and considers how classical discussions of animals' capacities intersect with central questions, not only in ethics but in the definition of human rationality as well: the nature of concepts; how perceptions differ from beliefs; how memory, intention, and emotion relate to reason; and to what extent speech, skills, and inference can serve as proofs of reason. Focusing on the significance of ritual sacrifice and the eating of meat, he explores religious contexts of the treatment of animals in ancient Greece and in medieval Western Christendom. He also looks closely at the contemporary defenses of animal rights offered by Peter Singer, Tom Regan, and Mary Midgley.

Animal Minds and Human Morals sheds new light on traditional arguments surrounding the status of animals while pointing beyond them to current moral dilemmas. It will be crucial reading for scholars and students in the fields of ancient philosophy, ethics, history of philosophy, classics, and medieval studies, and for everyone seriously concerned about our relationship with other species.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Mind
1
the denial of reason to animals
7
Perceptual content expanded
17
Concepts and perceptual appearance without reason or belief
30
Memory preparation and emotion without rational belief
50
Forms universals and abstraction in animals
62
The shifting concept of reason
65
Speech skills inference and other proofs of reason
78
Oikei˘sis and bonding between rational beings
122
the Greeks have the idea of human or animal rights?
134
Anarchy and contracts between rational beings
158
Religious sacrifice and meateating
170
Augustine on irrational animals and the Christian tradition
195
The onedimensionality of ethical theories
208
Principal protagonists
220
Bibliography
221

Plants and animals
97
Morals
105
Responsibility justice and reason
107

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1995)

Richard Sorabji is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at King's College London and an Honorary Fellow at Wolfson College, University of Oxford. He is the author, editor, translator, and annotator of more than a hundred books.

Bibliographic information