Animal Pragmatism: Rethinking Human-Nonhuman Relationships by Erin McKenna, Andrew Light

By Erin McKenna, Andrew Light

What does American pragmatism give a contribution to modern debates approximately human-animal relationships? Does it recognize our connections to all dwelling issues? Does it convey us towards a moral therapy of all animals? What approximately looking, vegetarianism, animal experimentation, and the welfare of livestock? whereas questions on human relatives with animals were with us for millennia, there was a marked upward thrust in public know-how approximately animal matters - even McDonald's advertises that they use humanely taken care of animals as nutrients resources. In "Animal Pragmatism", 12 vigorous and provocative essays deal with issues on the intersection of pragmatist philosophy and animal welfare. themes hide a large variety of concerns, together with ethical attention of animals, the ethics of animal experimentation, institutional animal care, environmental defense of animal habitat, farm animal welfare, animal communique, and animal morals. Readers who have interaction with animals, even if as pets or on a plate, will discover a powerful and engaging exploration of human-nonhuman relationships. Its members are: James M. Albrecht, Douglas R. Anderson, Steven Fesmire, Glenn Kuehn, Todd Lekan, Andrew gentle, John J. McDermott, Erin McKenna, Phillip McReynolds, Ben Minteer, Matthew Pamental, Paul Thompson, and Jennifer Welchman.

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In Nature, Emerson describes human intelligence—such as our development of language and technologies—as emerging from nature, anticipating the Deweyan view that human arts constitute an extension and augmentation of experience’s natural processes of growth and consummation. “Nature, in its ministry to man,” Emerson writes, “is not only the material but is also the process and result,” and “the useful arts are reproductions or combinations by the wit of man, of these same natural benefactors” (12), and he cites the steam engine and railroad as such technological extensions of nature: He no longer waits for favoring gales, but by means of steam, he realizes the fable of Æolus’s bag, and carries the two and thirty winds in the boiler of his boat.

A second, and related, concern focuses on the ways our existing concepts may prevent us from perceiving and engaging aspects of our environment that might elicit novel experiences, activities, and results. The self depends on interaction with its environment—both cultural and natural—to elicit its potential powers: “No man can antedate his experience, or guess what faculty or feeling a new object shall unlock,” Emerson observes, “any more than he can draw today the face of a person whom he shall see to-morrow for the ¤rst time” (“History” 255).

Second, James insists that the purpose of moral inquiry is to diagnose problems that have arisen in a speci¤c set of conditions and to remedy them by working to create new conditions in which more demands will be satis¤ed, more ideals realized. “Abstract rules can indeed help,” but they must be treated as tools for intelligently engaging with and transforming speci¤c circumstances. Here again we see pragmatism’s af¤nities with utilitarianism, and see as well why pragmatism would reject the Kantian approach to animals that Regan takes, which insists that morality lies in following the dictates of a principle, regardless of speci¤c consequences.

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