F&ES 647a/REL 960 / 2016-2017

Animal Ethics

Credits: 3
Fall 2016: Tu, 8:30-10:20, DIV - SG54
What are animals and what are our ethical responsibilities to them? This course introduces students to the major ethical questions in animal ethics and explores a variety of philosophical and religious ways of framing human-animal relationships: Is it ethical to eat animals, experiment upon them, or to keep them in zoos or as pets? Do animals have rights? What does the Bible say about animals and what does the Christian tradition teach us about compassion and mercy towards animals? Do all dogs go to heaven? How does animal ethics challenge and expand traditional models of religious ethics?  
Students will engage with and compare a wide range of questions and insights from animal ethics, animal studies, animal science, art and culture, and environmental philosophy to understand human relationships to animals. We will also examine how religious traditions, most notably Christianity, transmit and inform contemporary views and ethical frameworks that guide our treatment of other living things. In light of this, the course is organized around three basic categories that pose ethical challenges in animal ethics such as problems of knowledge, problems of experience, and problems of practice. 
No prior experience in ethics is required. To enhance learning, students in this course will have face-to-face encounters with real animals, multiple guest speakers will visit the class to share their work, and students will also engage in active learning through art at the Yale University Art Gallery. Students in this course are encouraged to be exploratory, critical, and creative in their thinking