Updated: Sep 28, 2019
Animal Studies in the Key of Animal Rights
By Paul Waldau
This paper has five parts. These parts seek to accomplish two tasks—first, address the expanding studies known variously as “Animal Studies,” “Anthrozoology” and a host of other names, and, second, explore how these fields stand in relation to the popular term “animal rights.” Exploring these tasks pushes all of us to engage which dimensions of our human lives must be mobilized to engage the profoundly important fact that each and every human lives in a multispecies world that is well described as a “more-than-human world.” Our citizenship in such a multispecies world not only suggests the possibility of non-anthropocentric worldviews—our awareness of this larger community also begs a broader, more inclusive perspective than the human-centered and exceptionalist approaches that dominate our education establishment, political realms, legal systems, businesses and many religious institutions. What further begs such breadth and inclusion is the fact that personally, ecologically and thus ethically each of us lives in a fascinating and distinctive series of nested communities replete with other-than-human neighbors. Our local lives and places are embedded in a world that is so clearly shared and more-than-human that our natural abilities to be curious and caring are sparked by the mere presence of nonhuman living beings. We are creatures that need to notice this spark, then protect and ignite it, in order to ground our own personal moral and cognitive development and that of our children.