By Alasdair Cochrane
Structured round the 5 most crucial colleges inside modern political idea: liberalism, utilitarianism, communitarianism, Marxism and feminism,this is the 1st introductory point textual content to supply an obtainable evaluation at the prestige of animals in modern political theory.
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Extra info for An Introduction to Animals and Political Theory
A consequentialist theory assesses actions and policies solely by their consequences and not, say, by their conformity to some rule or ordinance. Utilitarianism, as we have seen, judges policies by their impact on overall utility or interest-satisfaction. Utilitarians claim that this gives their theory a certain plausibility, grounding it in empirical facts about the real world, as opposed to say abstract and mysterious principles. However, the consequences of actions and policies, and their affect on utility, can always be contested.
3 When we turn to the issue of animal experimentation, however, we ﬁnd that the relevant competing interests are more complex. First of all, Singer points out that some animal experiments pitch trivial human interests against major animal ones, as was the case with eating meat. This is the situation, Singer claims, with painful non-therapeutic experiments that test the safety of cosmetics, detergents or food additives, or which produce fairly useless knowledge about animal behaviour. 4 Such experiments use animals simply as a resource, fail to give due weight to their interest in not suffering and fail to promote utility under Singer’s theory.
Given the central place of human rights in contemporary debates about justice, Kant’s contribution to political theory thus remains incredibly important. And it remains important for animals too, quite simply because it excludes them. 39 But in spite of the thoughts and legacies of Descartes, contract theorists and Kant, it would be quite wrong to conclude that all strands of modern political thought have served to exclude animals from justice. An extremely important line of thought in modern political theory emerged in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries which was very sympathetic to the plight of animals.