Animals and Ethics in the History of Modern Philosophy

Aaron Garrett

in The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780195371963
Published online May 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Animals and Ethics in the History of Modern Philosophy

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This article examines the history of early modern philosophy, principally in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It explains why early modern philosophers and jurists seldom reflected deeply about animal life and why the arrival of a decent theory of animal rights in early modern philosophy was a remarkable development. It begins with the general background of rights theory as it was developing in political philosophy. It uses as an instructive example eighteenth-century experimentalist Robert Boyle and his thesis that there is a duty to experiment on animals. It describes the steady movement toward both a rejection of Boyle's view and toward the view that we have moral duties to animals. It argues that this historical trend led to the “invention” of animal rights at the hands of Scottish moral philosopher Francis Hutcheson.

Keywords: animal life; animal rights; early modern philosophy; Robert Boyle; Francis Hutcheson

Article.  13994 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science

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