Literary Works and Animal Ethics

Tzachi Zamir

in The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Literary Works and Animal Ethics

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This article notes that a number of Anglo-American moral philosophers have turned to literature for insights into moral reflection on animals. This “literary turn” in moral philosophy finds that some sensitivities or aspects of moral reflection are deepened by literary works. The main literary work focusing on animals that has attracted substantial interest from philosophers is J. M. Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello. Philosophers such as Stanley Cavell, Cora Diamond, Stephen Mulhall, and Peter Singer have all found it a repository of moral insight. This article suggests that moral philosophers are only beginning to mine rich literary descriptions of animals to gain moral insight and to explore the ways in which the invocation of animals awakens morally relevant dimensions in literary works.

Keywords: moral reflection; Anglo-American moral philosophers; J. M. Coetzee; Elizabeth Costello; moral insight

Article.  11860 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science

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