Critical Anthropomorphism and Animal Ethics

  • Karlsson F
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Abstract

Anthropomorphism has long been considered a cardinal error when describing animals. Ethicists have feared the consequences of misrepresenting animals in their reasoning. Recent research within human-animal studies, however, has sophisticated the notion of anthropomorphism. It is suggested that avoiding anthropomorphism merely creates other morphisms, such as mechanomorphism. Instead of avoiding anthropomorphism, it is argued that it is a communicative strategy that should be used critically. Instances of anthropomorphism in animal ethics are analyzed in this paper. Some analogies made between people and non-human animals in present theories of animal ethics are clear instances of psychological anthropomorphism. Other analogies are implicit cases of cultural anthropomorphism. It is argued that animal ethics needs to take the wider discourse of critical anthropomorphism into account in order to sophisticate the understanding and use of anthropomorphic projections. Anthropomorphism is an efficient tool of communication, and it may be made an adequate one as well.[PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

Author-supplied keywords

  • Analogy
  • Anthropomorphism
  • Human-animal studies
  • Nussbaum
  • Regan
  • Singer

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Authors

  • Fredrik Karlsson

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