The Ethics of Animal Beauty provides a novel account of the aesthetics of animals and explores the ethical implications of recognizing and admiring their beauty. Samantha Vice argues that animation, the aesthetic property of being an individual with a subjective perspective on the world, is fundamental to any meaningful appreciation of animal beauty. If we properly appreciate animation, we are called on to respond to animals with respect, care, gratitude and wonder. Applying this idea to contemporary practices such as trophy hunting and taxidermy and to our lived relationships with (domestic) companion animals, Vice argues that the appreciation of animal beauty carries profound ethical consequences for our relations to our fellow creatures. This perspective bears on questions of animal rights and ecocritical debates, while also contributing to key discussions in aesthetics and its relation to moral imperatives.
Samantha Vice is distinguished professor of philosophy at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Chapter 1: The Elements of Beauty
Chapter 2: Accounts of Animal Beauty
Chapter 3: Animation, Disinterest, and Ethics
Chapter 4: Respect for Animals
Chapter 5: Virtuous Attitudes towards Animals
Chapter 6: Aesthetics and Ethical Coherence
For all too long animal beauty has been taken for granted and thought unworthy of serious philosophical enquiry. Samantha Vice’s wonderful book shows that this attitude has it all wrong. Animal beauty is the animated and animating heart of the natural world. Drawing on an array of philosophical, literary and cultural sources, Vice shows that appreciating animal beauty both facilitates and ethically requires the cultivation of the most profound aesthetic attention and ethical respect. After reading this book you might still ask: can they reason? can they speak? And certainly: can they suffer? But never again will you be able to avoid asking, first and foremost: would life be tolerable without their animated beauty?