Living with Animals brings a pragmatist ecofeminist perspective to discussions around animal rights, animal welfare, and animal ethics to move the conversation beyond simple use or non-use decisions. Erin McKenna uses a case study approach with select species to question how humans should live and interact with various animal beings through specific instances of such relationships. Addressing standard topics such as the use of animals for food, use for biomedical research, use in entertainment, use as companions, use as captive specimens in zoos, and use in hunting and ecotourism through a revolutionary pluralist and experimental approach, McKenna provides an uncommonly nuanced accounts for complex relationships and changing circumstances. Rather than seek absolute moral stands regarding human relationships with other animal beings, and rather than trying to end such relationships altogether, the books urges us to make existing relations better.
Erin McKenna is professor of philosophy at the University of Oregon. She is author of Livestock: Food, Fiber, and Friends;American Philosophy: From Wounded Knee to the Present, co-authored with Scott L. Pratt; The Task of Utopia: A Pragmatist and Feminist Perspective; and co-editor with Andrew Light of Animal Pragmatism.
Living with Animals provides an important jumping-off point to anyone interested in the pragmatic reconstruction of society toward more democratic and life-giving ends.
So many people continue to turn away from the ethical issues raised from our violent relationships towards animals. Using literature, pragmatist philosophy, indigenous theories, as well as ecofeminist theory, Erin McKenna directly and carefully addresses these issues. She draws on a robust, salient, and underappreciated feminist tradition and demonstrates its importance.
With a probing mix of philosophy, anthropology, ethology, and history, McKenna draws strongly on women thought-leaders to argue for a simple idea that, so far, has eluded humanity: we have moral obligations to animals.
As environmental devastation and climate catastrophes loom, it is imperative to develop new tools for navigating our complex ethical relationships with other animals and the planet we all call home. Erin McKenna brings together pragmatist insights and ecofeminism, as well as indigenous thought, to help work through the messiness of our entangled, and increasingly imperiled, lives.
Thinking with Animals will be of interest to environmental ethicists who aim to gain a deeper understanding of the theoretical and practical contours endemic to ecopragmatic world-views in applied contexts. Additionally, it is a solid, if broad, overview of the pluralistic environmental literature. Ultimately, the book’s strengths lie in McKenna’s keen ability to highlight, illustrate and interweave a holistic tapestry: between kindred, philosophical theories, literature and actual-world scenarios. Her ability to investigate clearly the injustices that permeate contemporary (often industrial) human relationships with the more-than-human, animal world is, finally, balanced by a set of optimistic (and practical) proposals, which centre context sensitive and localized solutions to global, environmental problems.