Most of us like animals. We share our lives with dogs and cats, enjoy watching wildlife, and frequent zoos and aquariums. At the same time, most of us also like to eat meat and watch animals run races or perform tricks.
Our relationship to animals raises profound ethical questions: Is “liking” animals enough? Do animals benefit at all when we domesticate them? Is having a pet a sufficient sign of animal friendly behavior? Should we condone the use of animals for entertainment? Some religious traditions go so far as to endorse vegetarianism. Can we be moral and remain carnivorous? How do our religious beliefs affect our relationship to animals? Does the call to stewardship allow animal husbandry and meat consumption? Does a religious morality have to take into account the welfare of animals?
Most of all, animals remind us that our beliefs and morals are anthropocentric. Does a religious attitude liberate us from anthropocentricism? Should it?
Our courses explore the beliefs and morals that define our relationship to animals. And they test our notion of what it means to be human.