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Ethical Perspectives on Animals 1400-1650

Convenors: Prof. Dr. Burkhard Dohm (Universität Marburg), Dr. Cecilia Muratori (LMU München)

06.10.2011 – 07.10.2011

The aim of the conference is to investigate ways in which ethical concern for animals was expressed in philosophical, religious, medical and literary writings during the Renaissance. Through an interdisciplinary approach, the conference focuses attention on a neglected topic, showing that questions about the ethical treatment of animals played an important role in the Renaissance debate on the place of man in nature. Even before Descartes’ theory of animal automatism sparked the well known controversy on animals’ capacity for suffering, Renaissance philosophers, religious thinkers and scientists had in many cases already put animal suffering "on the agenda" - as contemporary advocates of animal rights would say. Is the fact that animals suffer a reason to choose a vegetable diet? But if vegetarianism necessarily subverts the Christian idea of a hierarchy of beings - as Augustine had already argued - what place did it occupy in Renaissance religious thought? While Aristotle’s description of the world and his psychology are challenged, the distinction between plants, animals and human beings also assumes new shapes. But what remains of the difference between man and animal, if we understand nature as a continuum in which gradual diversification occurs? And what would be the ethical consequences for man’s relationship to animals?

Speakers are: Amber Carpenter (York), Cecilia Muratori (Munich), Fabio Pagani (Pisa), Nicola Panichi (Urbino), Franco Bacchelli (Bologna), Guido Giglioni (London), Gabriella Zuccolin (Pavia), Urte Helduser (Marburg), Rhodri Lewis (Oxford), James Vigus (Munich), Burkhard Dohm (Marburg), Kathrin Schlierkamp (Munich), Matthias Roick (Göttingen), Gianni Paganini (Vercelli).


Location: CAS
Registration required. If you are interested in participating please register by Friday 30 September with: Send an email to Email.