Questions about the cognitive and conative life, as well as the status and treatment of other-than-human animals have been receiving systematic consideration by philosophers for close to 50 years. Courses on comparative psychology, animal ethics and animal rights have been introduced in the undergraduate and postgraduate curricula of a substantial number of universities worldwide. It is all the more puzzling, then, that fairly little has been produced on the subject within philosophy of education, apart from the odd reference to humane education. By contrast, environmental education has received wide coverage, not only by philosophers but also by other social scientists, natural scientists and politicians.
The present chapter attempts, at least in part, to fill this gap. It reviews empirical evidence (psychological, medical and statistical) for the purported links between animal abuse and human violence.
The chapter’s chief normative focus is both on the moral implications of a psychophysical continuum between humans and non-humans and on the promise of theriocentric (as opposed to anthropocentric) education. Does anti-racist and antisexist education logically entail anti-speciesist education? Similarly, is there a necessary link between human rights education and animal rights education?
In attempting to answer these questions, the chapter presents an account of moral education as both education in matters of social justice and education in ‘moral feeling’, cultivation of (appropriate) moral sentiments. Given most children’s natural interest in, and feeling for, animals, this should arguably be easier than is commonly assumed.
However, it does require some effort and commitment on the part of educators, parents and teachers alike.
KeywordsAnimal abuse Animal psychology Animal rights Anthropocentrism Empathy Human violence Moral education Speciesism
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