The Concept of Death and the Ethics of Killing Animals
Susana Monsó (University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna)

November 16, 2020, 12:00am - 2:00am

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University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Texas State University

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The Society for the Study of Ethics and Animals (SSEA) is hosting a virtual colloquium series for the Fall 2020 semester. The third and final talk in the series is on November 16th, by Dr. Susana Monso. Her talk is titled "The Concept of Death and the Ethics of Killing Animals." Sign up here if you'd like to attend; we'll e-mail the meeting link to registered attendees on Nov. 15th.

The talk will take place at 11:00 AM, Central Time (USA)

Abstract: 

In discussions about the ethics of killing animals, some form of the following argument is commonly encountered:

P1. Death, in itself, can harm only those beings who possess a concept of death.

P2. Nonhuman animals lack a concept of death.

C. Death, in itself, cannot harm nonhuman animals.

Philosophers who make use of this argument ground Premise 1 in various ways. At the same time, philosophers who are not convinced by this argument have focused on arguing that Premise 1 is false. In contrast, philosophers on both sides of the debate agree on Premise 2, even though no empirical justification has traditionally been offered for it. I will argue that it is a mistake to treat Premise 2 as an unquestionable assumption. I give an account of what it means to understand death that will show that, contrary to what philosophers often assume, death is not an all-or-nothing matter and many animals can likely acquire some form of the concept of death. My account of the concept of death also reveals a more nuanced view of its interconnectedness with the harms of death. I will conclude my talk by sketching some possible implications for our end-of-life management practices with animals.

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November 15, 2020, 9:00am PST

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