- Elgar original reference
Edited by Michael R. Redclift and Graham Woodgate
Editorial commentary Graham Woodgate Many of the concepts and theories discussed in the contributions to Part I of this book reappear in the eight chapters that comprise Part II, framing discussions of the substantive issues with which this part of the book is concerned. Clearly, it would not have been possible to invite contributions dealing with the full range of issues that attracts the attention of environmental sociologists at the beginning of the twenty-first century, but we hope that what follows gives a flavour of some of the most significant. We begin with Ted Benton’s ‘Animals and us’ (Chapter 13), which deals with the philosophical issue of the relationship between human beings and animals. He begins by noting the longstanding dominance in Western societies of a dualistic view, which associates human beings with characteristics such as ‘rationality, language, moral autonomy, creativity, love of beauty’ etc., in contrast to all other animals, which are considered to lack them and also to embody unwanted human characteristics such as brutality. There are, however, as Benton points out, alternative views based on the experiences of those who, in the course of their lives, have formed close relationships with animals and taken on a duty of care for their well-being. Such experiences and sentiments have been one of the motivational sources for militant campaigning activity against various sorts of perceived abuse of animals and, more recently, armed with more sophisticated philosophical arguments, powerful critiques of our ‘whole form of social existence as grounded in violent...
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