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Animal Minds and Human Morals: The Origins of the Western Debate (Cornell Studies in Classical Philology) [Hardcover]

Richard Sorabji
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

9 Dec 1993 Cornell Studies in Classical Philology
"Animals can't construct sentences. Therefore we can eat them." That was the view the Stoics eventually settled for, though they began with Aristotle's much broader claim that animals lack reason. In this book, the author argues that the Western tradition has been rather complacent. St Augustine incorporated the Stoic view into Christianity, but in doing so he took up only half the ancient debate, for there were many philosophers who defended animals. The controversy affected the whole of the philosophy of mind, because if animals are denied reason and belief, we have to redefine not only reason and belief, but perception, emotion, intention, moral responsibility, memory, speech and the power to conceptualize. Sorabji argues that a broader view of ethics is needed than is found either in the ancient opponents of animals, or in their modern defenders.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 267 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press (9 Dec 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080142948X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801429484
  • Product Dimensions: 27.2 x 18 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a primary source for the debate on animals and humans, excellent references and well-argued discussion which provides a basis for further discussions and debates on our relationship with non-human animals and ultimately the whole of our ecological future! Well researched, written and very readable. Ken Evans-Author of Cat in the Quad.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating relfections on animal cognition 5 Jun 2000
By Andrew N. Carpenter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Can animal behavior be explained without attributing to them reason or belief? In the first part of this book, Sorabji investigates this question. Since animal behavior is explained by appeal to notions like perception, memory, intention, learning, and emotion, the "no reason or belief" thesis is plausible only if those concepts can be explained without recourse to either reason or belief. Sorabji investigates this with close reference to Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and many other philosophers of antiquity.
In the second part of the book, Sorabji examines the significance of the animal minds debate. He argues that Aristotle's denial of reason and belief to animals has a long and sad legacy that deeply affects humans' relations to animals in Western Culture. Sorabji concludes that a proper account of human minds would motivate new moral judgments.
Sorabji's mastery of the classical literature is truly impressive, and he forges many interesting connections to Donald Davidson's famous denial of animal thought and to many other contemporary debates in the philosophy of mind.
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