Department of Social Sciences
Animal Rights: Science, Sentience and Speciesism
Semester two, 2012/13
Time of lecture: Monday (9:30am to 11:20am)
Instructor: Dr. Francis MOK (莫家棟)
I. Course descriptions:
In this course, we aim at providing students the conceptual tools and resources by which they can investigate and reflect on the relationship between human beings and other non-human animals. In particular, students are invited to evaluate the ways by which animals are treated in today’s world and to assess if there are any personal and cultural biases in so doing. Equipped with the facts, concepts, and theories learnt in the course, students will be able to make ethically informed choices regarding the food they eat, the clothing they wear, and the attitude they adopt in dealing with non-human entities in general.
In the process of reflection and evaluation, students will need to address the following set of questions: i. Do animals have any interests?
ii. Do they matter morally and on what ground? How should we describe their moral status? iii. Are they intellectually inferior and thereby morally inferior? iv. Are there any rights of animal? Even if animals are not right-holders, do we have any moral obligations to them? v. What are the policy implications of recognizing the moral status of animals? How should they be treated? What is forbidden? What is permissible?
II. Course Intended Learning Outcomes:
Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:
• CILO 1:
Demonstrate an understanding of key facts, ideas, concepts, and distinctions in the discussions over the moral status of animals; • CILO 2:
Demonstrate an understanding of the major ethical theories or moral considerations essential for the critical examination of our obligations, if any, in dealing with animals; • CILO 3:
Demonstrate the ability to make use of the relevant ideas and theories in evaluating public policies, consumption patterns, and personal habits that have close bearing to animal welfare; • CILO 4:
Demonstrate a global awareness as well as sensitivity to cultural bias in dealing with issues in relation to non-human entities.
III. Class schedule:
|Session: |Date: |Content: | |1 |7th Jan. 2013 |Introduction: | | | |Differences and similarities between humans and animals | | | |A reading of Feng Zikai’s cartoons (豐子愷漫畫) | |2 |14th Jan. 2013 |Direct and indirect defense of animal welfare: | | | |Distinction between economic, political, and moral reasons; | | | |Distinction between instrumental and intrinsic interests; | | | |The campaign against eating shark fins | |3 |21st Jan. 2013 |Sentience, interests, and moral status of animals: | | | |Peter Singer’s criticism of speciesism | | | |Wrongness of killing vs. wrongness of the ways of killing | | | |The case of the hunting of Tibetan antelopes (藏羚羊) | |4 |28th Jan. 2013 |The case of food production | | | |The moral problems of factory farming; | | | |An evaluation of the strength and...