I’m working on a writing question and need an explanation to help me study.
solve the parts on the documents and in the second part chose 1 of the following questions to answer. Look at the questions carefully
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Hist/Evrn 336 , or an Early Christmas Present
“Don’t Hesitate, Dominate”
Part I – Identification (15 pts. Each, 45 pts. total, 100-200 words each).
You must identify the term (who, what, when, etc.) and why the term is significant to the broader
themes of environmental ethics we have been discussing. Choose 3 of the terms below, and write a
long paragraph for each term.
slow violence/environmentalism of the
Part II – Essay (105 pts, approx. 500-750 words or more. Choose **ONE** of the following
questions to write on.
1. Compare and contrast the perspectives of THREE OUT OF THE FOLLOWING FIVE
thinkers on the differences between humans and nonhuman animals and on the significance of
that difference for humanity’s ethical treatment of those animals: Elizabeth Costello, Norma,
O’Hearne, Peter Singer, Michael Pollan, Barbara Smuts, Wendy Doniger, and Marjorie Garber.
How are the authors you have chosen similar and how are they different? Which author’s
perspective do you find most convincing and why? How does this author’s perspective reflect
some of the ethical concepts we have learned about this semester?
2. Based on the readings you have done in the second half of the semester, would you argue that
humanity needs to be more biocentric or more anthropocentric as it faces an uncertain future?
How ought humanity to behave toward the human and nonhuman worlds going forward?
Choose THREE OF THE FOLLOWING AUTHORS and explain why their particular
viewpoints on ethics are worth following: Peter Singer, Michael Pollan, Alice Walker, Cesar
Chavez, Robert D. Bullard, N. Scott Momaday, Bill McKibben, David Keith, Paul
Crutzen/Christian Schwägerl, Will Steffan/J.R. McNeill/Paul Crutzen. As part of your answer,
you should explain why you chose the ethical system (biocentrism or anthropocentrism) that you
did and how you think it can lead to a better future.
3. We have talked a lot about the idea of environmental justice in the second half of this semester.
You have read several readings about environmental justice in America, including those by Alice
Walker, Cesar Chavez, Robert D. Bullard, N. Scott Momaday. You have also read texts about
centering on the concepts of slow violence and the environmentalism of the poor by Rob
Nixon, Wangari Maathai, and all of the authors who wrote about ecofeminism and fast fashion.
Pick TWO AUTHORS FROM THE FIRST GROUP AND ONE AUTHOR FROM
THE SECOND GROUP and answer the following questions: What are some of the major
ethical ideas and principles guiding environmental justice in America? What are some of the
major ethical ideas and principles guiding the environmentalism of the poor/environmental
justice in countries that are wracked by issues of slow violence? After answering both of these
questions, would you say that environmental justice in America is more similar to or different
from environmental justice in other parts of the world, and why?
Extra Credit (2pts).
1. What was your favorite reading from this semester? Why?
2. What was your least favorite reading from this semester? Why?
Thank you all for an enjoyable semester! Enjoy your well-deserved break! I will try and do a better job
the next time I teach this course!
Libertarian vs. egalitarian.
Who is an expert?
Is the weather worse?
Are people too rational?
What are the stakes of
Us. Vs. Them. “If you are
one of us, believe this;
otherwise we’ll know
you’re one of them.”
Dan Kahan, Nature (2012)
Dan Kahan, Cultural Cognition Project
“Belief” does not reflect
knowledge, but rather
No correlation between
numeracy and belief.
Most knowledgeable are
the most polarized.
Dan Kahan, et. al. Nature Climate Change, 2012
In liberal societies, it is
mostly easy to converge
on scientific facts.
Toxic partisan meanings
associated with climate
Political actors (on both
sides – not really a false
Dan Kahan, Cultural Cognition Project, Yale University
Southeast Florida Regional
Climate Action Plan
Monroe County Board of
Commissioners – 4 democrats,
Monroe County, Broward
County, Miami-Dade County,
Palm Beach County.
Facilitating science informed
public deliberations and
provide a model for what
evidence based scientific
communication looks like.
Start with the concrete and go
Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact
T H E L I V ES OF A N I M A LS
T H E U N I V E R S I T Y C E N T E R F OR
H UM A N VA LU E S S E R I E S
A M Y G U T M A N N , E D I T OR
Multiculturalism and “The Politics of Recognition”
by Charles Taylor
A Matter of Interpretation: Federal Courts and the Law
by Antonin Scalia
Freedom of Association
edited by Amy Gutmann
Work and Welfare
by Robert M. Solow
The Lives of Animals
by J. M. Coetzee
The Lives of Animals
J. M . COE T ZEE
MA R JOR I E GA R BER
PE T ER S I NGER
W EN DY DON IG E R
BA R BA R A SMU TS
E DI T E D A N D I N T RODUC E D BY
A MY GU TMA N N
P R I NC E T ON U N I V E RSI T Y P R E S S
P R I NC E T ON , N E W J E RS E Y
Copyright 1999 by Princeton University Press
Published by Princeton University Press, 41 William Street,
Princeton, New Jersey 08540
In the United Kingdom: Princeton University Press,
Chichester, West Sussex
All Rights Reserved
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The lives of animals / J.M. Coetzee … [et al.] ; edited
and introduced by Amy Gutmann.
p. cm. — (University Center for Human Values series)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-691-00443-9 (cl : alk. paper)
1. Animal rights—Philosophy. 2. Animal welfare—Moral
and ethical aspects. I. Coetzee, J. M., 1940– .
II. Gutmann, Amy. III. Series.
This book has been composed in Janson
The paper used in this publication meets the
minimum requirements of
ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992 (R1997)
(Permanence of Paper)
Printed in the United States of America
1 3 5
7 9 10 8
6 4 2
C ON T E N T S
I N T RODUC T ION
T H E L I V E S OF A N I M A L S
J. M. Coetzee
The Philosophers and the Animals
The Poets and the Animals
R E F L EC T ION S
CON T RIBU TORS
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T H E L I V ES OF A N I M A LS
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I N T RO D U C T I O N
ERIOUSNESS is, for a certain kind of artist, an imperative uniting the aesthetic and the ethical,” John Coetzee wrote in Giving
Offense: Essays on Censorship. In The Lives of Animals, the 1997–98
Tanner Lectures at Princeton University, John Coetzee displays
the kind of seriousness that can unite aesthetics and ethics. Like
the typical Tanner Lectures, Coetzee’s lectures focus on an important ethical issue—the way human beings treat animals—but
the form of Coetzee’s lectures is far from the typical Tanner Lectures, which are generally philosophical essays. Coetzee’s lectures
are ﬁctional in form: two lectures within two lectures, which contain a critique of a more typical philosophical approach to the
topic of animal rights. Coetzee prompts us to imagine an academic occasion (disconcertingly like the Tanner Lectures) in
which the character Elizabeth Costello, also a novelist, is invited
by her hosts at Appleton College to deliver two honoriﬁc lectures
on a topic of her choice. Costello surprises her hosts by not delivering lectures on literature or literary criticism, her most apparent areas of academic expertise. Rather she takes the opportunity
to discuss in detail what she views as a “crime of stupefying proportions” that her academic colleagues and fellow human beings
routinely and complacently commit: the abuse of animals.
Coetzee dramatizes the increasingly difﬁcult relationships between the aging novelist Elizabeth Costello and her family and
professional colleagues. She progressively views her fellow
I N T RODUC T ION
human beings as criminals, while they think that she is demanding something of them—a radical change in the way they treat
animals—that she has no right to demand, and that they have no
obligation or desire to deliver. In the frame of ﬁction, Coetzee’s
story of Elizabeth Costello’s visit to Appleton College contains
empirical and philosophical arguments that are relevant to the
ethical issue of how human beings should treat animals. Unlike
some animals, human beings do not need to eat meat. We
could—if only we tried—treat animals with due sympathy for
their “sensation of being.” In the ﬁrst of her lectures (the main
part of Coetzee’s ﬁrst lecture), Costello concludes that there is no
excuse for the lack of sympathy that human beings display toward
other animals, because “there is no limit to the extent to which we
can think ourselves into the being of another. There are no
bounds to the sympathetic imagination.” Yet most human beings
do not stretch the bounds of our imaginations with regard to animals, because we “can do anything [with regard to animals] and
get away with it.”
We have closed our hearts to animals, Costello concludes, and
our minds follow our hearts (or, more strictly speaking, our sympathies). Philosophy, she argues, is relatively powerless to lead, or
in any event to lead in the right direction, because it lags our
sympathies. This places the burden on something other than
our rational faculties, to which philosophy typically appeals. Our
sympathetic imaginations, she argues—to which poetry and ﬁction appeal more than does philosophy—should extend to other
animals. The ﬁctional form, in Coetzee’s hands, therefore appears to have an ethical purpose: extending our sympathies to
animals. If ﬁction does not so extend our sympathies, then neither
will philosophy. If it does, then perhaps philosophy will follow.
Costello’s lectures within Coetzee’s lectures therefore ask their
audience to “open your heart and listen to what your heart says.”
Do animals have rights? Do human beings have duties toward
them regardless of whether they have rights? What kind of souls
do animals have? What kind do we have? Costello does not answer these questions in her lectures, because they are too philo4
A M Y GU T M A N N
sophical for the immediate task at hand. They presume that the
mind can lead the heart, a presumption that Elizabeth Costello’s
experience has led her to reject after a long life of trying to convince other people of her perspective on animals. In any case, as
Costello tells her audience at Appleton, “if you had wanted someone to come here and discriminate for you between mortal and
immortal souls, or between rights and duties, you would have
called in a philosopher, not a person whose sole claim to your
attention is to have written stories about made-up people.”
Coetzee stirs our imaginations by confronting us with an articulate, intelligent, aging, and increasingly alienated novelist who
cannot help but be exasperated with her fellow human beings,
many of them academics, who are unnecessarily cruel to animals
and apparently (but not admittedly) committed to cruelty. The
story urges us to reconceive our devotion to reason as a universal
value. Is the universe built upon reason? Is God a God of reason?
If so, then “man is godlike, animals thinglike.” But Elizabeth
Costello vehemently dissents from this anthropocentric perspective: “reason is neither the being of the universe nor the being of
God. On the contrary, reason looks to me suspiciously like the
being of human thought; worse than that, like the being of one
tendency in human thought.”
Does Costello protest too much? Although she argues that
philosophy is totally bankrupt in its ability to make our attitudes
toward animals ethical, Costello also self-consciously employs
philosophy in her lectures, often to demonstrate the weakness
of those philosophical arguments that consider the lives of nonreasoning beings less valuable by virtue of their being less reasoning. “What is so special about the form of consciousness we recognize that makes killing a bearer of it a crime,” she asks, “while
killing an animal goes unpunished?” Unlike philosophers, poets
begin “with a feel for” an animal’s experience. That leads them to
recognize the crime of killing any animal that can experience the
sensation of being alive to the world. Costello urges us to recognize the accessibility of such sympathy for the fullness of animal
being. “If we are capable of thinking our own death,” she asks,
I N T RODUC T ION
“why on earth should we not be capable of thinking our way into
the life of a bat?”
What, then, is the motivation for thinking our way into the
lives of animals, if not morality? By her own account, however,
Costello is motivated not by moral conviction but rather by “a
desire to save my soul.” She is not so presumptuous as to think
that she has succeeded in saving her soul, although she does treat
her critics as if they had lost sight of their souls. She refuses to
accept the compliments of the president of Appleton College,
who (in an apparent attempt to defuse the mounting tension) says
that he admires her way of life. In response, Costello points out
that she wears leather shoes and carries a leather purse. “Surely
one can draw a distinction between eating meat and wearing
leather,” the president offers in her defense. “Degrees of obscenity,” is Costello’s uncompromising reply. The president has succeeded only in increasing the tension. Costello refuses to take
admiration for an answer. Her sensibilities and actions may be
superior to those of her fellow human beings, but they remain
nonetheless a source of internal agony.
Costello is self-aware. She anticipates her most antagonistic
critic by saying that she knows “how talk of this kind polarizes
people, and cheap point-scoring only makes it worse.” The kind
of talk to which she refers is an analogy, which she draws again
and again, between the way her fellow human beings treat animals and way the Third Reich treated Jews. “By treating fellow
human beings, beings created in the image of God, like beasts,”
she says of the Nazis, “they had themselves become beasts.” She
continues: “we are surrounded by an enterprise of degradation,
cruelty, and killing which rivals anything that the Third Reich
was capable of. . . .”
The comparison with the Holocaust cannot go unchallenged.
In fact, the challenge to Costello is delivered not by a philosopher but by Costello’s academic equal, an aging poet, Abraham
Stern. Stern refuses to attend dinner with Costello not out of
disrespect but because he is deeply affronted by her ﬁrst lecture.
A M Y GU T M A N N
Stern delivers a letter telling Costello why he cannot break bread
You took over for your own purposes the familiar comparison between the murdered Jews of Europe and slaughtered cattle. The
Jews died like cattle, therefore cattle die like Jews, you say. That is
a trick with words which I will not accept. You misunderstand the
nature of likenesses; I would even say you misunderstand willfully,
to the point of blasphemy. Man is made in the likeness of God but
God does not have the likeness of man. If Jews were treated like
cattle, it does not follow that cattle are treated like Jews. The inversion insults the memory of the dead. It also trades on the horrors of the camps in a cheap way.
Just as Stern is too offended by Costello’s moral sensibilities to
address her in person, so too Costello does not answer Stern’s
critique. Each is offended by the other’s sensibilities, and they
have little willingness or ability or time in their lives left to bridge
the ethical and aesthetic divide between them.
The Lives of Animals drives home how difﬁcult it can be for
morally serious people to sympathize with, or even understand,
each other’s perspectives. The distance between the two aging
writers in the story, Costello and Stern, does not narrow as a
consequence of their taking each other seriously. Quite the contrary, at the end of her visit to Appleton (and the end of the story),
Costello invokes the Holocaust analogy yet again. Speaking to
her son about how radically disoriented she feels in this world,
she imagines going into the bathroom of friends and seeing a
soap-wrapper that says, “Treblinka—100% human stearate.”
Imagine feeling this way about our fellow human beings who eat
animals, yet also seeing human kindness in the very same people’s
eyes. “This is life. Everyone else comes to terms with it,” Costello
reminds herself, “why can’t you? Why can’t you?”
Should Elizabeth Costello have come to terms with the way
her family and friends treat animals, or should she have converted
them—should she convert those of us who do not begin where
I N T RODUC T ION
she begins—to her position? Coetzee does not answer these questions for us. The story leaves us with a vivid sense of conﬂict
among morally serious people over the mistreatment of animals
and the apparently correlative conﬂict over analogizing that
treatment to the most heinous crimes committed among human
beings themselves. Central among the questions Coetzee leaves
us with is whether there is any way—whether philosophical, poetic, or psychological—of resolving these ethical conﬂicts or reconciling these competing sensibilities.
Four prominent commentators—the literary theorist Marjorie
Garber, the philosopher Peter Singer, the religious scholar
Wendy Doniger, and the primatologist Barbara Smuts—discuss
the form and content of Coetzee’s lectures. Like previous volumes in the University Center for Human Values Series, The
Lives of Animals draws upon the insights of diverse disciplinary
perspectives that too rarely engage with one another. Garber,
Singer, Doniger, and Smuts do not share a single academic discipline, nor are they even members of neighboring disciplines,
but their commentaries together help constitute a more complete
understanding of how human beings can and should relate to
At the same time as she compares The Lives of Animals to the
academic novel, Marjorie Garber highlights its distinctiveness. It
is “suffused with pathos” rather than the comedy that is typical of
the academic novel. Its analogies pose “some of the most urgent
ethical and political questions” of our times. Garber questions the
way in which serious analogy—as between “the murdered Jews
of Europe and slaughtered cattle”—functions in ﬁction and literary criticism. She notes that although the appropriateness of the
Holocaust analogy is hotly debated, it is regularly used, both
obliquely and not so obliquely, as in the popular (and relatively
uncontroversial) children’s ﬁlm Babe. Garber explores the disadvantages as well as advantages of the ubiquitous use of analogical arguments like these in literature. Fiction far more than philosophy has the “art of language” to offer, and that art is put to
A M Y GU T M A N N
expert use by Coetzee in his effort to provoke us to pursue an
ethical issue that would not otherwise capture some people’s attention or imagination. The Lives of Animals is therefore, as Garber suggests, as much about the value of literature as it is about
the lives of animals.
In a commentary that is written in the form of a ﬁctional dialogue between an animal rights philosopher and his daughter,
Peter Singer, the most eminent philosophical defender of animal
rights, imagines himself in the unusual position of confro …
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