Symposium Introduction

Panelists

Anne-Marie S. Christensen

Nora Hämäläinen

Avner Baz

Aaron Klink

 

Overview

Alice Crary’s Inside Ethics is a transformative account of moral thought about human beings and animals.

We have come to think of human beings and animals as elements of a morally indifferent reality that reveals itself only to neutral or science-based methods. This little-commented-on trend, which shapes the work of moral philosophers and popular ethical writers alike, has pernicious effects, distorting our understanding of the difficulty of moral thinking. Inside Ethics traces the roots of existing views to tendencies in ethics, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind. Crary underlines the moral urgency of revisiting our approach in ethics so that, instead of assuming we confront a world that itself places no demands on moral imagination, we treat the exercise of moral imagination as necessary for arriving at an adequate world-guided understanding of human beings and animals.

The book’s argument is both rich and practically oriented, integrating ideas from literary authors such as Raymond Carver, J. M. Coetzee, Daniel Keyes, W. G. Sebald, and Leo Tolstoy and bringing them to bear on issues in disability studies and animal studies as well as elsewhere in ethics. The result is a commanding case for a reorientation in ethics that illuminates central challenges of moral thought about human and animal lives, directing attention to important aspects of these lives that are otherwise hidden from view.

Crary’s book is an exciting and original contribution to moral philosophy and to philosophical thinking about a range of issues in philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and philosophy of language. It should be of great interest also to those working in disability studies and animal studies.—Cora Diamond, University of Virginia

This book is a sustained attempt to argue in favor of the claim that human and non-human animals alike are intrinsically ethically significant things, and in particular not beings whose ethical significance is a function of the ethical significance of some given set of attributes or capacities or interests they happen to possess. Anyone working on these topics will be obliged to take account of Crary’s distinctive contribution to current conversations, within and without philosophy, about the moral status of human beings and their fellow creatures.—Stephen Mulhall, University of Oxford

Alice Crary is Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research, a 2017-2018 Member of the School of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), and beginning fall 2018, Professor of Philosophy and Tutorial Fellow in Philosophy and Christian Ethics at the University of Oxford.

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