Literary Works and Animal Ethics

Tzachi Zamir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This article notes that a number of Anglo-American moral philosophers have turned to literature for insights into moral reflection on animals. This "literary turn" in moral philosophy finds that some sensitivities or aspects of moral reflection are deepened by literary works. The main literary work focusing on animals that has attracted substantial interest from philosophers is J. M. Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello. Philosophers such as Stanley Cavell, Cora Diamond, Stephen Mulhall, and Peter Singer have all found it a repository of moral insight. This article suggests that moral philosophers are only beginning to mine rich literary descriptions of animals to gain moral insight and to explore the ways in which the invocation of animals awakens morally relevant dimensions in literary works.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics
EditorsTom L. Beauchamp , R.G. Frey
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199940134
ISBN (Print)9780195371963
StatePublished - 1 May 2012

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press, 2014.


  • Anglo-american moral philosophers
  • Elizabeth Costello
  • J. M. Coetzee
  • Moral insight
  • Moral reflection


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