Department of Philosophy



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Animals in Philosophy, Politics, Law & Ethics

Affiliated Fellows

Omar Bachour is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Philosophy funded by a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Scholarship working on questions of alienation and community. In his doctoral project, he argues that any credible theory of alienation applies equally to nonhuman animals. Hence the community designed to overcome that alienation must necessarily include the latter. His other interests include the history of the Left vis-à-vis 'the animal question'; the relation between systems of animal exploitation and global capitalism; and literary, as well as poetic, representations of animals that prefigure a human-animal community of equals. (

Charlotte Blattner will begin her Postdoctoral Fellowship in Animal Studies at Queen’s University Department of Philosophy in August 2017. During her postdoctoral fellowship, she will examine the concept of animals as workers, and whether labour rights can provide a route towards greater legal protection, not just for companion animals, but also for animals used as commodities in agriculture, research and entertainment industries. Charlotte is currently a senior research fellow at the “Tier im Recht” Foundation in Zurich, Switzerland, and teaches at the Institute for European Studies in Basel, Switzerland. She completed a PhD summa cum laude at the intersection of international law and animal law, focusing on the extraterritorial protection of animals, as part of the doctoral program “Law and Animals: Ethics at Crossroads” at the University of Basel, Switzerland. Dr. Blattner is a former Visiting International Scholar at Lewis & Clark Law School, and has authored numerous publications in animal law, trade law, environmental law, and articles on agricultural and research policies, effective altruism, and cognitive biases in the law. Email:

Frédéric Côté-Boudreau is a Ph.D. student in Philosophy at Queen's University and also recipient of a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship. His interests cover issues at the intersection between political philosophy — especially liberalism — and animal ethics. His thesis is focusing on the concept of autonomy applied to animals. Indeed, with its strong reliance on rational revisability, the traditional conception of autonomy not only excludes animals from the right to shape their lives, but might also lead to perfectionist implications on how one ought to lead one's life in general. In other words, this understanding risks to preclude even humans from the right to make personal choices if those choices are simply based on emotion or instinct without rational endorsement. A more open definition of autonomy, one that allows for a diversity of ways to shape one's life as long as one does not significantly harm oneself, seems needed as much for humans (including children and people with intellectual disabilities to some extent) as for animals. Through this investigation, Frédéric hopes to address questions such as: Do animals have the right to make personal choices, the right to be free, and the right to not be dominated, manipulated, and controlled? If those rights are granted, is it feasible and desirable to build a mixed human-animal community that allows and helps citizen animals to make autonomous choices without being dominated? Furthermore, in what cases is paternalistic intervention acceptable, for animals and humans? Apart from his thesis, Frédéric is exploring questions regarding distributive justice and domesticated animals, as well as the debate between new welfarism (or gradualism) and abolitionism. Frédéric is also active in the Québec animal rights movement and maintains a popular French-language blog at (

Sue Donaldson is an independent author and researcher. She is co-author (with Will Kymlicka) of Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights. Her current writing is focused on expanding and deepening the book’s model of human-animal relations based in conceptions of citizenship, denizenship, and sovereignty. She is also interested in practical applications of this model, especially in relation to the rapidly expanding farmed animal sanctuary movement. Can sanctuaries be forms of ‘intentional community’ creating a space for exploring inter-species justice? Donaldson is also interested in animal rights as a political movement, and on strategies for effective advocacy based in social, political and psychological research that examines barriers to (and opportunities for) social change. (

Alice Hovorka is Professor in Geography and Environmental Studies at Queen’s University. Her research broadly explores human-environment relationships and is theoretically informed by feminist, poststructuralist and posthumanist philosophical perspectives. Her work on the Lives of Animals in Botswana, funded by a SSHRC Insight Grant (2012-2016), explores how animals, as central actors, are embedded discursively and materially in the fabric of human lives, landscapes and development trajectories in Botswana in order to further understanding of human-animal relations in Africa. The work is grounded in the sub-discipline of Animal Geography, which focuses on the complex encounters between humans and animals within broader politico-economic, socio-cultural, spatial and environmental contexts. At the same time, the work reaches across disciplinary boundaries, bridging social with natural sciences to ensure comprehensive and insightful research results that are meaningful for both human and non-human animals. Her team works with government and non-governmental entities, as well as local communities in Botswana so that research results contribute to the development and operationalization of appropriate program and policy interventions.  Case studies include chickens, cattle, donkeys, wild dogs, elephants, and community dogs in Botswana, and feral cats in Canada ( (

Samantha King is Professor of Kinesiology and Health Studies and Head of Gender Studies at Queen’s University. Broadly speaking, her research focuses on the embodied dimensions of consumer culture; her specific interests range from the racial politics of basketball to the philanthropic breast cancer movement. Her curiosity about animal studies was prompted by a growing number of graduate supervisees with an interest in extending theories of “the body” beyond the human. Noticing that conversations with these students frequently returned to the subject of food, together they began crafting a collaborative project on eating animals.  Alongside Dr. Elaine Power, a Food Studies scholar, and graduate students Scott Carey, Isabel Macquarrie, and Victoria Millious, she is interviewing animal studies scholars about the relationship between their theoretical work and their personal food practices. The goal of this research is to develop new insights about how complex ideas are lived and to explore how the daily, intimate, and visceral practice of eating may enable or constrain thinking and writing about human-animal relationships. A related project seeks to construct a political ecology of protein powder by tracing the “contentious synthesis” (Sarmiento, 2013) of animal and human bodies in the production of a food commodity that was developed, primarily, as a vehicle for managing agricultural waste.

Will Kymlicka is Canada Research Chair in Political Philosophy at Queen’s. His current research focuses on “The Frontiers of Citizneship”, and in particular on struggles to extend norms and practices of citizenship to historically excluded groups, ranging from children and people with intellectual disabilities to indigenous peoples and animals. All of these cases challenge inherited ideas of what defines the attributes of a (good) citizen, and in much of the popular debate and academic literature, attempts to extend citizenship to these groups is often seen as somehow diluting the fundamental values of citizenship. His work disputes this view, and seeks to show how these struggles for inclusion deepen citizenship in Canada and elsewhere. His paper on “Animals and The Frontiers of Citizenship” (co-authored with Sue Donaldson) was presented as the 2013 HLA Hart Memorial Lecture at Oxford University, and has been published in the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies. (

Josh Milburn currently holds the Postdoctoral Fellowship in Animal Studies in the Queen’s University Department of Philosophy. He is researching the ethics and politics of human relationships with nonhuman animals through a consideration of the philosophy of food and eating, with a particular focus on nonhuman animals’ own diets. He is interested in the normative questions which are raised, for instance, by the feeding of companions and garden birds, especially in contrast to the completely different questions which are raised by the consumption practices of those nonhuman animals whom humans feed entirely by accident. Before beginning his research at Queen’s, he completed a PhD at Queen’s University Belfast with a thesis entitled The Political Turn in Animal Ethics. His research on animal ethics has been published or is forthcoming in Res Publica, the European Journal of Political Theory, Journal of Social Philosophy, Environmental Values and a number of edited collections.; Website:

Christine Overall is a Professor of Philosophy and holds a University Research Chair at Queen’s. Her primary focus in animal studies is on problems of creating life and causing death. The former include issues in reproductive ethics: questions about the propagation and sterilization of animals, the genetic manipulation of individual animals and species, the potential for the creation of chimeras, and the survival and destruction of species.  The latter include issues in the philosophy of death: questions about whether death is bad for animals, whether premature death is bad for them, and whether animal lives should be prolonged. She presented a paper entitled “How Many Domesticated Animals Should There Be?” at the “Cosmopolitan Animals” conference, held at the University of London in October, 2012. She is currently writing a paper entitled “Death, Longevity, and Companion Animals” for an upcoming conference on death and dying. She is also editing an anthology, originally inspired by Dr. Jean Harvey, on ethics and companion animals. (

Angie Pepper was the 2015-16 Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Animal Studies at Queen’s University. Angie completed her PhD in June 2013 at the University of Sheffield on feminist approaches to global justice and the need for a gender-sensitive cosmopolitanism. Her work on global justice prompted Angie to think about the problematic anthropocentrism that frames the mainstream discourse on what we owe one another globally, and what we are entitled to do with the Earth’s resources. Since humans are not the only animals capable of suffering as a result of human action or inaction, and since other animals also have a basic interest in securing the resources necessary for survival, questions of justice cannot be limited to interhuman relations. Consequently, Angie’s current research is shaped by her commitment to the thought that the lives and interests of all sentient animals must be taken as central to our thinking about global justice. She is especially interested in exploring how the inclusion of non-human animals within mainstream accounts of global justice reveals tensions and inadequacies within those positions, and in thinking about what global justice demands for all animals living on Earth. Moreover, Angie is looking at how the interests of non-human animals might be incorporated within models of cosmopolitan democracy and how they can be best represented at the global level in the absence of transnational democratic institutions and practices. (

Mick Smith is jointly appointed between the School of Environmental Studies and the Department of Philosophy at Queen’s. His current work (funded by a SSHRC Insight grant on ‘Ethics, Politics, and Ecological Community’) is focused on developing a radically different understanding of ecological community. This involves re-conceptualizing the gap between scientific understandings of community ecology, which focus on providing external, ‘objective’, descriptions of ‘natural’ processes and relations in particular places, and humanist accounts of what it means to belong to ethical and political communities regarded as culturally constituted only within and between human beings. Ecological and ethical/political theory currently fail to speak to each other in very fundamental ways (epistemologically, methodologically, ontologically) when it comes to trying to understand the diverse relations between beings that might actually create and sustain communities that are both ecologically and ethico-politically constituted even as they are marked by ineradicable differences between individuals, populations, and species. This work further develops and extends  ethical and political themes in his recent Against Ecological Sovereignty (University of Minnesota Press, 2011) and links to his involvement in the Extinction Studies Working Group, the new journal Environmental Humanities and his role as a founding editor of Emotion, Space and Society (including editing a special issue on Emotion and Ecology). He teaches two courses in the Philosophy Department which intersect with some aspects of critical animal studies: PHIL 293 Humans and the Natural World and PHIL493/893 Environmental Philosophy, and supervises graduate students in allied areas. ( )

Nga-Yin Tam is undertaking her doctoral studies at Queen’s Philosophy, for which she was awarded the Sir Edward Youde Memorial Overseas Fellowship by the Hong Kong Government. She holds a LLB from the University of Hong Kong, and a M.Sc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics. Before her academic career, she worked with PETA, SPCA, and Animal Legal Defense Fund and conducted animal legal research and advocacy for the Asia-Pacific region.  Her thesis seeks to develop a non-domination model of animal exploitation. Neo-republicans like Philip Pettit have revived the concept of non-domination to diagnose and remedy injustice in power relationships, but to date this model has been applied only to intra-human relations, and indeed only to relations amongst fully rational, discursive agents. Can republican models of non-domination be applied to diagnose and remedy injustices in cross-species relations? Nga-Yin will explore how pragmatist and feminist theories of epistemology can enrich our understanding of non-domination. Overcoming epistemic injustice against animals is a precondition for achieving political justice, and pragmatist and feminist theorists can help identify the epistemic virtues, norms and institutions which are conducive to a non-dominating communal inquiry and co-flourishing. Nga-Yin will explore how this refined model of non-domination can improve on existing theories of animal ethics, overcoming some of the limitations of rights-based and welfarist approaches. Moreover, a pragmatist-inspired democratic way of life can bridge the gap between theory and practice, by transcending existing categories of animals, such as “food”, “pet”, “laboratory”, and “wild”, and enrich human understanding of the meaning and value of human-animal co-existence. Apart from her thesis, Nga-Yin is interested in all things moral and political, the continuity between East and West, critical and analytic, and theoretical and empirical. She engages in activism and public education (in Kingston and Hong Kong), and exploits the critical potential of philosophy to bring progressive social change.


Past Fellows

Katherine Wayne completed her PhD in September 2013; her dissertation is titled "Toward a Virtue-Centred Ethics of Reproduction" and she was supervised by Christine Overall, Department of Philosophy, Queen's University. She then completed a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship with Will Kymlicka in the area of animal ethics. Specifically, Katherine's work examines the morality of bringing domesticated animals into existence, either with human intervention or through animals’ own volition. Animal rights scholars often assume that domestic animals have inviolable rights and that humans have a duty of care towards them as dependents. Yet it remains a legitimate question as to whether domestic animals can be incorporated into the community in a way that ensures their living good lives. Equally pressing is the question of whether domestic animals introduced into the community will impede the well-being of others. Thus the morality of domestic animal reproduction in a mixed and interdependent community is open to scrutiny. The following questions inform Katherine’s research: What are the conditions of permissibility and desirability of bringing domestic animals into existence? And how does the dependence of animals on humans shape our obligations to them and the nature of their rights, in regard to reproductive behaviours?  She also considers policy-guiding implications that these theoretical conclusions may have in terms of the way Canada manages (some subset of) its domestic animal population. ( )

Zipporah Weisberg was the Abby Benjamin Postdoctoral Fellow in Animal Ethics in the philosophy department at Queen’s University from 2013 to 2015, after completing her Ph.D. in Social and Political Thought at York University. Her dissertation drew on the early Frankfurt School's critique of the instrumentalization of reason and nature and the technologization of consciousness to critically examine the ideological infrastructure undergirding the apparatus of violence against nonhuman animals in late modernity. She is also interested in the contribution that existential phenomenology can make to animal ethics and politics. For example, in “The Simple Magic of Life:” Phenomenology, Ontology, and Animal Ethics," published in the fall 2015 issue of Humanimalia, Zipporah focuses on how Maurice Merleau-Ponty's explorations into animal subjects as embodied, perceptually-attuned, world-making beings provides a welcome alternative to Peter Singer's reductive ontology (and ethics) of animals as suffering bodies. Current projects include a chapter on Animal Assisted Intervention and citizenship in a volume on animal companionship (forthcoming from Oxford University Press), and a chapter on the importance of reinventing Left Humanism beyond the human, for a volume on political theory and animal rights (eds. Andrew Woodall and Gabriel Garmendia da Trindade). Other publications include, "The Broken Promises of Monsters: Haraway, Animals, and the Humanist Legacy" (Journal for Critical Animal Studies, 2009), and "Biotechology as End Game: Ontological and Ethical Collapse in the 'Biotech Century'" (NanoEthics, 2015). (


Research Partners and Related Projects


Animals in Science Policy Institute (AiSPI) – Vancouver, BC

The Animals in Science Policy Institute (AiSPI) was officially registered as a non-profit society in July 2015 to address the need for more critical and constructive dialogue about the use of animals in research, teaching, and testing in Canada. There is growing literature on the merits of non-animal alternatives for various different applications; however, there is disconnect between alternatives development and implementation. As a result, there are still millions of animals used for scientific purposes in Canada each year. AiSPI aims to promote meaningful, evidence-based discussion about the need to use animals in science, to highlight where non-animal alternatives can be better implemented, and to encourage deeper ethical reflection about animal use in the scientific community.


Centre for Animals and Social Justice (CASJ) -- Sheffield, UK  

The CASJ is dedicated to research, education and policy engagement that establish animals’ rightful status as recipients of social justice. Enshrining animal protection as a fundamental social value entails recognizing that the protection of animals is not something that can simply be left to the whims of private individuals, societal custom or market forces.  If the protection of animals is to be in any way robust, it is absolutely crucial that the state takes an active role.  Just as we should not leave child protection or the fight against discrimination to the goodwill of individuals and business, so must animal protection be promoted and enforced by good government legislation.


Centre for Evolutionary Ecology and Ethical Conservation (CEEEC) – Laurentian University, ON

CEEEC is dedicated to fostering cross-disciplinary collaborations in the pursuit of socially responsible and biological sustainable biodiversity conservation. CEEEC’s twin goals are to (a) promote cross-disciplinary cooperation on conservation and environmental issues and (b) integrate evolutionary perspectives in the conservation of biodiversity. CEEEC is anchored by two Canada Research Chairs – one in Applied Evolutionary Ecology and the other in Environment, Culture and Values. Members of CEEEC and APPLE are currently participating in the Chimpopolis Project (see below).


Groupe de Recherche en Éthique Environnementale et Animale (GRÉEA)

The GRÉEA is an interuniversity and interdisciplinary research group in environmental and animal ethics, created in 2015, and associated with the Centre de recherche en éthique de Montréal (CRÉ). The GRÉEA aims at promoting exchange and collaborative work between researchers (professors/teachers in university/CEGEP, post-doc students, etc.) and graduate students (master or PhD level) working in environmental and/or animal ethics or on related issues. Regular members of the group are thus meeting every month to discuss about their on-going research, meeting occasionally for reading groups as well. Furthermore, the GRÉEA aims at making more visible and accessible to the academic as well as the non-academic public, French and English language research in environmental and animal ethics through public events, such as public workshop or conference. In addition, latest news about environmental and animal ethics events happening in Montreal, Quebec, or North-America, along with GRÉEA members’ new publications, are regularly published on the GRÉEA website.


Human-Animal Research Network (HARN) – University of Sydney, Australia

The Human Animal Research Network (HARN) at the University of Sydney was formed in 2011. It is a cross-faculty research group comprising members from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Science, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Sydney School of Public Health, and Sydney Law School. HARN is an important contributor to the emergent field of Animal Studies, both in Australia and internationally. This field of study serves as a bridge between the social sciences and sciences, and the structure of our group reflects this. Species extinctions, environmental sustainability and climate change, animal welfare and rights in the context of large scale agriculture and fishing, companion animal ethics, as well as recent controversies surrounding live animal exports, horse racing and mosquitoes, highlight the fact that significant problems emerge when public understandings, scientific innovation and legal frameworks are out of step with each other. The disciplines of human-animal studies, law, veterinary science, cultural studies and public health meet at this point ­– each concerned with questions such as:

·        How does contact between humans and other species shape and reflect social relations in modern societies?

·         How do we think ethics and politics in context of human / animal relations?

·         How do humans and animals share places and spaces?

·         How does human-animal interaction affect health, wellbeing and species survival?

By bringing together researchers who are experts in both social and scientific problem solving, HARN is uniquely placed to respond to these questions. APPLE members recently participated in a HARN-sponsored research project called “A Sustainable Campus: The Sydney Declaration on Interspecies Sustainability”


Politics and Animals Journal, Lund University, Sweden

Politics and Animals is a peer-reviewed, open access journal that explores the human-animal relationship from the vantage point of political science and political theory. It hosts international, multidisciplinary research and debate — conceptual and empirical — on the consequences and possibilities that human-animal relations have for politics and vice versa. APPLE is a co-sponsor of Politics and Animals.


Chimpopolis: Science, Society and the Philosophical Animal – Dalhousie University (NS)

Principal investigator Letitia Meynell (Dalhousie), with co-investigators Andrew Fenton (Dalhousie) and Gillian Crozier (Laurentian), is leading a SSHRC-funded project on "Chimpopolis". The animal sciences increasingly support the view that humans are not the only species with rich mental, social, and emotional lives. These discoveries are having an impact on social norms, including science policies governing animal experimentation on nonhuman animals. Too often, however, policy changes and welfare guidelines reflect views of other animals as objects, property, resources, or tools. In Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights, Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka offer a political framework for understanding the ethical dimensions of human-nonhuman interactions such that our ethical responsibilities to other animals arise from how we co-exist in our respective communities. At the heart of the ‘Zoopolian’ approach is the recognition that many nonhuman animals are particular others and that we ought to interact with them in ways responsive to both their species-typical characteristics and their individual personalities (including their competencies for living independently and their preferences of treatment). Our project will develop the implications of this theory for science policy, scientific practice, and knowledge production in science. We bring two commitments together: (a) using the best available science when discussing the capacities and attendant vulnerabilities of other animals of moral concern, and (b) re-envisioning our moral relationships with other animals free of anthropocentric bias. Chimpanzees are ideal candidates to narrow our focus as their expressed preferences of treatment, social competences, and sense of communal cohesion and identity permit a particular application of Donaldson and Kymlicka’s framework that crosses contexts as diverse as laboratories, sanctuaries, zoos, and free-living populations. APPLE members Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka are collaborators in this project.


Humane Jobs Project – Brock University, ON

Dr. Kendra Coulter is leading a project to conceptualize and promote the concept of humane jobs, in an innovative multi-year study funded by SSHRC. Students who would like to study animals, work, and humane jobs at the undergraduate or graduate level are encouraged to get in touch, as are other researchers, worker and/or animal advocates, policy makers, members of the media, and any other interested people.


Lives of Animals Research Group – Queen’s University, ON

 Under the direction of Dr. Alice Hovorka, the objective of the (SSHRC-funded) Lives of Animals Research Group is to explore the complex encounters between humans and animals within broader political, economic, social, cultural, spatial, environmental, and ethical contexts. The project embraces interdisciplinary and action-oriented research to inform scholarly and policy realms, and to enhance the lives of animals, and humans, as a result.