Animal Ethics

piglets in field
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The Animal Ethics study group at the Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics meets (usually) monthly, over a vegan lunch, for a presentation and lively discussion about a current issue in animal ethics. Our presenters come from diverse fields including law, conservation biology, anthropology, history, veterinary medicine, agricultural research, psychology, philosophy, and genomic/genetic research science. Often, the presenters bring works in progress or new publications to share with us. Participants are equally as diverse and come from both the Yale community and beyond, with many coming from other professional fields.

We share a common interest in learning about the factual underpinnings of contemporary animal issues directly from scholars in the fields. The group’s diversity adds to the richness of the discussions and captures divergent points of view in civil, but enthusiastic debates.

In the words of the study group founder, Joel Marks, “We strive to give animals themselves a figurative place at the table in lieu of their more usual and literal place on the table.”

The study group sponsors two events: a lunch time seminar and a public lecture series around related animal ethics issues.

Chairperson:   Lisa Moses, VMD, DACVIM, Faculty, Center for Bioethics, Harvard Medical School; Veterinarian in Pain and Palliative Care Medicine, MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts.

For more information or to be placed on the email list for upcoming study group meetings, email

2019-2020 Yale Animal Ethics Study Group Schedule

October 11th, 2019: Lindsay Stern, author in Yale’s Comparative Literature department, recently published a novel, The Study of Animal Languages. Lindsay is the co-host of a popular podcast, “When We Talk about Animals”. She’ll be discussing her non-fiction work in progress about primate language experiments.

November 14th: Liv Baker Van de Graaff, PhD, from The Hunter College program of  Animal Behavior & Conservation will introduce us to the concept of compassionate conservation and share some of her planned research projects at farm sanctuaries.

February 6th, 2020: Alex Blanchette, PhD, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Studies at Tufts University, will discuss his work on the ethics of labor, pigs and commercial hog farming. Professor Blanchette has published extensively on various aspects of human relationships around pigs, hog farming, pork consumption and labor, including his book Porkopolis: American Animality, Standardized Life, and the “Factory” Farm.

CANCELLED:March 26th, 2020: Jonathan Kramnick, PhD, The Maynard Mack Professor of English and director of the Lewis Walpole Library at Yale University will discuss his cross-disciplinary undergraduate course “Animals in Literature and Theory”. He’ll be discussing what the goals were, how it was organized, and what undergraduates seem most compelled by and interested in. See this link for more information:

POSTPONED until Fall 2020: Professor William Lynn, a research scientist in the George Perkins Marsh Institute at Clark University, a research fellow at New Knowledge Organization, and former Director of the Masters in Animals and Public Policy (MAPP) program at Tufts University.

The focus of his work is the ethics of sustainability with an emphasis on animals and alternative paradigms of conservation (e.g., compassionate conservation, rewilding, social nature). Professor Lynn will be talking to the study group about these paradigm shifts. He will also present a public lecture about the science and ethics of controlling free-roaming cats.

CANCELLED May 7th, 2020: Viveca Morris, executive director of the newly formed initiative: The Law, Ethics & Animals Program (LEAP) at Yale Law School and co-host of the podcast, “When We Talk about Animals”. LEAP is an interdisciplinary “think and do tank” at the Yale Law School, dedicated to drawing attention to the questions of conscience raised by human-animal relationships and developing new strategies to address industrialized animal cruelty.

2018-2019 Animal Ethics Lectures

2016-2017 Animal Ethics Lectures

2015-2016 Animal Ethics Lectures

2014-2015 Animal Ethics Lectures

Previous Chair: Joel Marks, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of New Haven.