Animal Ethics


Photo credit: Shutterstock

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

The Animal Ethics study group at the Yale Bioethics Center was formed in response to both the moral imperative to delve deeper into the human treatment of other animals and the theoretical challenge to give nonhuman animals their due in ethics. While many people have passionate opinions about animal ethics issues, they can be diametrically opposed: from seeing nonhuman animals as strictly subservient to human purposes to conceptualizing them as full rights-bearing members of the moral community. Our group is dedicated to addressing the gamut of questions from all points of view, with presenters drawn from a broad interdisciplinary spectrum.  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.


2018-2019 Yale Animal Ethics Study Group Schedule

For more information or to be placed on the email list for upcoming study group meetings, email animalethics@yale.edu

October 11th, 2018: Natalie Kofler PhD  Founder, Editing Nature, Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies will lead a discussion on the ethical implications of genetic engineering of animals.

November 15th, 2018: Kathryn Lord, PhD, a post-doctoral researcher on the evolution and development of animal behavior at The University of Massachusetts Medical School and The Broad Institute of MIT/Harvard will present:

“Stuck in the middle: a discussion of wolf-dog hybrids”

Dogs and wolves behave very differently towards humans. Yet, they are so similar genetically they can (and do) breed and have fertile offspring.  Some wolf-dogs are the result of intentional breeding as pets; many wolf-dogs acquired as pets are eventually relinquished or forcibly removed to sanctuaries. Others are produced in the wild when wolves struggling to find mates in disturbed habits come into contact with dogs; many wolf-dogs in the wild are culled to preserve the genetic purity of endangered species.  Given that wolf-dogs are not well suited to survive in the habitat of dogs or wolves, how should they be managed?

Dr. Lord will also present a public lecture on the Yale campus on November 15th; details TBD

December 6th, 2018: Professor Jessica Rubin, Director of Legal Practice and the Animal Law Clinic at University of Connecticut Law School will give a presentation about her role in the creation of and implementation of “Desmond’s Law”, the first law to allow legal advocates to testify on behalf of animals in cases of abuse and neglect. For more information see this story on the law: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/27/nyregion/animal-abuse-connecticut-court-advocates.html

Professor Rubin will also present a public lecture on the Yale campus on December 6th; details TBD

February, 21st, 2019: Yuka Suzuki, PhD, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Bard College and affiliated with the Environmental Studies, Africana Studies, and Asian Studies programs at Bard will join the study group to discuss her work on human-wildlife interactions in Southern Africa

March 21st, 2019: Daniel Promislow, PhD, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Washington with a research interest in the evolutionary genetics will be coming to the study group to tell us about his lab’s large and well publicized Dog Aging Project (https://dogagingproject.com/). The Dog Aging Project is the first ever nationwide study proposed to understand canine aging and consists of multiple basic research projects and a large scale citizen science project.

May 2nd, 2019: David Pepin, PhD, Assistant Professor of Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital and a reproductive biologist will present his work on Mullerian Inhibiting Substance which inhibits ovarian cancer growth, but is also being trialed as an injectable contraceptive for cats.


Speakers and topics from previous years:

2017-2018
2016-2017
2015-2016
2014-2015
2013-2014
2012-2013
2011-2012
2010-2011
2009-2010
2008-2009

Spring 2008