An Agenda for Animal Political Theory

  • Marcel Wissenburg
Part of the The Palgrave Macmillan Animal Ethics Series book series (PMAES)


When does animal ethics turn into animal political theory? Fairly recently, Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka, in their seminal Zoopolis (2011), proclaimed the birth of animal political theory, in which centre stage is given to the attribution of positive political, even citizenshiplike, rights to animals rather than to defending human duties towards animals, as traditional animal advocates do. Both preceding and following Zoopolis, a literature has emerged that labels itself political theory, yet addresses questions from the animal advocacy repertoire. I use the expression ‘yet’ deliberately: if there is one thing that traditionally defines political theory, it is that it relates to an activity that only the zoön politikon, the political animal, can perform, thus distinguishing the zoön politikon radically from other (nonhuman) animals. There are no animals in traditional political theory, at least not as patients or subjects, let alone as fellow citizens.


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© Marcel Wissenburg 2014

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  • Marcel Wissenburg

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