Rod Preece on “Brute Souls, Happy Beasts, and Evolution”

In his most recent text, Brute Souls, Happy Beasts, and Evolution, Dr. Rod Preece provides a careful re-reading of some major long-standing assumptions regarding animals’ moral status within Western culture. For example, he challenges typical assertions that Christian doctrine is morally bankrupt in regards to animals, and that the Cartesian notion of animals as “insentient machines” held great sway in the 17th century and beyond.

Equally important, Preece offers a critique of animal rights literature, which he argues has been characterized by adherence to ideology rather than rigorous scholarship, frequently neglecting historical nuance: “Many scholars set out to prove the importance of animal wellbeing — in my view, a matter beyond legitimate dispute — and then pretend that they are in the vanguard of thought in suggesting such a novel proposition, when, in fact, the selfsame view has been proclaimed throughout human history as one side of a continuous debate about the relative status of humans and animals” (2005, p. 5).

Please join us for a conversation with this provocative and esteemed author.


Rod Preece is Professor Emeritus at Wilfrid Laurier University and a member of the Board of Advisers to the Centre for Animal Ethics at the University of Oxford. He is the author and/or editor of nineteen books, including the recent Brute Souls, Happy Beasts and Evolution: The Historical Status of Animals. His books have won, been shortlisted and/or nominated for several book prizes.

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