Key Terms

Animal Abolitionist: someone who believes in animal rights in the strong sense and believes that all forms of animal use and exploitation should be abolished. An animal abolitionist typically is opposed to “animal welfare tactics” because she believes that the goal of animal liberation is to end animal exploitation altogether– the goal is *not* to just “reduce” the suffering of nonhuman animals.

Animal Welfarist: someone who believes that morality requires us to reduce the suffering of nonhuman animals, but does not believe that we are necessarily morally obligated to abolish all forms of animals use, so long as we use the animals in a “nice” way. An animal welfarist will typically promote “happy exploitation” such as “happy farms”– for an example of an animal welfarist, see Jeff McMahan’s article “Eating Animals the Nice Way“. Animal welfarists typically believe that it is wrong to cause nonhuman animals to suffer without good reason, but that it is not necessarily wrong to use or kill nonhuman animals, so long as it is done “nicely.” The assumption, then, is that death does not harm nonhuman animals because they do not have future-oriented preferences/interests.

Anthropocentrism: the belief that human beings are the central or the most significant species on the earth.

Anthropodenial: the refusal to acknowledge certain similarities between humans and other animals.

Anthropomorphism: attributing human-like characters to nonhuman animals who don’t actually have those characteristics.

Biocentrism: a philosophical position which maintains that all living organisms (which includes plants, nonhuman animals, and human beings) have inherent value.

Demi-Vegetarian: a term coined by utilitarian R.M. Hare in his essay “Why I am Only a Demi-Vegetarian,” which refers to someone who is not a vegetarian or vegan, yet eats little meat and is “careful what kinds of meat he (or she) eats.” The terms conscientious omnivore and benign carnivore are also often used to describe people who “eat animals the nice way.”

Ecofeminism: a social, political, and ethical movement which points to the commonalities between environmentalism and feminism. The central claim is that there is an undeniable parallel between the oppression and subordination of women and the degradation of nature (some focus specifically on the domination and exploitation of nonhuman animals).

Inherent Worth: the worth that an individual has, in-and-of-itself, irrespective of its usefulness to others, i.e., its utility it may or may not have relative to the interests of others.

Instrumental Value: a being with mere instrumental value has value only insofar as it can be used as a means of achieving something else; it does not have value in-and-of-itself. For instance, my computer has instrumental value because it is valuable only insofar as it allows me to surf the internet, watch movies, write philosophical essays, and so forth; but if it didn’t function properly, it would no longer have value.

Sentience: the ability to feel, perceive, and have subjective experiences; this term is often used synonymously with “phenomenal consciousness.”

Speciesism: the arbitrary and unjustified preference of one’s own species over all other species; giving special privilege to individuals just because they are a member of one’s own species.

Vegan: someone who does not eat meat, nor any other animal by-product (egg, dairy, and so forth); a vegan also abstains from the use of clothing, household products, cosmetics, and so forth that either (a) were tested on animals, or (b) contain some sort of animal by-product in them.