Steinkraus Lecture Guest to Address Ethical Treatment of Animals

Dr. Gary Varner, professor of philosophy, Texas A&M University
Dr. Gary Varner, professor of philosophy, Texas A&M University

OSWEGO — The SUNY Oswego philosophy department’s annual Warren Steinkraus Lecture on Human Ideals on Saturday, Oct. 8, will focus on the ethics of the treatment of animals.

Guest speaker Dr. Gary Varner, professor of philosophy at Texas A&M University, will appear at 2:15 p.m. in Room 222 (the Historic Lecture Hall) of Sheldon Hall. His lecture, free and open to the public, is titled “Personhood, Ethics and Animal Cognition.”

Varner has written more than 40 articles on the ethics of practices such as hunting, animal agriculture, medical research using animals, animal cloning and pet ownership. While other philosophers often emphasize the moral similarity of human and animal interests, Varner distinguishes among “persons,” “near-persons” and the “merely sentient,” and concludes that one may treat different animals differently.

In the first of two forthcoming books, “Personhood, Ethics and Animal Cognition: Situating Animals in the Two-Level Utilitarianism of R.M. Hare,” Varner proposes a new justification of Hare’s ethical theory and applies it to a view of animals that takes recent empirical research on animal cognition seriously.

Varner applies his conclusion — that people should change how they think about and treat other animals — to more specific issues in his second forthcoming book, “Sustaining Animals: Envisioning Humane, Sustainable Communities.”

The 23rd annual Warren Steinkraus Lecture on Human Ideals honors the SUNY Oswego professor who retired in 1987 after a distinguished career of scholarship and teaching. He was dedicated to a wide array of human ideals, such as social justice, equality, nonviolence and aesthetic quality.

Parking is free in campus lots for those attending the Steinkraus Lecture.