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The Specter of SpeciesismBuddhist and Christian Views of Animals$
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Paul Waldau

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195145717

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195145712.001.0001

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The Christian Understanding of Other Animals

The Christian Understanding of Other Animals

(p.202) 9 The Christian Understanding of Other Animals
The Specter of Speciesism

Paul Waldau

Oxford University Press

A general assessment of early Christian views, concentrating on the notions of dominion, stewardship, sacrifice, and the Greek‐inspired narrowing of rich and sometimes contradictory values regarding nonhuman animals that were part of the Hebrew view of the surrounding world inherited by the early Christians. Generally, the early tradition established a view regarding humans and other animals that still operates for many Christians today. This claim is that each and every member of the human species, by virtue of species membership alone, has a special, qualitatively superior ontological status relative to other animals. The tradition claims that it is eminently moral that the interests of any human animal prevail in virtually any nontrivial circumstance over the interests of any other animal. The notion of “speciesism” illuminates features of how mainstream Christianity has come to understand the place of other animals even though there are individuals and subtraditions exhibiting values that clearly do not fit the description “speciesist.”

Keywords:   Christianity, dominion, Greek, narrowing, sacrifice, stewardship, subtraditions

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