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S6E1: Politics with Will Kymlicka

Claudia launches Season 6 by talking to Will Kymlicka about politics. They discuss how animals remain largely sidelined in political philosophical thought, as compared to other areas of ethics and social theory. Will delves into three different models for how to bring animals into politics: politics “on behalf of” animals, where humans represent animals; politics “by” animals, where wild animals exercise self-government; and politics “with” animals, where humans and animals do politics together and co-author decisions. As examples of joint politics, they discuss recent efforts to share power with domesticated animals in farmed animal sanctuaries, in the family and in the workplace.

About Will Kymlicka

Will Kymlicka is the Canada Research Chair in Political Philosophy in the Philosophy Department at Queen's University in Kingston, Canada, where he has taught since 1998. He is the co-author with Sue Donaldson of Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights, published by Oxford University Press in 2011, and now translated into German, French, Spanish, Japanese, Turkish, Dutch, Chinese, Korean, and Polish. Zoopolis argues that animals belong at the heart of democratic political theory - defending rights of citizenship for domesticated animals and sovereignty rights for wild animals – and its ideas have helped launch the recent `political turn’ in animal ethics. Will and Sue have continued developing their model of a zoopolis, and its implications for animal advocacy, legal reform, and alliances with other social justice movements. Their recent work has appeared in Politics and Animals; The Philosophy and Politics of Animal Liberation;  Journal of Animal Ethics; Canadian Perspectives on Animals and the Law; the Oxford Handbook of Animal Studies. Will co-directs the Animals in Philosophy, Politics, Law and Ethics research group at Queen’s University, including its postdoctoral fellowship program, and teaches courses in animals and political theory and in animals and the law.


Recorded: 30 September 2023

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In this Animal Highlight, fellow Virginia Thomas focuses on the domestic dog and  the ways in which they might be thought of as citizens. She  thinks about some of dogs' history and discusses the work of Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka. You can read more about the highlight here. 

Animal Highlight: Domesticated Dogs

“Developments in social theory over the past few decades have unsettled deeply entrenched assumptions about what constitutes the human by exposing the tenuous divisions that separate humans, non-human animals and technologies and, in turn, affording a more active role to non-human entities in the constitution of social worlds. The concept of the public, however, remains persistently, stubbornly, and somewhat curiously entrenched in anthropomorphic imaginaries. Within and outside of academe, it is commonplace to suppose that publics are purely human and that publics arise from the unique human capacity for symbolic communication" (Blue and Rock 2014: 504).

Thank you to Animals in Philosophy, Politics, Law and Ethics (A.P.P.L.E) for sponsoring this podcast; Christiaan Mentz for hi editing work, Virginia Thomas for the Animal Highlight, Gordon Clarke for the bed music, Jeremy John (Website) for the logo. This podcast is hosted and produced by Claudia Hirtenfelder. 

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