The Specter of Speciesism: Buddhist and Christian Views of Animals

Synopsis

This new study looks at how non-human animals have been viewed in the Buddhist and Christian religious traditions. The concept of speciesism, coined in 1970 as an analogy to racism and discussed almost exclusively within philosophical circles, is used to explore very basic questions about which animals, human or otherwise, were significant to early Buddhists and Christians. Drawing on scriptures and interpretive traditions in Christianity and Buddhism, Waldau argues that decisions about human ethical responsibilities in both religions are deeply rooted in ancient understandings of the place of humans in the world and our relationships with other animals in an integrated cosmos. His study offers scholars and others interested in the bases for ethical decisions new insights into Christian and Buddhist reasoning about animals as well as what each might have to offer to the current discussions about animal rights and environmental ethics.