Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Stikkers, Kenneth

Second Advisor

Kroner, Daryl


In this dissertation, I propose that a Deweyan ethic—supplemented by Care ethics and ecofeminism can better evaluate, enhance, and nurture human/nonhuman animal relationships. While Peter Singer’s utilitarianism and Tom Regan’s deontology are considered the dominant ethical theories in the field of animal ethics, they cannot fully attend to the complexities of human/nonhuman animal relationships. Some of the shortcomings of Singer’s and Regan’s theories explored in this dissertation are the absence of context, the dichotomization of reason/emotion and human/animal, the calculative sterility of moral deliberation, and the problematic language of ‘rights.’ Further, I propose that a supplemented Deweyan ethic might be fruitfully applied to two canine-training programs in prisons: Paws in Prisons (PIP) and A Dog On Prison Turf (ADOPT). I use the work of Angela Davis and Bénédicte Boisseron on prisons to explore how a Deweyan ethic might be better equipped to evaluate and enhance these relationships, given their location. To fully appreciate the capacity of a Deweyan ethic in human/nonhuman animal relationships, one must wrestle with the messiness of the program’s location while at the same time acknowledge that despite the fact that they are in prison, something meaningful happens here between human/nonhuman animals. In the Deweyan spirit, I test this hypothesis by interviewing participants in these programs and use those qualitative aspects as feedback for my initial hypotheses.




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