Animals and Equality Conference

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Conference to be held on Friday-Saturday October 18/19, 2024. This conference is organized by the Duke Center for Law, Economics and Public Policy (CLEPP) and co-sponsored by CLEPP and the NYU Mind, Ethics, and Policy Program.  

A vast literature now exists on the ethical status of non-human animals (for short, “animals”). Much of this scholarship is utilitarian, going back to Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation (1975) and much earlier, of course, to Bentham. Another substantial portion is rights-based, as in Tom Regan’s The Case for Animal Rights (1983). Relatively less work addresses the status of animals for purposes of broadly egalitarian ethical views. “Broadly egalitarian,” here, includes telic welfare-egalitarianism, prioritarianism, and sufficientism; these views modified to incorporate considerations of desert, responsibility, or opportunity; deontic versions of these views;  relational egalitarianism; and accounts of distributive justice framed in terms of resources rather than welfare or desert/responsibility/opportunity-adjusted welfare.   

How animals figure in such views is, to be sure, a topic that some scholarship has taken up. Shelly Kagan’s How to Count Animals, more or less (2019) is a prominent recent example. But the question of animals and equality has been less central to the literature on animal ethics than other topics.

This conference, “Animals and Equality,” will focus on the role of animals in broadly egalitarian ethical views. Both philosophical scholarship and scholarship in welfare economics/social choice theory is invited. On a different axis, we invite contributions arguing that animals have full status within a broadly egalitarian view; alternatively, arguing that animals have diminished status or fall outside the scope of such view; and scholarship exploring the details of how to incorporate animals into a broadly egalitarian account. Other work on animals and broad egalitarianism also falls within the scope of the conference (for example, analyzing the questions that animal well-being poses for egalitarianism among humans).

Call for Abstracts

Those interested in presenting at the conference should email an abstract not to exceed 300 words to Please include a current CV. Due date for abstracts:  May 1, 2024. Presentations should be based on work-in-progress, rather than already published work. (Working papers available at the conference date will be circulated to participants, but are not required for a presentation.) The conference will be an in-person conference. Zoom presentations are possible, but preference will be given to in-person presentations. The conference sponsors will cover accommodation (up to 3 nights) for those presenting at the conference, and vegan food will be served during the conference. We have limited budget to cover travel by early career scholars (within five years of their degree).

Conference organizer: Matthew Adler, Program committee: Matthew Adler (Duke), Heather Browning (Southampton), Jeff Sebo (NYU).