The intent of this thesis is to uncover the actual rationalizations that underlie common Western conceptions of the animal world, and in turn, influence humanity's treatment of non-humans. As the basis for the majority of these arguments are found in interpretations of Christian doctrine, a focus on this area was chosen as a means of understanding the justifications for today's human exploitation of animals. The shift from a subsistence use of animals to the modern situation, in which factory farms and the vivisector's laboratory have become commonplace is addressed, and the utilization of previous justifications for these new forms of abuse is questioned. In demonstrating the inadequacy of rationalizations based on Scriptural interpretation, the main arguments for human domination are explicated. The philosophies of Rene Descartes, St. Thomas Aquinas, Immanuel Kant, and the utilitarian school, as they relate to this issue, are treated and subsequently shown to be dependent upon a biblical interpretation professing the inherent superiority of humanity. With their religious premise evident, the resulting abuse from such ideologies is then compared to the Christian worldview and shown to be distinctly contradictory. The overall goal of this project, then, is to expose the methodological arguments for human abuse of animals that have been internalized by Western society, and to then show both their logical and theological inadequacy in the face of intensifying exploitation.


Kammer, Charles


Religious Studies

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis

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© Copyright 1993 Lea K. Zawatski