What we can learn about death, and about caring for those who are nearing the end of life, from our experiences with animals? The simple answer: A lot! This talk will explore what kinds of “death awareness” animals might possess, and will look at some fascinating reports of death-related behavior, including grieving, in both wild and domesticated animals. We’ll also examine human cultural, psychological and moral attitudes toward and practices related to animal death, focusing particularly on the death of companion species such as dogs and cats, and on the growing field of veterinary hospice and palliative care. Here we find a rich source of insight on caring for dying animals, and also a useful comparative ground thinking about our own death and the death of our human loved ones.
Jessica Pierce is a bio-ethicist and non-fiction writer who earned a M.Div. from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in religious ethics from the University of Virginia. She is an affiliate faculty member at the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado Denver. Her publications include Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals, written in collaboration with cognitive ethologist Marc Bekoff; The Last Walk: Reflections on Our Pets at the Ends of Their Lives; and most recently, Run, Spot, Run: The Ethics of Keeping Pets. Her other publications have appeared in the Journal of Bio-Ethical Inquiry, the Journal of Environmental Philosophy, and The Chronicle of Higher Education, as well as popular articles for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
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Series Funders and Co-Sponsors: UF Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere (Rothman Endowment), UF Smathers Libraries, UF Office of Research, School of Art + Art History's Harn Eminent Scholar Lecture Series, UF International Center, UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, UF Department of History, UF Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, UF Center for Latin American Studies, UF Department of Religion, Alachua County Library District, UF College of Veterinary Medicine, UF Digital Worlds Institute, UF Honors Program.
For an overview of Death: Confronting the Great Divide, click here.
Center for the Humanities
and the Public Sphere
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
200 Walker Hall
P.O. Box 118030
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611