From Being to Thing: Personhood, Animalhood, and Deanimalization in the Human-Animal Relationship
Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only
Bachelors of Arts (BA)
Domesticated animals in the United States fluctuate between conceptualization as “people”, “property”, and the nebulous state between. The person making the assessment, the situation, and the context of the encounter determines the value assigned. Furthermore, these classifications are extremely flexible, and an animal’s use as a thing to be owned or discarded often overrides its temporary status as a person. The conception of animals as things perpetuates their ownership and treatment as goods to bought, sold, and used as products; pursuits which take priority over the animal’s well-being. However, even the perception of personhood does not guarantee good treatment. Many animals granted personhood continue to suffer due to lack of understanding of or respect for their needs and animalhood. This essay seeks to understand the mechanisms and effects of these different valuation systems, as well as their systemic origins, and to explore the oppositional relationship between commodification and personhood.
White, Madeline, "From Being to Thing: Personhood, Animalhood, and Deanimalization in the Human-Animal Relationship" (2018). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 1185.
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