We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Price: $38.50

Paperback 304 pp.
12 illustrations, 6.125" x 9.25"



Publication date:
May 2014

Imprint: OUP US

Share on Facebook

Add to Favourites Tell a Friend

The Ethics of Captivity

Edited by Lori Gruen

In the United States roughly 2 million people are incarcerated; billions of animals are held captive (and then killed) in the food industry every year; hundreds of thousands of animals are kept in laboratories; thousands are in zoos and aquaria; millions of "pets" are captive in our homes. Surprisingly, despite the rich ethical questions it raises, very little philosophical attention has been paid to questions raised by captivity.

Though conditions of captivity vary widely for humans and for other animals, there are common ethical themes that imprisonment raises, including the value of liberty, the nature of autonomy, the meaning of dignity, and the impact of routine confinement on physical and psychological well-being. This volume brings together scholars, scientists, and sanctuary workers to address in fifteen new essays the ethical issues captivity raises. Section One contains chapters written by those with expert knowledge about particular conditions of captivity and includes discussion of how captivity is experienced by dogs, whales and dolphins, elephants, chimpanzees, rabbits, formerly farmed animals, and human prisoners. Section Two contains chapters by philosophers and social theorists that reflect on the social, political, and ethical issues raised by captivity, including discussions about confinement, domestication, captive breeding for conservation, the work of moral repair, dignity and an ethics of sight, and the role that coercion plays.

Readership : Suitable for undergraduate students in a wide-range of courses, including courses in practical ethics, animal studies, environmental studies, and critical thinking.

Lori Gruen: Introduction
Section One
1. Alexandra Horowitz: "Canis Familiaris: Companion and Captive"
2. Lori Marino: "Cetacean Captivity"
3. Catherine Doyle: "Captive Elephants"
4. Stephen R. Ross: "Captive Chimpanzees"
5. Margo DeMello: "Rabbits in Captivity"
6. Miriam Jones: "Captivity in the Context of a Sanctuary for Formerly Farmed Animals"
7. John Bryant, James Davis, David Haywood, Clyde Meikle, Andre Pierce: "Life Behind Bars"
8. Lauren Gazzola: "Political Captivity"
Section Two
9. Clare Palmer and Peter Sandoe: "For their Own Good: Captive Cats and Routine Confinement"
10. Alasdair Cochrane: "Born in Chains? The Ethics of Domestication"
11. Robert Strieffer: "The Confinement of Laboratory Animals: Ethical and Conceptual Issues"
12. Irus Braveman: "Captive for Life: Conserving Extinct Species through Ex Situ Breeding"
13. Karen S. Emmerman: "Sanctuary, Not Remedy: The Problem of Captivity and the Need for Moral Repair"
14. Lori Gruen: "Dignity, Captivity, and an Ethics of Sight"
15. Lisa Rivera: "Captivity and Coercion"

There are no Instructor/Student Resources available at this time.

Lori Gruen is Professor of Philosophy, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Environmental Studies at Wesleyan University where she also coordinates Wesleyan Animal Studies and directs the Ethics in Society Project. She is the author, most recently, of Ethics and Animals (2011) and co-editor with Carol Adams of Ecofeminism: Feminist Intersections with Other Animals and the Earth (2014).

Making Sense - Margot Northey and Joan McKibbin
The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics - Tom L. Beauchamp and R.G. Frey
Why Animal Suffering Matters - Andrew Linzey
Animal Rights - Paul Waldau
The Ethics of Total Confinement - Bruce A. Arrigo, Heather Y. Bersot and Brian G. Sellers

Special Features

  • Discusses the specific conditions of captivity for both humans and nonhumans.
  • Considers captivity without regard to the species of the captive and including a variety of settings such as zoos and aquaria, circuses, labs, sanctuaries, homes and human prisons.
  • Explores the question of what other values beyond suffering may be compromised by captivity in cases where holding individuals captive does not cause obvious suffering.