Meet an Advisory Board Member—Part 5: Dale Jamieson: Imagining a Better World

Dale Jamieson, is Professor of Environmental Studies and Philosophy, an affiliated professor of law, director of the Animals Studies Initiative, and the founding director of the Center for Environmental and Animal Protection at New York University. He is also distinguished visiting professor at the Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College in London, England, and adjunct professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia.

Jamieson is the author of several books, including Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle to Stop Climate Change Failed – and What it Means for the Future, (Oxford, 2014); Ethics and the Environment: An Introduction, (Cambridge, 2008); and Mortality’s Progress: Essays on Humans, Other Animals, and the Rest of Nature, (Oxford, 2002). He has also co-edited nine books and has published more than one hundred articles and book chapters.

In October 2017, the Culture & Animals Foundation invited Jamieson to present a talk about Tom Regan at a festival of arts and scholarship that CAF hosted with Compassion Arts in New York City. During this event, Jamieson warmly recalled how he’d met CAF co-founder, Tom Regan, in 1975 just after the latter had written The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism, (then in pre-publication). Jamieson remembered how he’d “spent a weekend with the paper,” after which he finally understood the principled case for vegetarianism. Jamieson considered Regan’s “masterwork,” The Case for Animal Rights, “the most compelling work of the twentieth century defending the rights of animals.”

At the festival Jamieson, who reprised his talk at the Minding Animals International Conferences in Mexico City in January 2018, honored Tom and Nancy Regan’s commitment to CAF, which they’d founded in 1985: “What Nancy and Tom saw much more vividly than most of us,” he said, “is how important imagination is to social change. The first task is to make the horrors that befall animals visible. The second task is to make a better world imaginable. Both of these tasks are beyond philosophy. This, again, raises the question of how Tom got there when so many other brilliant philosophers seem to think that what we needed was one more argument and another dose of reason.”

Perhaps inspired by this sense that philosophy can extend beyond argumentation into the realm of the imagination, Jamieson has recently turned to fiction-writing. His volume of short stories, Love in the Anthropocene, (OR Press, 2015), co-written with Bonnie Nadzam, explores human relationships, and environmental and animal ethics, in a period where all three are forced to confront the limits and the transformation of the natural and the real.

Jamieson has been a friend and supporter of the Regans’ vision and CAF for many decades, and CAF is delighted he has agreed to be on our advisory board.

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