Steve Cooke

measuring the boundaries of our nation by the sun


Animal Rights and Environmental Terrorism

My paper ‘Animal Rights and Environmental Terrorism’ just been published in the Journal of Terrorism Research. In the paper, I argue that not only are many paradigmatic, putative acts of animal rights and environmental terrorism such as illegal animal liberation and tree-spiking not terrorism at all, but also that even those that are terrorism may justified nevertheless (or at least are not straightforwardly wrongful). In the paper, I also lay out a taxonomy of animal rights/environmental direct action, separating acts into civil disobedience, rescue acts, sabotage, and terrorism.

The Journal is Open Access and operates with a Creative Commons licence, so there’s no pay-wall to negotiate. Link:

The paper was written while I was employed as the Society for Applied Philosophy‘s 30th Anniversary Research Fellow, so thanks are due to them for funding my research.

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Call for papers: ‘The Political Turn in Animal Liberation’, MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory

MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory – Tenth Annual Conference, 4th – 6th September 2013

Manchester Centre for Political Theory (MANCEPT), University of Manchester, Workshop on ‘The Political Turn in Animal Liberation’

Convenors: Steve Cooke (University of Manchester), Tony Milligan (University of Aberdeen), Les Mitchell (University of Fort Hare)

Abstracts are invited for a workshop on ‘The Political Turn in Animal Liberation’ at the MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory.

Recent work on animal liberation has seen a change in emphasis towards exploring how political communities should relate to non-human animals. With this in mind, abstracts are invited on the following suggested topics:

  • Animals, rights, and justice
  • Animals and citizenship
  • Animal liberation
  • Liberalism and animals
  • Animals and political thought

If you would like to present a paper at this workshop, please send a 500-word abstract (or a full paper) to by 1st June 2012.

Contributions are welcome from the fields of political theory/philosophy, history of philosophy, and ethics.

Conference website:

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New book: Animal Rights without Liberation

My good friend and all round excellent scholar Alasdair Cochrane has just published a new book. You should all buy it – I know I’m going to.  To give you a flavour, here’s a review by another great scholar, John Hadley:

“Readers unfamiliar with animal rights may find the very idea perplexing. Aren’t rights reserved for human beings only? Come to think of it, aren’t rights reserved for only certain kinds of human beings, namely, persons—people who possess sophisticated psychological capacities?

Animal rights philosophers like Alasdair Cochrane (Department of Politics, Sheffield University) are in the business of challenging the orthodox view about rights. In Animal Rights without Liberation he offers a qualified position—animals have a right not to suffer and a right not to be killed but they do not have a right to liberty. In other words, people may continue to own and use animals so long as they do not kill them or cause too much pain in the process….”

Read the rest of the review here:

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Come, laugh at my pain!

I’ve decided to raise some cash for the Dr. Hadwen Trust whilst running the Chester Half Marathon. They fund medical research to replace the use of animals in biomedical research and testing. In other words, they’re doing good for both humans and non-humans at the same time – how great is that? Anyway, it’s going to hurt, lots. Why not give me your encouragement* as I see how much punishment my much-operated-upon knee can take? I’ll even post a picture of me in pain.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

* substitute ‘cash and schadenfreude’ for ‘encouragement’.

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On collaborative writing

Yesterday Alasdair Cochrane from Sheffield University came down to work on a paper with me (buy his excellent little book on animals and political theory here). I’m blogging about it because it’s my first foray into co-authoring. Admittedly, when you take into account presentation, feedback, and peer review, most academic writing is collaboratively written to some degree, but this is different. I thought I’d share how we’ve proceeded in case it’s useful to others, and in case anyone out there can offer us advice.

The paper began as a short, targeted paper (3000 words) which had presented to a conference: Alasdair used the paper as a starting point to develop a broader idea. We’ve spent a day thrashing out a structure together, considered our claims and potential counter-claims, identified key areas of the literature, and assigned starting sections for each of us to draft (with deadlines).

I’m keen to make best use of collaborative tools, so we’re going to have a go at using Googledocs for our first draft. Gooledocs is good, because multiple authors can work on a document in real time, and with differing permission levels. Googledocs also has threaded comments features with primitive work-flow management features (you can mark a comment ‘resolved’). It also has revision tracking features, and it’s ‘Research’ tool allows you to search Google Scholar and insert references while you work. There’s even a real-time chat function.

Later, I expect we’ll import the document into a Word or LibreOffice, use some decent reference management software (I use Zotero), and apply an appropriate template to make it all conform to the publishing guidelines of the journal we’re targeting. The last bit requires that we structure our document properly by using the right heading levels and so forth.

So far, the process has been fun and productive – I’m looking forward to continuing the process. Anyone out there care to share experiences of give tips?

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Job Opening at Animals and Society Institute (US)

I’ve just received an email about the job below – looks interesting.

AniCare/Rapid Response Project Director

Animals and Society Institute is a nonprofit organization located in Ann Arbor, MI

General: Part-time (12-18 hrs per week). September 1, 2012 start date. Opportunity to work in animal advocacy. Successful candidate can work off-site.

Position Summary: Administer two existing programs related to the cycle of violence. National in scope, the programs require interfacing with human service and criminal justice agencies.

Job Functions: Manage, further develop, and market existing programs; oversee production of bi-monthly e-newsletter, organize workshops, facilitate the development of coalitions of stakeholders, research funders and write grants, outreach to media. Oversee and update organization’s web pages related to the programs.

Education: Minimum: MA in human services or in criminal justice or related fields. Preferred: PhD in human service or JD; advanced degree in criminal justice or related fields considered; certification or degree in human-animal studies or related field.

Experience: Minimum: Program management and development, marketing Preferred: Work in human services and criminal justice fields.

Skills: Organizational ability, project coordination, writing, computer (Microsoft Office, Access, Adobe); ability to interact with professionals in human services and criminal justice fields.

TO APPLY: Send cover letter and curriculum vita or résumé to Kate Brindle.

Deadline for applications is August 15, 2012.