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British political theorist, ethicist, activist, authorwd:Q14946680
Alasdair Cochrane (born 31 March 1978) is a British political theorist and ethicist who is currently a senior lecturer in political theory in the Department of Politics at the University of Sheffield. He is known for his work on animal rights from the perspective of political theory, which is the subject of his two books: An Introduction to Animals and Political Theory (2010, Palgrave Macmillan) and Animal Rights Without Liberation (2012, Columbia University Press). His third book, Sentienist Politics, will be published by Oxford University Press in 2018. He is a founding member of the Centre for Animals and Social Justice, a UK-based think tank focussed on furthering the social and political status of nonhuman animals. He joined the Department at Sheffield in 2012, having previously been a faculty member at the Centre for the Study of Human Rights, London School of Economics.
Cochrane's work forms part of the political turn in animal ethics—that is, the emergence of academic literature exploring the normative aspects of human/nonhuman animal relationships from a political perspective. He is known for his interest-based account of animal rights, a theory of justice according to which animals have rights based on their possession of normatively-significant interests. The account is a two-tiered one, with individuals' strong interests grounding prima facie rights, and some prima facie rights becoming concrete, or all-things-considered, rights. In this picture, the violation of concrete rights, but not necessarily prima facie rights, represents an injustice. In particular, Cochrane argues that sentient animals' interests against suffering and death ground prima facie rights against the infliction of suffering and death. These prima facie rights convert to concrete rights in, for example, animal agriculture and animal testing, meaning that killing nonhuman animals or making them suffer for these purposes is unjust.
Cochrane argues that nonhuman animals do not possess an intrinsic interest in freedom. Therefore, owning or using nonhuman animals is not, in itself, unjust. This aspect of his thought has generated responses by others, including the political theorist Robert Garner and the philosopher John Hadley, who argue that there may be reasons to claim that nonhuman animals do possess an interest in freedom. Cochrane has also proposed a cosmopolitan alternative to Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka's picture of a political animal rights, explicated in their 2011 book Zoopolis. Though Donaldson and Kymlicka have defended their account against Cochrane's criticism, they have said that they welcome attempts to develop alternative political theories of animal rights to their own. Cochrane's other research focusses variously on bioethics, punishment, just war and human rights.
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