Andrew Woodhall

Andrew Woodhall

Department of Philosophy
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

ERI Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

PhD title: Addressing Anthropocentrism in Nonhuman Ethics: Evolution, Morality, and Nonhuman Moral Beings
Supervisor: Heather Widdows and Lisa Bortolotti


In my thesis I put forward a new definition of anthropocentrism based on a thorough overview of use in the literature and via analogy with other centrisms, such as androcentrism. I argue that thus clarified anthropocentrism is unjustified and results in problems for nonhuman animals that traditional approaches in the field can not recognise or address and that any nonhuman ethic should wish to avoid.

I then demonstrate how important nonhuman ethics theories are anthropocentric on this definition, and do not address anthropocentrism, in a way that results in these problems for nonhumans. I therefore propose a nonhuman ethic that aims to be less anthropocentric. To do this I argue that both how a theory is constructed and the claims it makes must avoid and address athropocentrism as much as possible. As a result there must be no human Centre, anthropocentric norms and value claims must be challenged and rejected, nonhuman animals must be included in constructing the theory, be considered as they are rather than from human norms and perspectives, have their perspectives and norms represented in how the theory works, and the theory must be able to address more than questions of moral considerability but also challenge norms and centric-based problems.

I do this by first considering morality in light of evolution and second by looking at nonhuman moral codes. I draw upon both of these to set out a less anthropocentric nonhuman ethic by considering nonhuman animals as behaving morally, interconnected with humans, that morality is a socially-oriented evolved behaviour, and using these to construct principles and claims regarding considerability for a more-than-human ethic.

I show why this position is at least as viable as, and less problematic (qua anthropocentrism) than, the current theories as well as outlining its beneficial implications for nonhuman animals and the field. I conclude that anthropocentrism and approaching nonhuman ethics in the manner I have is therefore important for considering nonhuman issues, and that the theory I have put forward is advantageous.

Other activities

I have organised the following conferences/workshops:

Co-Convener (with Gabriel Garmendia da Trindade), 1-3rd Sept 2015, ‘Intervention or Protest: Saving Nonhmans’, MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.

Co-Organizer (with Gabriel Garmendia da Trindade), 9-10th April 2015, ‘Ethics and/or Politics: Approaching the Issues Concerning Nonhuman Animals’, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.

I have presented the following:

‘Saving Nonhumans: Drawing the Threads of a Movement Together’, (Co-Authored with Gabriel Garmendia da Trindade), Intervention or Protest: Saving Nonhumans (MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory), University of Manchester, September 2015.

‘Taking Nonhuman Perspectives Seriously: The Importance of Non-Anthropocentrism for Nonhuman Animals’, Minding Animals Conference 3, JNU, New Delhi, January 2015.

‘From Their Perspective: Approaching Nonhuman Issues Without Anthropocentrism’, Animals and Political Theory (MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory), University of Manchester, September 2014.

‘Just Another Animal: The Problematic Limitations with Nonhuman Citizenship and the Need for a More Ecocentric Political Animal Ethic’, The Political Turn in Animal Liberation (MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory), University of Manchester, September 2013.

I have been awarded the following:

2014: Awarded funding to organize the ‘Ethics and/or Politics’ conference by the Society For Applied Philosophy (£2000), the Aristotelian Society (£387), the Mind Association (£1000), the University of Birmingham (£2200), and the SavingNonhumans Initiative (£1400).

2012: Awarded AHRC funding for PhD study


Ethical and Political Approaches to Nonhuman Animal Issues: Towards an Undivided Future, Co-editor with Gabriel Garmendia da Trindade, (Palgrave MacMillan: New York, Forthcoming 2017)

Intervention or Protest: Acting for Nonhuman Animals, Co-editor with Gabriel Garmendia da Trindade, (Vernon Press: Wilmington, Oct. 2016)

‘Saving Nonhumans: Drawing the Threads of a Movement Together’, co-authored with Gabriel Garmendia da Trindade, in Intervention or Protest: Acting for Nonhuman Animals, edited by Gabriel Garmendia da Trindade and Andrew Woodhall, (Wilmington: Vernon Press, Oct. 2016)

‘Anthropocentrism and the Issues Facing Nonhuman Animals’, in Animals in Human Society: Amazing Creatures who Share Our Planet, edited by Daniel Moorehead. (Lanham: University Press of America, 2016)

Anna L. Peterson: Being Animal: Beasts & Boundaries in Nature Ethics (Columbia University Press, 2013, 222p, € 23,27), Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, Vol. 18, Issue 4, (August. 2015), pp. 877-879