This chapter offers an overview of the relationship between animals and the development of the American welfare state. It critiques the theory of “ethical extensionism,” which asserts that the contemporary animal welfare movement is the result of a natural expansion of our sphere of moral concern. This chapter argues instead that the ethics of our relations with animals change in conjunction with changes in the social, intellectual, and institutional context in which those relations unfold. Specifically, it asserts the animal welfare movement grew out of the expansion of the liberal welfare state. This expansion generated a new set of questions about the political community’s relationship to animals, and these questions require us to develop a liberal public philosophy consistent with the moral and social status of animals.
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