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Professor Alasdair Cochrane (University of Sheffield)

Alasdair Cochrane is Professor of Political Theory in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Sheffield.

The common view in both scholarship and practice is that politics is an exclusively human concern: a practice by humans for humans. Man, as Aristotle described him, is ‘zoon politikon’, a political animal. For Aristotle, governing and being governed is both the essence and purpose of human beings, and this quality not shared by any other creature that we know of. Crucially, this human-exclusive understanding of politics is still widely shared today. That is not to say, of course, that politics is completely unconcerned about animals. Policy-makers do sometimes turn their attention towards animals, and most states have instituted, for example, a set of animal welfare laws that prohibit practices which are deemed to be ‘cruel’ or to cause ‘unnecessary …