Towards a Philosophy of Veterinary Medicine

PhD-Projekt von Kerstin Weich

From the rectal examination in dairy cows, diagnosis of bladder inflammation in cats, prophylactic operations of brachycephal dogs to the pharmacological know-how for the euthanasia of companion animals – in the research project "Towards a Philosophy of Veterinary Medicine" the philosophical interest is directed towards routines in the field of curative veterinary medicine. How are concepts such as health, normality and naturalness entangled in veterinary medicine with ideas and treatments of certain animals? Routine practices become the object of research, because they regulate such formations of treatment and understanding.

A crucial result of the research project is the development of a specific constellation of philosophy, animals and medicine in which the analysis of this research question becomes possible. Based on a broad and interdisciplinary state of research, a theoretical- methodological approach is developed in which the investigation of veterinary practices and patient animals is embedded in a critical questioning of medicine’s self-understanding as a discipline and its reflection in the humanities and social sciences. This way, the diversity and historicity of animal patients enable a redefinition of the relationship between veterinary medicine and its ethical reflection, which can overcome the enclosure of powerful oppositional pairs – between nature and culture, between man and animal. The art of veterinary medicine to provide a good death for an animal is a central issue in this project. The investigation of the embodiment of metaphysical ideas of mortality and humanity in an animal, via the highly medicalized culture of dying, contributes to a better understanding of euthanasia – both in veterinary medicine and in contemporary culture, in whose analyses’ animals are still rare guests.

Taken together, the individual studies make a contribution to medical philosophy that goes beyond the mere treatment of previously neglected topics and objects, by taking the philosophical question of animals in medicine seriously. This means to work on the question of how, why and with which effects animals can be considered in medicine.




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