Philosophers and Their Pets

In the United States it is National Pet Day, an unofficial holiday created in 2006 to “celebrate the joy pets can bring to us,” and an unofficial reason for us to talk about philosophers and their pets and philosophy regarding pets, and—why not?—to share photos of our pets.

We ran a similar post a while ago, but it was just about dogs. The discussion unearthed some gems, like a translation of Leibniz’s satirical “Request of the Dogs” (from Justin E.H. Smith) and the following book cover (courtesy of Travis Timmerman):


But National Pet Day isn’t limited to just dogs. Cats can be pets, too, or so I’m told. And let’s not ignore the snakes, gerbils, ferrets, parrots, turtles, rabbits, iguanas, and even wolves (etc.) that some people have as pets.

So tell us about references to pets in philosophical works, to philosophical work about pets, examples and thought experiments featuring pets, and so on. And sure, share a photo of your pet (to do so, click the image icon in the bottom right corner of the comment box). Here’s mine:


One aspect of National Pet Day is to encourage pet adoption. You can find a local organization from which to adopt a pet here.

Happy National Pet Day, philosofriends!

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Nicolas Delon
Nicolas Delon
1 year ago

There’s a ton of good work on companion animals in animal ethics, too much to list here, so I’ll indulge in a shameless plug for this just published volume on the ethics of animal shelters, edited by Valéry Giroux, Angie Pepper, and Kristin Voigt:

As the saying goes, adopt, don’t shop.

Here are my two rescue kitties

Patrick S. O'Donnell
Reply to  Nicolas Delon
1 year ago

Thanks for notice of that volume, as I will add it to this compilation: Animals: Ethics, Rights & Law—A Transdisciplinary Bibliography

Michael Kremer
1 year ago

Julia Tanney, “Rational Animals,” opens with a detailed description of interactions with her dogs, who figure prominently in her argument.

Joel Walmsley
1 year ago

Is Cosmo a whippet or greyhound? Myles na gCopaleen and Ada Lovelace say hello.

Stephen Puryear
Reply to  Justin Weinberg
1 year ago

More hellos from greyhounds (Quinn and Leland).

Cora Diamond
1 year ago

Jenny Teichman’s piece for the British Academy about Elizabeth Anscombe is informative about the horses and ponies kept and ridden by Anscombe and Geach and their children. Apparently Anscombe claimed to have fallen off a horse standing still.

Cecil Burrow
Reply to  Cora Diamond
1 year ago

Well, Elizabeth would be Elizabeth! What a delightful story.

Cora Diamond
1 year ago

Rai Gaita’s fine book, The Philosopher’s Dog, should be read by anyone interested in philosophers and their animal associates, His remarks about his aging dog Gypsy are particularly moving.