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William Gildea

Philosophy, University of Warwick

Thesis title:

Animal Rights and the Welfare They Protect

My research is in moral and political philosophy. Its central themes include moral rights, equality, and animal ethics.

My PhD thesis asks which psychological capacities ground moral rights, and what this means for the equality of human beings and our relations with animals.

The core puzzle addressed by the thesis stems from our assumption that persons have a higher moral status than non-human animals because of our more developed psychological capacities. This is in tension with the idea that the moral rights possessed by persons are equal in strength, even though persons possess psychological capacities to differing degrees. My thesis aims to develop a new account of the relation between moral rights and psychological capacities, which can resolve our intuitive judgements in a theoretically attractive way.

This account will then be leveraged to help us to answer applied questions in animal ethics, including those concerning meat production and animal suffering in the wild.

Research Area

  • Philosophy


As well as presenting at graduate conferences, I have presented my work at the following academic conferences.

  • Humans and Other Animals Conference, Carlow, Ireland (2017)
  • Eating Animals Conference, Centre for Practical Normatvity, University of Kent (2017)
  • The Ethics of Fur, Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, University of Oxford (2017).


I have a B.Phil. in Philosophy from the University of Oxford, and a BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from the University of Warwick. Before returning to Warwick, I worked in food policy for an NGO.