Jessica Pierce

Jessica Pierce, Ph.D., Advisor

Jessica Pierce, Ph.D.Jessica Pierce is a bioethicist and writer. She has written extensively and broadly within the field of bioethics, beginning with an early interest in the interconnections between health care systems, environmental degradation, and health (The Ethics of Environmentally Sustainable Health Care). She helped nurture environmental bioethics into a recognized (though still marginalized) field of discourse within medical ethics. Over the past decade, her work has increasingly turned toward our relationship with animals. Her 2009 book Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals, written in collaboration with cognitive ethologist Marc Bekoff, builds a scientific case that nonhuman animals exhibit a broad range of prosocial behaviors, including empathy, cooperation, fairness.

Her 2012 book, The Last Walk: Reflections on Our Pets at the Ends of Their Lives, explores end-of-life care, dying, and euthanasia in the lives of our companion animals, weaving analysis together with a journal chronicling the decline and death of her beloved dog Odysseus. (She first discovered Eric Greene and the Green Pet-Burial Society during her research for The Last Walk, and was relieved to find mindfulness about the environmental and psychosocial implications of pet burial practices and products.)  Her newest book (forthcoming in early 2015) is entitled Run, Spot, Run: Confessions of a (Reformed) Pet Addict, and makes the case that the keeping of pets is, at best, morally ambiguous and, at worst, a moral nightmare. (Her interest in Family Spirals™ is deepening as she researches for Run Spot Run, exploring the vast literature in Human-Animal Bond studies  and considering the ambiguous place of animals within human families and communities). In all of her work, she questions some of the common tropes of human-animal interaction and challenges prevailing social attitudes and practices related to animals.

Jessica is Faculty Associate at the Center for Bioethics and Humanities, Anschutz Medical Campus of the University of Colorado. She holds a Master of Divinity (Harvard University) and a PhD in religious ethics (University of Virginia). She lives in a small mountain town in Colorado, with her husband, daughter, pointer mix, funny-looking and feisty rescue pup, and, she asserts, the coolest cat in the world. Jessica’s website is Follow her blog, “All Dogs Go To Heaven” on the Psychology Today website.

updated January 5, 2014

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