Keywords: Animal Studies; Animal Rights; Animal Welfare; Political History; Utilitarianism.
The aim of the essay is to show how philosophical, juridical and socio-political disciplines have dealt with the political dimension of the relationship between man and animal. Whereas from Jeremy Bentham onward contemporary philosophy has constantly questioned the ontological divide between them, juridical thought has progressively raised the issue of animal rights, suggesting that animals should be considered as subjects entitled to fundamental rights. More recently, Anglo-Saxon historiography has increasingly focused on the changes produced in the contemporary age by the coexistence between man and animal on the domestic and social habits as well as on the institutional and political level. In this sense, the essay solicits Italian historians to address this issue in order to shed new light on Italy's social, cultural and political history.