Dr Steve Cooke

Associate Professor of Political Theory

School/Department: History Politics and International Relations, School of



Dr. Steve Cooke completed his undergraduate degree in Politics at the Open University. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Rights and a PhD in Politics from the University of Manchester. In 2012 Dr. Cooke was awarded the Society for Applied Philosophy’s 30th Anniversary Research Fellowship to research the use of violence in defence of non-human animals and the environment. His main area of research focuses on duties to non-human animals and the ethical status of law-breaking and political violence carried out for their sakes.


My primary research interests are in

  • moral and political duties regarding non-human animals
  • the ethics of different forms of protest and direct action.

Current research:

My current research projects cover: 

  • Moral progress towards justice for nonhuman animals. This research strand includes work on the ethics of lab-grown animal products and on moral psychology.

  • The ethics of animal rights activism. A key strand of this project explores the ethical challenges faced by those with pro-animal rights views in forming and maintaining friendships within societies largely hostile towards their moral commitments.

  • The ethics of animal agriculture. Included in this project is work on the concept animal welfare in agricultural science and the notion of care for nonhuman animals. This research explores how different conceptions of welfare serve to legitimise serious harms to nonhuman animals. 



Cooke, S. (2023) ‘Bearing witness, animal rights and the slaughterhouse vigil’, European Journal of Political Theory, OnlineFirst.

(2021) 'The Ethics of Touch and the Importance of Nonhuman Relationships in Animal Agriculture', Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 34:12.

(2021) 'Cosmopolitan Disobedience', The Journal of International Political Theory, 17:3, pp.222-239.

(2019) ‘Betraying Animals’, The Journal of Ethics, 23:2, pp.183-200.

With Andrew Futter (2017) 'Democracy verses Deterrence: Nuclear Weapons and Political Integrity', Politics, 38:4 pp.500-513.

(2017) 'Imagined Utopias: Animal Rights and the Moral Imagination', Journal of Political Philosophy, 25:4, pp.e1-18.

(2017) ‘Animal Kingdoms: on habitat rights for wild animals’, Environmental Values, 26:1, pp.53-72.

(2016) 'Understanding Animal Liberation', in Garner, R. and O'Sullivan, S. (eds) The Political Turn in Animal Ethics, London and New York: Rowman & Littlefield International.

with Alasdair Cochrane (2016) '""Humane Intervention"": the international protection of animal rights' Global Ethics, 12:1, pp.106-121.

(2014) ‘Perpetual Strangers: Animals and the Cosmopolitan Right’ Political Studies 62:4 pp.930-944.

(2013) ‘Animal Rights and Environmental Terrorism’ Journal of Terrorism Research 4:2 pp.26-36.

(2011) ‘Duties to Companion Animals’, Res Publica, 17:3, pp.261-274.


I am interested in supervising PhD topics in any of the following areas:

  • Animal rights/animal ethics
  • Ethics of activism and protest
  • Philosophy of veganism
  • Political philosophy in the broad analytic tradition

I presently supervise the following PhD students:

  • Nick Schenk 'The moral right to citizenship: a normative theory of just membership for non-citizen stateless persons'
  • Susana Pickett 'The Moral Theory and Practice of Veganism’
  • Thomas Dowling 'Securitisation Theory from Copenhagen and Paris to Naypyidaw: An Investigation into the Undersecuritisation of Environmental Security in Myanmar Under the National League for Democracy'
  • Will Gildea 'Animal Rights and the Welfare they Protect'


I convene the following undergraduate political philosophy modules: 

  • PL1011: Political Concepts
  • PL2027: Contemporary Political Philosophy: theories of justice 
  • PL3155: Animals and the Environment

I also teach on:

  • PL7095: Global Ethics in Practice (MA) (convenor)
  • PL1019: Introduction to Politics

My semester 2, 2023-24 Feedback and Support hours are:

  • Tuesday 1-2 p.m., ATT903
  • Thursday 1-2 p.m., ATT903

Press and media

Contact me for expertise in:

  • Animal rights
  • Animal ethics
  • Ethics of protest
  • Direct action
  • Veganism
  • Animal welfare.




During Summer 2024 I will be based in the University of Basel, Switzerland as a senior fellow of the Forum Basiliense centre for interdisciplinary dialogue, where I will be working with Dr. Angela Martin on the project 'Animal Liberation and Humans’ Freedom in Liberal Societies'. 

Media coverage


Selected blogs, media appearances, podcasts, etc.:



  • PhD (Politics), University of Manchester
  • MA (Human Rights), University of Manchester
  • BA (Hons) Open, The Open University
  • Diploma in Politics and Government, The Open University
  • Diploma in Combined Studies, University of Wolverhampton
  • Fellow of Higher Education Academy

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