Charles R. Magel
Charles Russell Magel

(1920-06-03)June 3, 1920
DiedMarch 22, 2014(2014-03-22) (aged 93)
Alma mater
Occupation(s)Philosopher, animal rights activist, bibliographer
EraContemporary philosophy
InstitutionsMoorhead State University
ThesisAn Analysis of Kierkegaard's Philosophic Categories (1960)
Main interests

Charles Russell Magel (June 3, 1920 – March 22, 2014) was an American philosopher, animal rights activist and bibliographer. He was professor emeritus of Philosophy and Ethics at Moorhead State University.

Early life

Charles Russell Magel was born on June 3, 1920, in Burlington, Iowa,[1] where he grew up on a 150-acre farm with eight siblings. He studied electrical engineering at Iowa State College, going on to study at Northwestern University for three years.[2]

After graduation, he worked as a night clerk at a hotel and served for five years in the US Naval Reserve during the Second World War.[2] In 1950, inspired by Albert Schweitzer's autobiography Out of My Life and Thought, Magel enrolled in graduate school at the University of Minnesota to study philosophy.[2]

Magel submitted his dissertation, An Analysis of Kierkegaard's Philosophic Categories in 1960.[3] In 1962, he initiated a philosophy program at Moorhead State University.[2]


After reading Peter Singer's Animal Liberation and Tom Regan's "The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism", in 1975, Magel became a vegetarian and introduced an animal rights course onto the philosophy curriculum, making it one of the first university courses completely focused on the topic.[2] He was considered to be a pioneer of applied ethics.[4]

He was an outspoken opponent of animal testing, once stating: "Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: 'Because the animals are like us.' Ask the experimenters why it is morally okay to experiment on animals, and the answer is: 'Because the animals are not like us.' Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction."[5]

In the 1980 edition of Henry S. Salt's Animals' Rights Considered in Relation to Social Progress, edited by Peter Singer, Magel updated Salt's original bibliography.[6] In 1981, Magel published A Bibliography on Animal Rights and Related Matters lists over 3,200 works.[7] He retired from teaching in 1985.[2] In 1989, Magel authored Keyguide to Information Sources in Animal Rights a bibliography of works dealing with animal rights. It was positively reviewed as an "outstanding resource that many academic libraries will want to acquire."[8] Another review described it as a "carefully crafted and scholarly overview to the literature and philosophy of the animal rights movement."[9]

In 1992, Magel published a new edition of J. Howard Moore's The Universal Kinship, including a biographical essay of Moore.[10] In 1997, Magel published a new edition of Lewis Gompertz's Moral Inquiries on the Situation of Man and of Brutes.[11]


Magel died on March 22, 2014;[1] he left Moorhead State University $800,000 to establish the Charles R. Magel Endowment Fund.[12]

Selected publications



See also


  1. ^ a b "Recent death: Charles Magel". Minnesota State University Moorhead. 2014-03-27. Retrieved 2020-04-06.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Magel, Charles (1988-10-01). "Journey From Iowa Farm Boy to Animal Rights Bibliographer". Between the Species. 4 (4). doi:10.15368/bts.1988v4n4.14.
  3. ^ Magel, Charles R. (1960). An Analysis of Kierkegaard's Philosophic Categories (PhD thesis). University of Minnesota.
  4. ^ Glass-Moore, Adrian (2014-06-26). "Late MSUM professor donates $800,000 to school for scholarships". INFORUM. Archived from the original on 2021-11-29. Retrieved 2021-11-29.
  5. ^ Kemmerer, Lisa, ed. (2015). Speaking Up for Animals: An Anthology of Women's Voices. Abingdon: Routledge. p. 151. ISBN 978-1317251644.
  6. ^ Clark, Stephen (January 1983). "Animals' Rights Considered in Relation to Social Progress". The Philosophical Quarterly. 33 (130): 98. doi:10.2307/2219213. JSTOR 2219213.
  7. ^ Nash, Roderick Frazier (1989). The Rights of Nature: A History of Environmental Ethics. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press. p. 273. ISBN 978-0299118433.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ Nyberg, Cheryl Rae. (1990). Reviewed Work: Keyguide to Information Sources in Animal Rights by Charles R. Magel. Reference and User Services Quarterly 29 (3): 444-446.
  9. ^ Watstein, Sarah Barbara. (1991). Outstanding Reference Sources: A 1991 Selection of Recent Titles. American Libraries 22 (5): 393-439.
  10. ^ Helstosky, Carol, ed. (2014). The Routledge History of Food. Abingdon: Routledge. p. 198. ISBN 978-1317621133.
  11. ^ Gompertz, Lewis (1997). Magel, Charles (ed.). Moral Inquiries on the Situation of Man and of Brutes. Mellen Animal Rights Library Series. Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press. ISBN 978-0773487222.
  12. ^ "Philosophy professor emeritus Charles Magel donates $800,000 to MSUM". Minnesota State University Moorhead. 2014-06-25. Retrieved 2020-04-06.