Jessica Pierce
Born (1965-10-21) October 21, 1965 (age 58)[1]
Alma materUniversity of Virginia
Main interests
Bioethics, environmental studies, animal studies, animal ethics, environmental ethics

Jessica Pierce (born October 21, 1965) is an American bioethicist, philosopher, and writer. She currently has a loose affiliation with the Center for Bioethics and Humanities, University of Colorado Denver, but is mostly independent, focussing on writing. Early in her career, her research primarily addressed ethical questions about healthcare and the environment. Since the 2000s, however, much of her work has focused on animal ethics. She has published twelve books, including multiple collaborations with the ecologist Marc Bekoff.


Pierce completed her Bachelor of Arts at Scripps College, before studying for a Master of Divinity at Divinity School of Harvard University. She then received a PhD in religious studies (specialising in religious ethics) at the University of Virginia.[2][3] In the late 1980s, Pierce became a "major advocate" of environmental sustainability in healthcare, epitomising (in the words of the philosopher Cristina Richie) a "'second generation' of environmental bioethicists", after a first generation epitomised by Van Rensselaer Potter.[4]

In 1993, Pierce briefly worked as an assistant professor in the Randolph-Macon Women's College Department of Religion. From 1993 to 2000, she was an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in the Humanities and Law section of the Department of Preventive and Societal Medicine.[2] Her first book, Environmentalism and the New Logic of Business, co-written with R. Edward Freeman and Richard H. Dodd, was published in 2000.[5]

Pierce was a visiting fellow at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Bioethics and Health Law from 1999 to 2000, and then, from 2001 to 2006, she lectured at the University of Colorado Boulder, working in departments focused respectively on philosophy, religious studies and environmental studies.[2] The Ethics of Environmentally Responsible Health Care, which Pierce cowrote with Andrew Jameton, was published in 2004,[6] and Pierce's case book Morality Play followed in 2005.[7]

After leaving Boulder in 2006, Pierce became affiliated with the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado Denver (later the Anschutz Medical Campus).[2][8] However, this connection is a loose one; she no longer teaches, and considers herself an "independent entity", focusing on writing instead of the administration and bureaucracy of university work.[9] She published Contemporary Bioethics, a reader co-edited with George Randals, in 2009.[10]

Having previously focused her research on human health, including her early research interests in the connections between health and the environment, Pierce began to focus her research on animals in the 2000s.[3] She co-authored Wild Justice with the ecologist and ethologist Marc Bekoff in 2010,[11] and two sole-authored books followed: The Last Walk in 2012[12] and Run, Spot, Run in 2016.[13] She subsequently collaborated with Bekoff on 2007's The Animals' Agenda,[14] which was published the same year as Pierce's second collection, Hospice and Palliative Care for Companion Animals, co-edited with Amir Shanan and Tamara Shearer.[15] Again writing with Bekoff, she published Unleashing Your Dog in 2019[16] and A Dog's World in 2021.[17] Her sole-authored monograph Who's a Good Dog? followed in 2023.[18]


In Environmentalism and the New Logic of Business, Freeman, Dodd, and Pierce argue that businesses should lead on environmental issues rather than merely meeting state-mandated standards.[5] In The Ethics of Environmentally Responsible Health Care, Pierce and Jameton explore the environmental impact of the health sector.[6]

Bekoff and Pierce argue in Wild Justice that animals display evidence of consciousness, cooperation, empathy, justice, and morality.[11] In The Animals' Agenda, Pierce's second book with Bekoff, the authors argue that the science of animal welfare should be replaced by a science of animal well-being.[14] In Unleashing Your Dog they argue that people who live with dogs need to become adept at seeing the world from dogs' point of view to give their dogs a good life.[16] In A Dog's World, the authors challenge assumptions about dogs by offering an extended thought experiment of a world in which dogs live without humans.[17]

The Last Walk explores the ethics of companion animal death.[9][12] Run, Spot, Run explores the ethical ambiguity of pet ownership in general,[13] while Who's a Good Dog? looks at the ethics of dog-human relationships.[18]

Selected bibliography

Marc Bekoff (pictured 2018), with whom Pierce has coauthored several books

Pierce has authored or co-authored over 50 articles in peer reviewed journals and chapters in scholarly edited collections.[19]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d Pierce, Jessica. "Curriculum vitae". Archived from the original on 22 July 2020.
  3. ^ a b Pierce, Jessica. "Welcome!". Archived from the original on 14 September 2016.
  4. ^ Richie, Cristina (2014). "A Brief History of Environmental Bioethics". Virtual Mentor. 16 (9): 749–52. doi:10.1001/virtualmentor.2014.16.9.mhst2-1409. PMID 25216316.
  5. ^ a b Discussions:
  6. ^ a b Discussions:
  7. ^ Pierce, Jessica (2005). Morality Play. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  8. ^ Pierce, Jessica. "Jessica Pierce". Retrieved 16 March 2023.
  9. ^ a b Cudworth, Erika, and Karen Shook (22 November 2012). "The Last Walk: Reflections on Our Pets at the End of Their Lives". Times Higher Education. Accessed 3 September 2016.
  10. ^ Discussions:
  11. ^ a b Discussions:
  12. ^ a b Discussions:
  13. ^ a b Discussions:
  14. ^ a b Discussions:
  15. ^ Discussions:
  16. ^ a b Discussions:
  17. ^ a b Discussions:
  18. ^ a b Discussions:
  19. ^ Pierce, Jessica. "Scholarly Articles & Book Chapters". Accessed 16 March 2023.