The Oxford Group is the name given to an informal group of young academics who lived in Oxford in the 1970s who became vegetarians and explored animal ethics. The Oxford Group is generally recognized as initiating the philosophical foundation to the contemporary debate about our ethical relationship with other animals. The Oxford Group is an important but little-known historical development in animal ethics and the animal rights movement.
The Oxford Group included Stanley and Roslind Godlovitch, Richard and Mary Keshen, Peter and Renata Singer, and John Harris. Their discussions led to the publication of Animals, Men, and Morals: An Enquiry into the Maltreatment of Non-Humans edited by Harris and the Godlovitches (London: Victor Gollancz, 1971). Several key players at that time also contributed to this anthology, including the novelist Brigid Brophy whose essay, “The Rights of Animals”, published in The Sunday Times (October 10, 1965) I consider to be the beginning of the contemporary animal rights movement. Other notable contributors included Ruth Harrison, author, Animal Machines (London: Vincent Stuart, 1964) and Richard D. Ryder, author, Victims of Science: The Use of Animals in Research (London: Davis-Poynter, 1975). Peter Singer’s review of Animals, Men, and Morals called “Animal Liberation” in The New York Review of Books published on April 5, 1973, subsequently led to the publication of his celebrated book with the same name in 1975.