Bullfighting has always been controversial in the Spanish-speaking world. Strangely, most of the intellectual defenders of this ancient tradition have not been Hispanic themselves. In the twentieth century, the staunchest defender of bullfighting was Ernest Hemingway, an American. Yet, Hemingway was not a philosopher, and his defense of bullfighting relied more on emotion than on reason. The staunchest intellectual defender of bullfighting in the 21st century is a Frenchman, Francis Wolff. Unlike Hemingway, Wolff is a philosopher, and in a series of books and articles, he has attempted to make a philosophical defense of bullfighting, based on reasoned ethical arguments. Although these arguments are sometimes ingenious, they are for the most part flawed.
In 2011, Catalonia’s Parliament introduced a ban on bullfighting. Now, this has been overturned by Spain’s Constitutional Court. The rationale for the new ruling is that, in 2013, Spain declared bullfighting a national cultural heritage, and no local government has the power to ban festivities that are part of declared cultural heritage.