Facing Animals: A Relational, Other-Oriented Approach to Moral Standing
- 753 Downloads
In this essay we reflect critically on how animal ethics, and in particular thinking about moral standing, is currently configured. Starting from the work of two influential “analytic” thinkers in this field, Peter Singer and Tom Regan, we examine some basic assumptions shared by these positions and demonstrate their conceptual failings—ones that have, despite efforts to the contrary, the general effect of marginalizing and excluding others. Inspired by the so-called “continental” philosophical tradition (in particular Emmanuel Levinas, Martin Heidegger, and Jacques Derrida), we then argue that what is needed is a change in the rules of the game, a change of the question. We alter the (pre-) normative question from “What properties does the animal have?” to “What are the conditions under which an entity becomes a moral subject?” This leads us to consider the role of language, personal relations, and material-technological contexts. What is needed then in response to the moral standing problem, is not more of the same—yet another, more refined criterion and argumentation concerning moral standing, or a “final” rational argumentation that would be able to settle the animal question once and for all—but a turning or transformation in both our thinking about and our relations to animals, through language, through technology, and through the various place-ordering practices in which we participate.
KeywordsAnimal ethics Moral standing Levinas Moral language Technology Place
- Adams, C. J. (2010). The sexual politics of meat: A feminist–vegetarian critical theory. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.Google Scholar
- Austin, J. L. (1962). How to do things with words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Bentham, J. (1780). In J. H. Burns & H. L. Hart (Eds.), An introduction to the principles of morals and legislation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Braithwaite, V. (2010). Do fish feel pain?. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Churchland, P. M. (1999). Matter and consciousness (rev ed.). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- CMS (Chicago Manuel of Style). (2013). http://chicagomanualofstyle.org/qanda/data/faq/topics/Pronouns/faq0020.html.
- Coelho, S. (2013). Dolphins gain unprecedented protection in India. Deutsche Welle. http://dw.de/p/18dQV.
- Cohen, R. A. (2001). Ethics, exegesis, and philosophy: Interpretation after Levinas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- DeMello, M. (2012). Animals and society: An introduction to human–animal studies. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Derrida, J. (2005). Paper machine (R. Bowlby, Trans.). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Derrida, J. (2008). The animal that therefore I am (M.-L. Mallet, Ed., D. Wills, Trans.). New York: Fordham University Press.Google Scholar
- Descartes, R. (1637). Discourse on the method. Selected philosophical writings (J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, & D. Murdoch, Trans.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Gunkel, D. J. (2012). The machine question: Critical perspectives on AI, robots, and ethics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Hall, M. (2011). Plants as persons: A philosophical botany. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
- Haraway, D. (2008). When species meet. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
- Heidegger, M. (1927). Being and time (J. Stambaugh, Trans.). Albany, NY: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
- Heidegger, M. (1977). The question concerning technology. In The question concerning technology and other essays (W. Lovitt, Trans.). New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
- Heidegger, M. (1995). The fundamental concepts of metaphysics: World, finitude, solitude (W. McNeill & N. Walker, Trans.). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
- Heidegger, M. (1998). Pathmarks. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Korsgaard, C. (2007). Facing the animal you see in the mirror. Harvard Review of Philosophy, 16, 2–7.Google Scholar
- Levinas, E. (1969). Totality and infinity (A. Lingis, Trans.). Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press.Google Scholar
- Levinas, E. (1987). Collected philosophical papers (A. Lingis, Trans.). Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.Google Scholar
- Levinas, E. (1988). The paradox of morality: An interview with Emmanuel Levinas (A. Benjamin and T. Wright, Trans.). In R. Bernasconi & D. Wood (Eds.), The provocation of Levinas: Rethinking the other (pp. 168–180). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Marder, M. (2013). Plant-thinking: A philosophy of vegetal life. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Regan, T. (1983). The case for animal rights. Berkeley: The University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Singer, P. (1975). Animal liberation. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
- Torrance, S. (2013). Artificial consciousness and artificial ethics: Between realism and social relationism. Philosophy and Technology. doi: 10.1007/s13347-013-0136-5.