This is great news! Animal Ethics has just launched its website. And the best part of it is that actually the site is not to remain like this, but will be further developed. In fact a brand new site will be up soon, in March.
Animal Ethics aims at doing research and outreach work aimed at addressing speciesism, and also at providing resources for other organizations and individuals concerned about issues in animal ethics, animal sentience and the situation of nonhuman animals.
Don’t hesitate to visit it and to get in touch if you’re interested in volunteering.
In a few days I’ll be giving a couple of talks on antispeciesism in Switzerland and Portugal, these are the dates of the events: Sigue leyendo “Talks on antispeciesism in Switzerland and Portugal”
In other entries in this blog, such as this one or this one I have pointed out that the key concept in animal ethics is that of speciesism, and that speciesism is the discrimination of those who do not belong to a certain species. But what is discrimination? Sigue leyendo “A (quite complex, I must confess) definition of discrimination”
On February I’ll be giving some talks in Italy on antispeciesism and egalitarianism. Here’s the info of the events:
- 7 February, 15:00, Sede Universitaria di Sant’Agostino, Sagrestia, Università degli Studi di Bergamo: “La teoria egualitarista e gli animali” (“Egalitarian theory and animals”). Click here for more information on this event.
- 8 February , 19:30, Circolo No Cage, via Borgovalsugana 198, Prato: “La teoria egualitarista e gli animali”. More information here.
- 9 February, 21:30, Scale di Docciola, Teatro di Nascosto, Volterra More information on this event here.
- 13 February, 16:00, Facoltà di Filosofia, Villa Mirafiori, Università La Sapienza, Roma: “Gli antispecismi in discussione” (“A discussion of different antispeciesist approaches”). I will speak together with Leonardo Caffo and Marco Maurizi. The event is organized by Per Animalia Veritas. More information on this event here.
Thanks to all the other people who have made this possible, I’ll see you soon!
Two positions in Animal Studies and Animal Ethics have been recently announced. One is a PhD position in Texas, the other one is a Postdoctoral one in Ontario. If you’re planning to apply you should hurry up! Here’s the info: Sigue leyendo “Two positions offered in Animal Studies and Animal Ethics”
In a previous post, I presented an example of the ways in which many humans lack any concern for nonhuman animals suffering and dying for natural reasons. In this post I’m going to present some more examples of such speciesist attitudes. I won’t describe them, but post some videos showing this attitude displayed. To be honest, I find them just horrible, but my intention in showing them here is, of course, not just to claim they are terrible to watch. Rather, I’d like to promote some reflection on the question of whether we should be indifferent to the suffering of wild animals, even when it’s due to natural causes.
There are many other similar videos on the internet. If we find them repugnant, I think we have to reject the celebration of predation and the disturbing disregard for the plight of wild animals they imply.
In this video, we can see how another person is thrilled about how a centipede he has as a pet kills a mouse he puts in his or her cage.
And in this other one, we can see the same attitude with a mouse that is killed to feed a carnivorous plant (that is not even a sentient being).
In this other video, a couple of guys send a wasp to death by throwing it to a spider net just to see how the spider captures and kills this insect. This animal moves and twists as the spider is eating her body alive, while the guys comment how great that situation is.
I hope these gruesome images will encourage us to question the attitude of celebration of predation that is so common nowadays.
To those interested in this, some texts that question this attitude and reflect on the ethics of our position towards many natural processes can be seen in this list that was published before in this blog. One of the papers that deals with this question is this one. Luckily, there is a growing number of people now concerned with this issue, as one can see in this recently created fb page.
Les Cahiers antispécistes is in my view one of the best journals all around the world in the field of animal ethics and speciesism. I can’t really tell for how many years I’ve been a follower of Les Cahiers, and I can say that some of the papers published there are among the most interesting literature on the issue that I’ve found online.
Due to this, I’m very honored that they’ve published there the translation into French of this paper “The Ethics of the Ecology of Fear against the Nonspeciesist Paradigm: A Shift in the Aims of Intervention in Nature“, which appeared initially in the journal Between the Species. You can read and download the paper here:
Éthique de l’écologie de la peur versus paradigme antispéciste : Changer les objectifs des interventions dans la nature
The issue where the article appeared (in pp. 46-61), together with other very interesting papers, can be downloaded as a pdf here:
Les Cahiers antispécistes, n. 35, nov. 2012
This has been possible due to the fantastic work of Marceline Pauly who translated the paper and to whom I’m very grateful due to this.
The suffering and death of animals in nature is an important question in animal ethics. This is a list with several papers and books that have addressed this question. Some of them are in favor of aiding animals in need of help in the wild, while others reject that we should do anything for them. I’ll try to update this list every now and then as new works are published. I hope this will be useful to those interested in this issue.
Publications in English on wild animal suffering and intervention
I’ll be giving a couple of talks in Switzerland in a few days. The first one will be in Bern, on August the 5th. Its title will be: “Different Strategies of the Animal Rights Movement”, and it will be organized by the organization Tier Im Fokus. You have more information on the event here.
The second one will be in Zurich on the 6th, at the University of Zurich, and its title will be: “If speciesism is untenable, should we reduce wild animal suffering too?”. There is more information on the event here.
I want to thank Tier Im Fokus, the University of Zurich and in particular Adriano Mannino, Lukas Gloor and Klaus Petrus for organizing these events.
I have published a paper which aims at showing the way in which population dynamics increase to shocking levels the suffering and premature death that there is in nature.
Many people think that animal ethics entails respect for natural processes, on the assumption that nonhuman animals are able to live relatively easy and happy lives in the wild. Unfortunately, this assumption is wrong. The reason has to do with population dynamics. The most widespread reproductive strategy in nature is called r-selection. This strategy entails that the overwhelming majority of nonhuman animals die shortly after they come into existence, and they do so in painful ways. They starve or are eaten alive, which means their suffering vastly outweighs their happiness. The amount of harm nonhuman animals endure due to this is just dreadful.
If we think that nonhuman animals are morally considerable individuals there is no way in which we can dismiss this. If there are ways in which we may help them and reduce such a tremendous amount of harm that occurs in nature, we should do it. There are many who may find this conclusion very counter-intuitive at first. However, would we reject it if instead of nonhuman animals, the victims of misery and early death were humans? Hardly so. This entails that this conclusion, even if counter-intuitive, can only be rejected from a speciesist and callous viewpoint which completely disregards the plight of all these animals.
You can download the paper here:
Debunking the Idyllic View of Natural Processes: Population Dynamics and Suffering in the Wild
The paper appeared in the journal Télos, vol. 17, 2010, 73–88, in its special issue on animal ethics. The published version of the paper can be downloaded here.
I’ll soon be giving three seminars at Lisbon, Oxford and Coventry on the question of the harms that nonhuman animals suffer due to natural causes. Many people are unaware of such harms. However, they are often terrible to nonhuman animals. I claim that in those cases in which we can help animals without causing a bigger harm it would be a very good thing to do it. This is just what most of us think in the case of human beings, so defending a different view for nonhuman animals, which would be harmful for them, is speciesist. Here’s the info of the seminars: Sigue leyendo “Seminars at Lisbon, Coventry and Oxford on the Ethics of Helping Animals Suffering in Nature”
On March 10th I will be visiting the UK to attend the conference Critical Perspectives on Animals in Society, which will take place at the University of Exeter. I’m looking forward to it! You can check the whole programme of the event here. So if you can attend this conference, don’t miss the opportunity.
Among other activists, representatives from Animal Equality will be there. I want to thank them since they are the ones who have encouraged and helped me to attend this conference, so thanks for the invite!
You can find below the abstract of the talk I will be giving at this conference:
Disregarding Sentient Beings: Speciesism and Environmentalism
The ethics of antispeciesist animal activism defends the consideration of all sentient beings. Environmentalism, instead, claims that what we should consider are ecosystemic relations and other natural entities, even if they aren’t sentient. For this reason, it approves of sacrificing sentient beings if it benefits environmental balances.
This has significant consequences that are very harmful for nonhuman animals. A clear example of this is the politics of “culling” wild animals that are considered “invasive” or too populous, as encouraged by the Sierra Club and many other groups. Other examples include the support given to “natural” forms of hunting by Greenpeace or the campaign the WWF has ran for years to promote massive animal experimentation to test potentially environmentally harmful chemicals.
Environmentalism also disregards the interests of nonhuman animals when they are in need of help. Environmentalism advocates aiding some animals in nature only when they belong to certain (environmentally interesting) species. But when other animals are involved, they oppose helping them, often claiming that doing so wouldn’t be “natural” (even though intervention to cull or save certain animals is not “natural” either). Antispeciesists disagree with this. Note that, although many people have idyllic views of how nonhuman animals fare in nature, the fact is that they endure severe hardships and often suffer and die in situations in which it might be feasible to help them. Antispeciesist concern for individual animals favours helping them in these situations if doing so doesn’t cause some greater harm to others.
Note that environmentalists don’t favour the massive killing of humans for the sake of biocenotic or ecosystemic processes. Neither do they reject helping humans in need of aid in nature even if that’s not “natural”. But they assume a completely different perspective when nonhuman animals are affected. This is due to their speciesist viewpoint.
Good news for those interested in doing research in animal ethics. The print editions of the journal Between the Species, which appeared between 1985 and 1996, are now available online, hosted by California Polytechnic State University (and thanks to the work of the journal’s current editor, Joe Lynch). You can download them from here: Between the Species
Moreover, they have also uploaded the issues of the journal which anteceded Between the Species, that is, Ethics and Animals, published between 1980 and 1984. As far as I know, that was the first journal ever published on ethics and animals (so the journal’s name is certainly germane). You can download them from here: Ethics and Animals
In a previous post, I presented an article by ethicist Jeff McMahan on the issue of natural harms and predation. In it, McMahan argued that the fact that nonhuman animals suffer and die in nature is a very important issue that deserves our attention. I agree.
Most people’s attitude towards natural evils, and in particular predation, is a rather simplistic one. In fact, most people tend to see these evils as something good. In this post, I want to present an example of this attitude. It’s something we can see very clearly in this loathsome video:
This ghastly attitude of celebration of predation and other natural processes which means death and suffering for animals is at odds with the moral consideration of their interests.
There is a widespread view of nature as a pristine idyllic place in which animals live in paradisiacal conditions. This, unfortunately, is wrong. The scene this video shows is everyday life in nature.
We should definitely go beyond the disgusting attitude of celebration of animal suffering and death in nature displayed in this video. In order to do that, we should start by acknowledging that animals suffer terribly and die in many different ways in nature. There is no reason to keep this fact hidden. It is something we should be able to consider. Insofar as we are concerned with the interests of sentient beings, we should not dismiss this issue.
In fact, we should be able to change our view of natural processes and our attitude toward it. I really think that this is an issue we should think about.
As I’ve previously written in this blog, Fuente Vegana, which is a great site about veganism and antispeciesism in Spanish, has published an interview with me in their blog. Fuente Vegana has also translated this interview into German. You can read it here:
Interview for Fuente Vegana (German)
You can also read the original interview in Spanish here, and in English here.
Some months ago, ethicist Jeff McMahan published an interesting piece on predation in the NY Times with the title “The Meat Eaters”.
The comments on the paper in the Times were terribly poor and simplistic (many of them by people who had clearly not read the paper, or had not really understood the view presented in it). However, a very interesting discussion on the paper took place at the web of the On the Human project.
McMahan has also written a response in the Times in which he explains in more detail the kind of view he has been arguing for. Sigue leyendo “McMahan on natural evils”
Fuente Vegana is a great site about veganism and antispeciesism in Spanish. In 2009 they published an interview with me there. The questions they made were, in my view, very interesting and challenging. Fuente Vegana has translated this interview into English. You can read it here:
Interview for Fuente Vegana (English)
You can also read the original interview in Spanish here.
The Colorado State University Philosophy Department will be hosting an Animal Ethics Graduate Student Conference in 2011. The conference title will be “Ignored Perspectives in Animal Ethics”. Note it is not a conference on animal rights or speciesism, all kinds of views regarding the use of nonhuman animals may be presented there. Papers can be sent before February 15, 2011. You can find more information here:
Call for Papers – 2011 Animal Ethics Graduate Student Conference