A not so clear relation: Animal Agency and Morality

Animal Agency and Morality

IS “MORAL AGENCY” A VALID CRITERION FOR CLASSIFYING DIFFERENT FACETS OF ANIMALITY?

The idea of “moral agency” resumes similar anthropocentric allocations in terms of biological and cultural demarkers, such as the conservative (species-hierarchical) hypotheses about Nonhumans have done.

The construction of “morality” as an act, should however ideally draw on non-anthropocentric perspectivic angles, to enable itself to touch upon the grounds of the large spectrum of co-existential modalities.

Questions:

1.) Which features, abilities and attributes are typically assumed as making up “animal agency” and, respectively, as typically making up “not-animal-agency”?

2.) On which criterions do these classifications base?

3.) What would a map of “animal agency” look like from a nonanthopocentric perspective?

TIERAUTONOMIE / Gruppe Messel

Mitgefühl als bedingter Gerechtigkeitsaspekt

Überlegung zu: Pazifismus

Zum Schutz von Leben hat Mitgefühl erst dann einen effektiven Sinn, wenn die Gerechtigkeit als Inhalt und Ziel dabei nicht aus den Augen verloren wird.

(HUMANITY) Im rechtlich durch Menschenrechtskonventionen abgesichterten Bereich, braucht das sensible Gleichgewicht des „Friedens“ eine gewisse Absicherung durch Maßnahmen, die „schützende Gewalt“ nicht immer und nicht gänzlich ausschließen.

(ANIMALITY) Im Falle oppressiver Gewalt gegen Nichtmenschen erwarten wir von Menschen die Freiwilligkeit und appellieren an das Mitgefühl, weil wir die Nichtmenschen in einer speziesistischen Gesellschaft und Welt gegenwärtig auf keiner gesellschaftlich und politisch konstituierten rechtlichen Grundlage schützen können.

Mitgefühl allein reicht in der Konfrontation mit nakter Gewalt aber in keiner Form aus.

Die einzige Grundlage, die eine Chance auf das Recht des Schutzes vor Gewalt (systemischer oder individueller Natur) bietet, ist die grundlegende Einforderung von Gerechtigkeit.

(Pazifismus im Kontext mit‚Humanity’ und ‚Animality’ als politisch definitorische Bereiche.)

TIERAUTONOMIE / Gruppe Messel

What is Animality, and what it isn’t

You are at risk of engaging in rhetorical branding if:

… ANIMALITY equals:

pigeonholing nonhuman animal otherness in (philosophical, religious, scientific, biologistic, aesthetic, anthropologic) terms of excluding zoopolitical spaces of animal autonomy.

… and if HUMANITY amounts to:

“we”, the “Homo sapiens”.

A new discourse needs fresh approaches – not just a new labelling system for an ongoing current of stable fallacies.

 

When speciesism feeds speciesism, and why AR activists should not fall for unproductive rhetorical twists

When speciesism feeds speciesism, and why AR activists should not fall for unproductive rhetorical twists.

From a recent discussion / Gruppe Messel

This Text as a PDF (link opens in a new window)

Two debates, the same problem with speciesist rhetorics blurring out a reasonable, coherent discourse.

A.)   The (unfortunately) highly controversial debate about Halal and Kosher slaughter methods.

B.)   The ‘humane meat’ marketing campaigns, using Animal Welfare as the as a vehicle for their sales boosting.

In both these speciesist segments – the one religious, the other one more plain-culturally based – you face an upholding of speciesist ideological tenets, additionally to the front-fight of defending a speciesist practice.

Why are we discussing these two examples of speciesist praxes?

Pro-arguments defending these two praxes, that are finding their basis in cultural reception, have permeated the AR debate to some extent on outreach strategies in regards to multiculturalism and culture – assuming “traditions” to be fixed societal phenomena/entities, immune to continuous ethical historical change.

—-

The Problem of rhetorical twists permeating the AR discussion in the case of A.):

The basic argument from an AR side defending religious slaughter methods, as no less “cruel” than pre-stun methods, goes that Nonhumans suffer either way, conditions in slaughterhouses might even be worse, at least as bad, and that all slaughter must stop.

Usually missed in this string of argumentation is a more detailed critique why e.g. slaughterhouses such as those designed by Temple Grandin are for example “as bad” as religious slaughter methods: So called “humane” slaughter methods have to be criticized and critically examined in their own respect.

The argument against the relativization of ‘different speciesist practices’ as in the case A.) from an AR position can be:

Why are we fighting to be able to film abuse in factory farms, when in the end of the day the comparably more abusive form of “handling” does not make any difference at all? After all we are always trying to alleviate any comparably more “extreme” forms of suffering in a situation where we can’t stop speciesism overnight. We do that, alongside with campaigning for veganism!

The trap with religious animal killing practices is that the degree to which killing becomes a deed of “good” is mostly being overlooked let alone critically discussed. Can you really expect strict believers to end killing Nonhumans, if it’s on behalf of an “almighty God” who decrees you to do so?

From an AR point of view we would say that no religion/religious tradition/belief whatsoever must come before either Animal Rights or Human Rights, equally.

—-

The Problem of rhetorical twists permeating the AR discussion in the case of B.):

Anecdotal example: A German animal advocacy group advertises for “humane meat” with the slogan: “For a life before becoming meat” (http://www.provieh.de/downloads_provieh/01_ki_schweine.pdf, 5/11/14), the same slogan is being used by the Austrian Green Party (http://www.gruene.at/europa/2-welle,5/11/14).

The problem being that cultural tenets of speciesism are not questioned, nor what strategies are effective at what given context. Strategies and analyses seem to fall short to a short-term mass-movement idea and behaviour within the AR community.

– There is no clear line drawn towards the impacts of what comes along as cultural heritage.

– Activists fight against the symptoms, not the cultural roots of speciesist rethorics that enables speciesist practices to be culturally active.

On one hand “humane slaughter” advocacy has moved “down”, in terms of Animal Advocacy ideals, to some of the “stricter” Animal Welfare organizations, like the CIWF with for example their recent campaign “Better-Chicken.org”: it seems that such welfarist pro “humane meat” campaigns throw the baby out of with the bathwater, since instead of trying to seek alleviating suffering with the goal of ending speciesism overall as a target, they are of course prolonging speciesist culture.

However, AR advocates who do distance themselves from such campaigns, seem to fail to address (analytically and strategically) how important it is to target the functionality of speciesism and its rhetoric in the plain culturally-based sense.

– AR places its critique more at the sociological and the psychological level, not as much on the anthropological and cultural level, and when at least not with a distanced view.

– A question would be e.g.: How does the argument “I only buy organic humanely slaughtered meat” set in? Why is it accepted in society seen from a cultural / anthropological critical perspective?

This type of question has to be contextualized with how a culture works, and how the individual takes a role within this cultural setting for example.

 

Besitznahme durch Abwertung und Definition. Beraubung tierlicher Autonomie.

Wenn Nichtmenschen nicht autonom wären, und nur der Mensch es wäre, wann in der Evolution und womit hätte diese menschliche Autonomie dann angesetzt, und warum sollte tierliches Handeln und Denken nicht als vom Menschen und seiner Objektivitätswahrnehmung autonom anerkannt werden?

„Seinen eigenen Gesetzen folgend / early 17th cent.: from Greek autonomia, from autonomos ‘having its own laws,’ fromautos ‘self’ + nomos ‘law.’“ – Zoe Autonomos

Besitznahme durch Abwertung und Definition. Beraubung tierlicher Autonomie.

(Fragment)

Wir sprechen eher den Tieren ihre tierliche evolutionäre Autonomie ab, statt dass wir an totalitäre Strukturen in der Menschheit im Bezug auf Nichtmenschen und die natürliche Umwelt glauben. Unser Blick auf Nichtmenschen und die „Natur“ ist in einer Art verstellt, dass unsere Abwertungen vor uns selber akzeptabel erscheinen.

Der Missstand der Ungerechtigkeit ist, dass wir versuchen die tierliche Autonomie zu zerstören (physische Eingriffe und Maßnahmen) und mittels Speziesismus (geistig ideologisch) zu unterminieren.

„Besitz“ ist die Folge der Absprache tierlicher Autonomie.

„Tierverteidiger“ die für die physische Unversehrtheit von Nichtmenschen plädieren, den Nichtmenschen aber weiterhin ihre eigene tierliche Autonimie (vom Menschen und an und für sich) absprechen, betreiben eine unbewusste radikale Form des Anthropozentrismus und des Speziesismus.

Wir verbinden den Würdebegriff mit der Fähigkeit eines eigenen, unabhängigen Daseins (Autonomie).

Durch speziesistische Kunstgriffe bereiten wir den geistigen Boden in einer Gesellschaft vor, um den Besitzstatus eines Lebewesens zu legitimieren und als vertretbar erscheinen zu lassen.

Was ist unserem allgemeinen Verständnis nach Autonomie, siehe z.B. Wikipedia (für den vielleicht breitesten Allgemeinplatz) http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomie?

Wenn Nichtmenschen etwas haben – „the wild and tamed beast“ – dann ist es Autonomie. Sie leben „von Natur aus“ in der Natur autonom – wenn wir sie nicht ihrer Freiheit berauben. Wir behaupten, Nichtmenschen seien Instinktbestimmt, und genau da setzt die Besitznahme durch arbitäre Abwertungsmechanismen ein: Wir machen uns Tiere nutzbar und „Untertan“, indem wir sie ihrer Existenzautonomie mit der Behauptung des Instinktverhaltens (kausaltiätsbestimmtes Verhalten) zu berauben versuchen.

Die Abhängigkeit von Lebensnotwendigkeiten als Instinktgeleitetheit zu interpretieren, ist eine Form der Minderbewertung der Angreifbarheit, der Verletzlichkeit und Bedingtkeit des Lebens – jedes Lebens. Jedes Lebewesen ist abhängig und bedingt, aber gleichzeitig auch autonom. Autonomie ist der zarte Keim der Verletzlichkeit tierlicher und menschliche Würde … .

Da ein Tier autonom handelt und denkt, ist es autotom. Der Vesuch der Eingrenzung tierlichen Denkens in anthopozentrisch definierte Parameter, ist eine Besitznahme durch die definitorische Interpretation tierlichen Denkens und Handelns.

Tierautonomie – tierliche Autonomie; ein paar eklektisch ausgewählte interessante Aspekte

Animal Autonomy:

In Veterenary Care:

Here I would simply suggest that “animal autonomy” is worthy of careful attention from philosophers and scientists and veterinarians. Animals are self-governing and make meaningful choices, in ways very similar to humans. As with our fellow humans, we should strive to understand and respect the preferences of other creatures. Research in ethology is continuing to explore how to understand animal preferences and how these preferences are expressed in observable behaviors. It is worth noting, too, that although the language of “autonomy” has not yet been strongly present in the veterinary literature, the concept has been important in the animal ethics literature more broadly. Tom Regan, for example, talked in his ground-breaking The Case for Animal Rights(1983) about animals as autonomous beings, with their own interests and desires. Regan even includes a very interesting discussion of what he calls “preference autonomy” and explores some of the ways in which autonomy in animals is different from autonomy in humans.

Animals and Autonomy. Can this vitally important ethical concept be meaningfully applied to animals? Jessica Pierce, Ph.D. in All Dogs Go to Heaven

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/all-dogs-go-heaven/201303/animals-and-autonomy

 

Animal Sanctitiy and Animal Sacrifice: How Post-Dawinian Fiction Treats Animal Victosm by Marian Scholtmeyer, Dissertation, 1989, pp. 57.

Animal Ethics:

Kantian ethics is normally not the place to look for an account of  direct moral obligations towards animals, as Kant claimed that we only owe animals indirect moral duties, out of respect towards the rest of  humanity. In chapter four, I consider modern reinterpretations of Kant’s arguments to provide support for the claim that animals should be  considered ends-in-themselves. I argue that despite the strength of these accounts, the concept of agency and selfhood that I support provides a better foundation for claiming animals as ends-in-themselves, and that respect for animal autonomy can be grounded on a Kantian argument for the respect of autonomy more broadly. I claim that in virtue of their agency and selfhood, animals should be considered ends-in-themselves, thereby including them in the moral community. My view is novel in that it includes agency, selfhood and autonomy as those features which make anyone, human or nonhuman, morally considerable.

Agency and Autonomy: A New Direction for Animal Ethics by Natalie Evans. Dissertation.

https://uwspace.uwaterloo.ca/bitstream/handle/10012/8158/evans_natalie.pdf?sequence=1

Animal Rights / Animal Liberation

How can I save an Animal today or stop these atrocities now? Even for just a few critters. Because that’s the context we so often miss. It’s about Animal autonomy, not about how the government turns on the people that care about the Animals. But while I’m on the subject, it’s nothing new!

Walter Bond, Green is the New Rage, http://supportwalter.org/SW/index.php/2011/06/24/green-is-the-new-rage/

Animal Caregiving

Kerulos Center Caring for the Caregiver  Project. The project’s overarching goal is to foster awareness and support for animal care organizations and caregiver wellbeing to help achieve the vision of a compassionate, ethical, trans-species society founded on mutual wellbeing.

http://kerulos.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Kerulos-Caring-for-Caregiver-Report-Final.pdf

Alle Links: 25. März 2014.

 

Animal Knowledge

Animal Knowledge

Palang LY

This text as a PDF (Link opens in a new window)

It’s astonishing, why are we willing to accept that the burden of proof lies with the nonhuman animals and their allies, to make clear who they are, when a human-centred society doesn’t even have the will and ability to see the full spectrum. Why do we, their allies, bow in to human methods of research on things that can’t be proven and that don’t have to be proven?

Their individual life’s dignity does not need to be proven; it needs to be acknowledged, without restrictive conditions.

What the AR community should learn is to claim the rights, the foundation of dignity, the freedom that really lies outside of paradigms that were (and are) installed to quite contrarily draw lines as aggressive borders.

We tie our human standards and insights on a.) language and b.) on our specific capacity to utilize nature, and we see both these things as qualifiers that are intertied: Language plus the capacity to utilize nature as a resource!

It never occurs to us that other beings could have a more sustainable and clearly wise concept of how to live on planet earth, that their ancestral relation over millions of years has given them insight on how to interact in other ways with nature and their natural environment.

We would deny that, because we don’t accept that nonhumans have concepts. We think concepts can only occur with certain qualifiers … , and we think that nature couldn’t have possibly taught nonhuman animal ancestors things they decidedly built their cultures on.

We think nonhuman animals don’t decide these things.

I could go on, but my point is that we as AR people err so bad, because we don’t want to take the stance that would make us jump in the cold water of radical new perspectives in terms of: de-humanfocusing and thus deconstructing sources we refer to as basis of knowledge about life.

We keep putting new wine into old bottles when we don’t come up with a new architecture of basic knowledge.

 

Speciesist narcissism

An introductory fragment: Many forms of speciesism.

Speciesist narcissism

A question of identity (human vs. animal) –
in which a human hides his/her factual individuality (i.e. human collectivism as a shield)
beneath the psychological and/or physical violence against animal dignity.

***

Are you aware about examples of speciesist narcissism?

Think of the fashion industry for instance, where in our speciesist dominated culture humans are most prone to display and pride themselves of a narcissistic self-representation in general.

Yet, can you think of photos, for example, where the narcissist aspect dominates a generally speciesist scene?

Who is on the photo and how? Contextualize the setting in terms of the objectified nonhuman/s, and on the other side both poses and perspectives the participating humans take in front and behind the camera.

Slides so far on the aspects of speciesism (see top navigation; new additions though will be appear in the category: ‘Aspects of Speciesism‘.)