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

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.

 

Why speciesism is evil

Why speciesism is evil

Palang LY

We don’t need to discuss whether a person or group is evil in all aspects, when we want to evaluate if an act of speciesism (committed by a person or group) is evil and condemnable.

In general often people who commit any type of evil, do not seem to their social environment like they would hold an “evil” potential, meaning, that a person can have different aspects about them, or also purposely mask their not-so-good sides. Another thing to keep in mind is that every chapter of human history taught us, that what some might have felt as beneficial to them, was plain evil to others who were negatively affected by a “gain” of someone else.

Speciesism is a (specific) form of oppression – and as such it is evil:

A.) Assuming that speciesism was merely a historical accidence, would mean to deny that nonhuman animals could have ever been perceived as something else than “objects”, and with that as “objects of speciesism”. Acts of speciesism are conscious acts of violating other (animal) individuals. Nonhuman animals are not automatically only viewable as objects.

My position is, that our degrading views of nonhuman animals today and in our shared history (i.e. the arguments with which we mark the nonhuman animal world as less- or non-relevant), are kinds of attitudes based on a totalitarian layer that society continuously enacts and that is functioning by society’s willingness to accept this form of a system; we compel and force members of our society to adopt speciesist attitudes, that however we can step out of such a system and resist, like we can equally resist to take part in other forms of oppressive structures.

B.) To assume that speciesist acts could be done without any conscious form of evil will and behaviour, means that we rule out the quality of evil which we face in the given oppressive context that speciesism marks. Every “procedure” done, that violates the physical and mental integrity of a nonhuman animal individual (directly or indirectly), is a conscious act and an act of will – even when the human individual who commits this act, finds and is offered and taught excuses to rationalize his or her deeds as necessary or non-evil.

Speciesism is evil because it masks as being an acceptable form of viewing nonhuman animal others as:

ownable, definable, edible, usable, ignorable … as passive objects.

I do think that as an Animal Liberationist one is accountable to tell the facts about the forms of conscious human evil that we face in speciesist oppression.

“Joy” and “pain” are reductionary concepts about the rainbow shadedness of animal sentience

The independence of Animal Liberation

We – nonhuman animals and humans – understand the questions of LOVE and VIOLENCE. Whereby “joy” and “pain” are reductionary names for the “same” thing.

Fragment as a PDF (link opens in new window)

A liberation that depends on an approval by scientists? Or alternatively on a religious doctrine?

Sentience can’t be only fathomed by suffering or joy – it’s rainbow shaded.

Sensuality

The separation of sensuality and reason is a man-made one. And tied inasmuch to scientific shortsightedness as to the religiously driven degradation of the earthenly versus the notion of an elated human spirit.

Both anthropocentric paradigms – be they through the lens of objectivism that works within an anthropocentric framework, or the lens of an arbitrariness in the spiritual spheres – any severely anthropocentric paradigm, deconstructs the holistic body and mind connection … for reasons, obviously.

The problem lies with our constructs, and not with animal reality!

Painting: Spanish Dog by Farangis G. Yegane

 

Feminism, Speciesism, Anthropocentrism – and the need to rethink the sexism / speciesism analogy

Feminism, Speciesism, Anthropocentrism

Examples of female rhetorics of speciesism: Objectification of beings oppressed, animalesque figures made with wool / felt; Lesbianism and dead nonhumans and trophys as cultural heritage; Helplessness and helping as an act of public viewing, link 1, link 2; the daily randnomness of the gender / nonhuman animal speciesist contexts, women taking/being part … (all links acc. 16. July 2013)

Is a self-critical view on gender / being a woman / feminism necessary? What would speak against it? We know that in our daily lives we, as women, make decisions that touch on core grounds that turn the private / the personal into the political. As vegans we know how impactful our personal choices are, and as social beings we also know how hard it can be to draw a line between the social expectations that one tries to fit in (in order to find a job, to be liked and accepted, keep ones family together, and so forth).

Speciesism, as remote as it seems, is to be found at the same point where “my-choice-to-decide-otherwise” (or not) crosses just any implications of socialization that I feel are ethically unjustifiable. When I rant against sexism I might as well rant against an injustice that targets nonhumans, if I am a vegan anti-speciesist minded person.

Speciesism can be understood to work socially as an ideology, where people who are convinced of their degrading stance believe in a collectively held fiction that is assumed and agreed upon as objectivity, so that no rebuttal can take place on “rational grounds”.

Women do feel at home in this construct inasmuch as men do, on the large scale. Both 50 percent of humanity, male and female, believe so much in human superiority that they are willing to constitute part of a speciesist society by fulfilling their individual part in the fiction.

“Gender” defines itself from interaction within a group or society. Being oppressed as a woman doesn’t automatically mean that you can’t be oppressive towards nonhuman animals. Drawing an analogy between sexism (or genderism) and speciesism does not take account of the different reasons and histories why the victim gets oppressed in the first place – for what ends, and how exactly.

If we turn a blind eye on the gender specific functions of speciesism and anthropocentrism we might risk a loophole in our argumentation for our own rights defending nonhumans and for integral Animal Rights themselves.

Speciesism is a unique tragedy. The history of being classified as “animals” by humans, with all that entailed, as beings whose existence had been on earth aeons before humans evolved, can’t be compared to any other form of oppression by simple analogy. Being objectified as solely “animate”, being slaughterable, edible, huntable, vivisectable, being objectifiable and judged as “definable” in the first place constitutes an incomparable situation for the affected subject, and hints at a unique technique of injustice on behalf of the oppressive side that is being applied to this victimized group.

Comparisons between different forms of oppression are extensively helpless efforts.

Either we plainly name that natural sciences, religion, philosophy mass society can’t legitimately classify the beings we call “nonhuman animals”, or we stay stuck in our psychological accompliceship with the very hierarchical and oppressive “systems” we criticize so vehemently as what regards our own pains.

I don’t see an alternative.

Image  © 2013 @farangisyegane

Veganic plus Animal Sanctuaries plus Ethics

Palang LY

Veganic plus Animal Sanctuaries plus Ethics

There so far is no such thing as a “positive” veganic (which means: organic vegan agriculture) Animal Rights consciousness.

Not taking into consideration that nonhuman animals must be helped by all possible means, here looks to me like a form of speciesism might be lurking in the background, since if humans where in a comparable plight, anybody who would describe him-/herself as a non- misanthrope would help the humans in question.

What I am mainly interested in is:

Why doesn’t it occur to vegans and the veganic (vegan organic) movement, that humans and nonhuman animals can co-exist, can co-live without exploitation, as an option?

I have looked at various veganic projects, and as far as one can see, “animal rights” only plays a role in the way, that exploitation and usage of animals and animal products / fertilizer derived from animals is non-permitted, on ethical grounds, mainly. Hence, these people are VEGANS, and not just any people avoiding animal products: They avoid animal exploitation. That’s the Animal Rights part of the veganic movement.

But apart from that, the very nonhuman animals that we as VEGANS want to HELP, don’t come in or become visible or noticed as beings that we are willing to live together with, that we are willing to share the earth with. As if the soil and the forests were ours to use, ours to live on, ours to say what’s right to do with it (“it” … that is: nature).

Billions of animals

Of course the forceful exploitation of the reproductive system of animals has to stop. Of course any form of overpopulation is bad for anybody and this planet. But the lives, that didn’t chose to come into this world, the lives that just happen to find themselves here – we do have to ethically respect the fact that these individuals exist.

Sanctuaries and vegan farming should merge I believe! To cut a long “story” short and practical.

But back to veganic-ism as it is

There is the mention of using human manure and faeces for fertilization (apart from the much more promising sounding self-fertilizing gardening methods which exist in veganicism too of course). But if people are willing to use their own manure, as part of the biological process of vegan agriculture, can’t the idea of “the sanctuary” and the idea of a newly veganic option be created in peoples minds? People can tolerate their own manure somewhere, but not another (nonhuman) animal’s manure? I think we cannot say that it is speciesist and exploitative if both humans and nonhuman animals live together in a natural space without harming or exploiting or using each other.

We as vegans ought to LIVE together with the other animals on this planet, in a peaceful manner, in mixed communities. If we can’t develop a consciousness for that, we fail at creating a (more complete) positive ethic. It’s enormously tragic that we let the speciesist view of “animals, us and the world” win insofar, that this view manages to inspire us vegans not to willingly plan to live together with the so called farm animals in a vegan, caring manner, with a strong will to co-exist.

Are the only options we can chose from the one of degrading nonhuman animals or otherwise totally excluding them, and making them nonexistent in a (desired utopian) daily reality? No, really, because this planet is also an animals’ planet!

Ethics … To me the veganic movement makes itself look as if it creates and expresses a bifurcation in what veganism ideally should mean. As good at it looks now and as much as such farming practices are heading for the major part in a promising and important and ethically inevitable direction, the veganic code of ethics nevertheless ignores an important factor and that is, again, to include all animals in a life affirming way.

This fallacy in the veganic vegan understanding makes vegans overall look as if this movement was basically about clearing nonhuman animals in their positives – and as living facts and individual fates – simply out of our lives!

I think there is morally something going drastically wrong with us.

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

Würden Sie wegen Ihres Veganismus auch auf Gott und Glauben verzichten?

Palang LY

„Macht Euch die Erde untertan“ 1. Mose (1)

Würden Sie wegen Ihres Veganismus auch auf Gott und Glauben verzichten?

Wenn wir Tiere nicht als Produkte, als Ware betrachten, als Besitz mit dem man machen kann was man will, wieso sind wir dann bereit hinzunehmen, dass Tiere auf dem Altar der Religionen oder traditioneller Bräuche geopfert werden? Wir schließen Zirkusse und Pelz aus, obgleich auch sie Bestandteile unserer spezisistischen „Kulturen“ sind. Aber wenn es um den Glauben geht, dann ist uns unser Gott wichtiger als das Recht, das wir nichtmenschlichen Tiere zuteil werden lassen müssten, um als Menschen wirklich gerecht/er zu werden.

Sollten wir nicht von vegan lebenden Menschen erwarten können, dass sie wissen, dass ein Tier nicht nur im Bezug auf Kommerz und Großindustrie verdinglicht und objektifiziert werden darf?

Manche sprechen vom Respekt gegenüber Tieren, der ausreiche um der Tierrechtsfrage gerecht zu werden. Und sie sagen es sei akzeptabel Tiere aus religiösen (sprich aus „geheiligten“) Gründen zu töten, wenn man dem Tier nur ausreichend Respekt gegenüber brächte. Und man soll das Tier, das zum Opfer wird, „human“ Töten. Das ist kein veganer Standpunkt, denn der Veganimus fordert, dass kein Tier zum menschlichen Nutzen eingesetzt werden darf. Die Religion kann hier keine Sonderregelung schaffen, denn es geht im Veganimus um Tiere und nicht um Gott.

Es geht um Lebewesen und das Leben. Wenn ich ein Tier meinen Zwecken unterwerfe, um es zu benutzen, zu verletzen und zu töten, dann lässt sich das nicht mit einer veganen Ethik auf sinnvolle Weise verbinden, auch wenn eine Religion solches von mir fordern möchte.

Manche sagen, das möge schon stimmen, aber so schnell könnten wir mit einem Umdenken bei religiös denkenden Menschen nicht rechnen, wenn überhaupt. Wir seien mit der veganen Bewegung ja überhaupt erst am Anfang und Religion und auf ihnen fußende traditionelle Bräuche könne man nicht von heute auf morgen abschaffen.

Solch eine Denkrichtung ist nicht ganz richtig. Denn auch wenn Gesellschaften – die im Westen oder die in der östlichen Hemisphäre gelegene Gesellschaften – bislang weit entfernt davon sind sich in Richtung eines Bewusstseins zu bewegen, dass Tiere auf ethische und affirmative Weise mit einbeschließen würde, nichtsdestotrotz richten sich unsere Vorstellungen über die vegane Lebensweise nicht nach dem „wie es in diesem Moment ist“ oder dem „wie es in der Vergangenheit war“, sondern nach dem „wie es sein sollte“!

Eine Utopie hat es bis hierher geschafft, und eine Utopie kann es, wenn sie nur konsequent durchgeführt wird, auch noch weiter schaffen.

So gravierende Lücken, wie die Inkaufnahme des Tieropfers in Religionen – d. h. rituelle und traditionelle Bräuche unangetastet zu lassen – bergen, außer dem Unrecht das sie aus Tierrechtssicht darstellen, die Gefahr der Verwässerung in sich für die, die meinen dass beides ging: konsequenter Veganismus und das Festhalten an einem Glauben, der das Gehorsam über die Vernunft setzt.

Der Sinn des Veganismus als das bislang effizienteste Mittel um der Tierausbeutung mit Widerstand zu begegnen, erscheint im Kontext von Religiosität fragwürdig, wenn die Religion den Menschen sowieso an die obeste Stelle der Schöpfung setzt. Eine Ergänzug im ethischen Codex wäre dann nowendig, kann in einem religiösen Denksystem aber nicht wirklich vollzogen werden, weil hier ja nur Gott und die von ihm auserkorenen solche gravierenden Entscheidungen über Sein und nicht sein und den Wert des Seins fällen dürfen.

Tiere sind keine Gegenstände, weder zum profanen Handel, noch im “erhabenen” Geiste – weder als Konsumgut, noch für einen Gott dessen menschliche Schöpfung.

(1) „Und Gott segnete sie und sprach zu ihnen: Seid fruchtbar und mehrt euch und füllt die Erde und macht sie euch untertan und herrscht über die Fische im Meer und über die Vögel unter dem Himmel und über alles Getier, das auf Erden kriecht.“
http://bibel-online.net/buch/luther_1912/1_mose/1/ (letzter Zugriff vom 19. Nov. 2012)

From individual to individual

Speciesism and homocentrism are the external manifestations of patterns in thinking that deny animal intelligence, and instead overvalue human intelligence. Humans are mostly behaving contractualist, unpredictable, unreliable, unfair, … and the list could go on in pretty negative terms. I wonder why that is the case, and I think it does not have to be that way.

I think it is possible for a human to be ‘animal intelligent’, to be non-contractualist, predictable, fair, tolerant, loving, … and that list could go on in positive terms. From my experiences with animals I learned about the possibility of ‘animal intelligence’:  The animals I have lived with truly were my best friends.

I think for a person who is truly nonspeciesistic in his/her thoughts and critical about homocentrism  it should be technically possible to really make the shift and start to become a better individual than what humans have per definition been so far, and even prided themselves with.

The time of human intelligence is over for me.

I am glad I defend animal rights from a standpoint of true ‘animal independence’ (of any human paradigm: biology, ethology, philosophy, religion … ).

***

Fragmentary thoughts:

The border around the castle ‘HUMAN’ is the one of scientifical categorizing. Within the castle we claim to be ‘complete’.

BIOLOGICAL HIERARCHISM ALWAYS PUTS HUMAN ‘OBJECTIVITY’ ON TOP OF WHAT IT DENIES THE OTHER SPEICIES: THAT IS ON TOP OF ANIMALS’ OBJECTIVITY

How can absolute objectivity be captured? With which parameters to measure against? Humans’ objectivity claim relies on subjective interests.

Ethical behaviour is one of the components taken out of the frame of an allround objectivity.

Animals get denied for their actions to be viewed as not insinctual.

Subsequently the VALUES of behaviour get ruled out from being within the ethcial scale of social actions between the species, etc.

A term such as ‘ethical’ desribes something that is existent, it’s not an idea in itself – otherwise it would not exist in the correlations…

Mitfühlen oder die Frage nach dem Bösen

 

Im Zugen der Frage danach, ob man mit den Menschen, die Tiere töten oder töten möchten, oder meinen töten zu „müssen“, ob man mit diesen Menschen „mitfühlen“ sollte, sollte man sich aber auch fragen, warum soll ich hier nicht von einer „bösen“ Motivation sprechen. Warum soll ich Verständnis für etwas aufbringen, das auch mein Verständnis nicht zu einem Recht werden ließe.

Ich habe in letzter Zeit häufiger gelesen, dass man doch bitte Verständnis haben solle, mit denen, die Tiere wegen ihres „Fleisches“ oder ihrer „Nutzbarkeit“ töten (wollen). Das habe ich aber nicht im speziellen von Speziesisten gehört, sondern von Leuten, die Blogs über Tierrechte betreiben.

Die Frage nach dem „Bösen“ im Speziesismus ist also, und das mag überraschen, gar nicht eine, die so selbstverständlich gestellt wird. Man verurteilt zwar die Tiertötung und die Gewalt gegen Tiere, aber man diskutiert und analysiert nicht, warum die Tiertötung – von Seiten dessen, der sie begeht oder in Auftrag gibt –, nicht als eine so schwerwiegende Tat wie Mord klassifiziert werden kann ( – aus Gründen des Selbstschutzes natürlich, der scheinmoralischen Legitimation). Und das noch nicht mal von vielen Tierrechtlern.

Eine speziesistische Handlung ist sich dessen bewusst tierverachtend zu sein, aber das spezielle, an dieser Form der Diskriminierung gegen ein anderes Lebewesen ist, dass man es hier mit einer Diskriminierungsform zu tun hat, die einerseits „böse“ motiviert ist – sie will dem Opfer schaden – aber andererseits schafft diese Form der Oppression sich einen Freibrief, indem sie die Gravität ihrer Gewalt als Nichtigkeit verhüllt.

Wenn nun aber auch gerade noch die, die eigentlich gegen diese Form der Gewalt vorgehen wollen, denken, man müsse den Tätern, den spezisitsich handelnden, begegnen, indem man ihnen mit Verständis und Mitfühlsamkeit einen Raum der Legitimität schafft, dann erreicht der Speziesismus genau das was er will: er gibt sich als eine wertneutrale Realität menschlichen Denkens aus, und nicht als Verstoß gegen ein ursächliches Moralempfinden, das die Aufgaben hat, Recht zu schützen, zu verteidigen und überhaupt ethische Schutzräume zu postulieren.

Three questions I would like to ask any true animal advocate

Why we eat “farm animals”, and why we let our “pets” be mass euthanized?

http://www.carnism.com < = ? = > http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org

Why do we think we are animal lovers, when we don’t take the sides of nonhuman animals consistently?

my two cents > http://simorgh.de/niceswine/tag/homocentrism

An Animal Rights revolution, acknowledging a new open view onto the animal kingdom or sticking with the biologistic instinct paradigm.

Why we think “infighting” is bad, when it’s only part of any democratic process?

The recent “infighting” debate between proponents of the “welfarist” and the “abolitionist” view (and the shades of gray inbetween them) shows us just how important allowing pluralist views is for the debate and the practice in our shared goal to help, support, rescue, defend … nonhuman animals .

Yet also we can see how important it is to separate between: priorities for advancing causes and (what I’d call) agenda talk.

Both sides see themselves as being more realistic about the right way in which to approach the general public. Since tragically the general public are still more or less analphabetic as what regards any consciousness of how to bring our animal cospecies constructively (in a life-affirming way) into the political arena of a democracy in crisis ( – the state we are obviously in – but this is a chance, when we take a deep look at the causes for the democratic crisis!).

Animal welfare and animal rights will have to merge into a concept, I believe, that should be wider than an exclusionary sum. The main points to rethink are, I think:

A stronger differentiation in the argumentation is needed often. For instance: what are the goals of welfare? I don’t want to sound funny, but do you still remember the axioms of the set theory? Where do both sides meet, on which grounds, and where do they totally exclude each other … ?

Realistically, how much is “strategy” and how much is “justice” in welfarism: It might be strategically mostly the main option to work on phasing out the speciesist realities and atrocities, but it’s not just. So we got both aspects at one instance, the aspect of being only “strategic”, the slow progress of welfarism – if it has the goal of eliminating speciesism in the end, and the “just” way of abolishing the enslavement of nonhuman animals for human purposes overall, at the other hand.

Goals should be revealed openly if they don’t meet the optimal ends for nonhuman animals in a direct way, such as is the case in welfarism: a tough question, because obviously to do the optimal for animals, we have to do the optimal for nature and humans too, because everything is interwoven on the different layers (and with the optimal for humans being a current issue of open debate or mute silence in our societies.)

Political strategies in the animal rights and the animal welfare movement should be explained, rather than to draw nice images of either the future (abolitionist tendency somehow) or the present (welfarist claims of success where the goal is forgotten over that): why do we deal with nonvegans and non animal advocates the way we do, why do we talk to them the way we talk to them, how do we see the public as so hard to approach on a more honest and critical level?

We do have to have infights, indirectly and partly, cos of our wrangle about the right tone to meet the “general public” … maybe

Why can’t we talk openly towards each other and the other people in society?

Finally: If we would discuss everything more critical and to a deeper level, we would be able to dig our way through ages of history in which we have learned and maybe wanted to distance ourselves from animals and nature.

 

Vegan speciesism

Vegans and anti-speciesists who are acting as subconscious speciesists

I recently came across a campaign movie clip made by an Austrian vegan and anti-speciesist group called http://united-creatures.com/ . They said they wanted to show the live of two sibling pigs, one who lives more or less freely and more or less free from harm – as far as one could tell, and one who had to stay in the farm and he is eventually being killed there. The group United Creatures documents everything, for the purpose of making people aware and educating people about speciesism : http://united-creatures.com/thema/pig-vision/ .

They say they would not want to show gory pictures that would have a shock effect on the viewer. Still, It’s just what they are doing, and the entire project is set up so that you have some animal rights activists who are to a large extent passively, and one could say voyeuristically, only following a situation to document it for “educational purposes” … instead of buying the other animal out too.

A life becomes the subject of being a means to an end, for the purposes of informing the public about what goes on behind the walls of farms and slaughterhouses. Society already knows what goes on behind these walls. The community of animal advocates is resistant towards this fact and doesn’t seem to recognize how speciesism works.

Either that, or the AR community (with it’s big leading organizations who frame the dialectic) wants to keep imagining that we are all still living back in the 80ies where it only started yet that documentations about slaughterhouses were made more widely public.  Nonetheless even at that time speciesism had it’s own ways of communicating its defamatory language about how to best degrade nonhuman animals in our homocentric societies.

As for today, just look at the contemporary arts scene for instance … People like those from the group ‘United Creatures’ must be aware of “artists” such as the famous Austrian speciesist Herman Nitsch who makes orgies in which a selected group of people takes part in the dismemberment and slaughter process of a nonhuman animal.

Animal activists such as the group ‘United Creatures’ must have met conscious speciesism also in the mindset of hunters, butcher shops, barbecue freaks, leather fetishists, snuff videos, speciesist “jokes”, anti ar+vegan comments on the internet … and what have you. Still, activists pretend nobody knows about the atrocities that are being done to animals, so we should keep showing how animals are being murdered – for the purpose of printing yet another pamphlet.

A nonhuman animal is not a means to an end. Animal rights activist should sense that there is a threshold, and it’s bad enough that theiy themselves keep crossing a line that they should be aware of: the line of objectification that has long been wiped out by our speciesist societies.

Instead of showing over and over again how animals are being degraded and murdered, for educational or documentary purposes, animal activists should make the mechanisms of speciesism more aware I believe, and what speciesism exactly is, how is psychologically and ideologically works.