Humans and non-human animals: different moral worlds?

David Cockburn (University of Wales, Trinity St David)
Adrian Davis (University of Wales Trinity Saint David)
Room 4
Start time:
14 September, 2011 at 14:30
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel will explore whether, and to what extent, there are cogent and useful analogies to be made between the ways that humans relate to non-human animals and the prejudice, discrimination and violence that they perpetrate against one another.

Long abstract:

Developments in cognitive ethology and other disciplines have shed light on fundamental questions pertaining to animal subjectivities, human nature, and the subjugation of non-human animals. Scholars have questioned whether our culture fosters violence and prejudice against women, animals, and people of colour etc, and have argued that we must wrestle with the common roots of these falsely isolated subjugations. As we reflect on the long history of slavery, colonialism, genocide, racism, and sexual subordination, and expose the conditions of possibility for genocide and ethnic cleansing, we can question whether certain acculturated tendencies in human-animal relations are implicated in crucial ways. How might the usefulness of these analogies best be worked out? Or are such analogies fallacious and / or morally obnoxious, as other 'humanistic' critics contend? Possible questions for contributors: * How have social practices contributed to constructions of human and non-human subjectivity through, for instance, the spatial segregation of the natural world, the taming of nature and 'animality', and bringing animals into the home? * As we historicise animal domestication alongside shifting ideas of human uniqueness, are there lessons to be learnt about the relevance of the human-animal binary for phenomena such as slavery, racism, and colonialism? * How can a critical deconstruction of conventional human-animal relations draw upon lessons learnt from the study of slavery, racism, colonialism, genocide and the study social movements that have sprung up in opposition to these practices and how does this call into question our humanist and anthropocentric conceptions of subjectivity and superiority?