lunes, 29 de febrero de 2016

On Speciesism and Antispeciesism

A proposed redefinition of humanism:

On Ed Gibney's redefinition of humanism, which takes into account Peter Singer's "antispeciesism", defined as the privileging of the exceptionalism and interests of one's own species.

Should we humans plead guilty of speciesism, of privileging the interests and point of view of our species? Is that a prejudice we can or should get rid of? There is a paradox involved in thinking that humans can eschew speciesism.

This is a small comment by way of Ed Gibney´s redefinition of humanism, a redefinition which argues that humanism cannot be adequately defined without an ecological consciousness of the role of humanity as one more species in the biosphere. Gibney takes into account Peter Singer´s "antispeciesism", defined as the privileging of the exceptionalism and interests of one's own species. And one can easily agree with his call for an increased awareness of the ecological situatedness of human cultures, and for an ecologically responsible humanism.

One query, though; I doubt that, even as we become more aware of animal cognition and of our ecological involvement in a social biosphere, I doubt that we can ever get rid of a measure of "speciesism", and we would be deluding ourselves if we tried to. In the sense that human cognition IS unique and distinctive, and it is the field in which all these debates are played out. We are by definition human-centered to that degree at least, and in many others too, no doubt.

Perhaps thinking that we can embrace a species-neutral mode of cognition is in itself a benevolenty insidious mode of speciesism, if you see what I mean (humans being able to escape their situatedness in order to assume nobody´s viewpoint and everyone´s interests). After all, Gibney´s assumption that humanism is a cognitive product and a viable project at all, whereas "wolfism" or "lambism" make no sense, is itself "speciesist" in that ineradicable sense. Nobody that I know claims that wolves or lambs or ants are or should be "stewards of the planet" in any meaningful sense beyond their usual ecological position.

Nor, perhaps, should we think that we can be stewards of the planet from a standpoint which is not our ecological one... saying which makes me, come to think, a specimen of a moderate variety of anti-speciesism, and of a moderate variety of specisism too.





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