Human beings are both supremely rational and deeply superstitious, capable of believing just about anything and of questioning just about everything. Indeed, just as our reason demands that we know the truth, our skepticism leads to doubts we can ever really do so. In Walking the Tightrope of Reason, Robert J. Fogelin guides readers through a contradiction that lies at the very heart of philosophical inquiry. Fogelin argues that our rational faculties insist on a purely rational account (...) of the universe, yet at the same time, the inherent limitations of these faculties ensure that we will never fully satisfy that demand. As a result of being driven to this point of paradox, we either comfort ourselves with what Kant called "metaphysical illusions" or adopt a stance of radical skepticism. No middle ground seems possible and, as Fogelin shows, skepticism, even though a healthy dose of it is essential for living a rational life, "has an inherent tendency to become unlimited in its scope, with the result that the edifice of rationality is destroyed." In much Postmodernist thought, for example, skepticism takes the extreme form of absolute relativism, denying the basis for any value distinctions and treating all truth-claims as equally groundless. How reason avoids disgracing itself, walking a fine line between dogmatic belief and self-defeating doubt, is the question Fogelin seeks to answer. Reflecting upon the ancient Greek skeptics as well as such thinkers as Hume, Kant, Wittgenstein, Nietzsche, and Whitman, this book takes readers into--and through--some of philosophy's most troubling paradoxes. (shrink)
Many people involved in the life sciences and related fields and industries routinely cause mice, rats, dogs, cats, primates and other non-human animals to experience pain, suffering, and an early death, harming these animals greatly and not for their own benefit. Harms, however, require moral justification, reasons that pass critical scrutiny. Animal experimenters and dissectors might suspect that strong moral justification has been given for this kind of treatment of animals. I survey some recent attempts to provide such a (...) justification and show that they do not succeed: they provide no rational defense of animal experimentation and related activities. Thus, the need for a rational defense of animal experimentation remains. (shrink)
This paper considers well known results of psychological researchinto the fallibility of human reason, and philosophical conclusionsthat some have drawn from these results. Close attention to theexact content of the results casts doubt on the reasoning that leadsto those conclusions.
Jan Narveson has suggested that rational egoism might provide a defensible moral perspective that would put animals out of the reach of morality without denying that they are capable of suffering. I argue that rational egoism provides a principled indifference to the fate of animals at high cost: the possibility of principled indifference to the fate of “marginal humans.”.
This paper is designed to help people rationally engage moral issues regarding the treatment of animals, specifically uses of animals in medical and psychological experimentation, basic research, drug development, education and training, consumer product testing and other areas.
I begin with a rather unpromising dispute that Nozick once had with Ian Hacking in the pages of the London Review of Books, in which both vied with one another in their enthusiasm to repudiate the thesis that some human people or peoples are closer than others to animality. I shall attempt to show that one can build, on the basis of Nozick’s discussion of rationality, a defense of the view that the capacity tor language places human rationality out of (...) reach of a comparison with animals. The difference rests, paradoxically, on the human capacity tor irratianality. Irrationality depends on the capacity tor language, which allows the detachment of explicit thoughts from their underlying dynamic implementation; these, in turn, condition the essential disputability of principles of rationality. That is what places every human potentially -- if not actually -- on the other side of an unbridgeable gulf that separates us from other animals. (shrink)
I examine John McDowell's attitude towards naturalism in general, and evolutionary theory in particular, by distinguishing between "transcendental descriptions" and "empirical explanations". With this distinction in view we can understand why McDowell holds that there is both continuity and discontinuity between humans qua rational animals and other animals -- there is continuity with regards to empirical explanations and discontinuity with regards to transcendental descriptions. The result of this examination is a clearer assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of McDowell's (...) contribution to philosophical naturalism. (shrink)
Elizabeth Anderson’s “pluralist–expressivist” value theory, an alternative to the understanding of value and rationality underlying the “rational actor” model of human behavior, provides rich resources for addressing questions of environmental and animal ethics. It is particularly well-suited to help us think about the ethics of commodification, as I demonstrate in this critique of the pet trade. I argue that Anderson’s approach identifies the proper grounds for criticizing the commodification of animals, and directs our attention to the importance of (...) maintaining social practices and institutions that respect the social meanings of animals. Her theory alone, however, does not adequately address the role of the state in this project. Drawing on social contract theory to fill this gap, I conclude that the state’s role in regulating the pet trade should be limited to ensuring the welfare of animals in the stream of commerce, not prohibiting their mass marketing altogether. (shrink)
To what extent can animal behaviour be described as rational? What does it even mean to describe behaviour as rational? -/- This book focuses on one of the major debates in science today - how closely does mental processing in animals resemble mental processing in humans. It addresses the question of whether and to what extent non-human animals are rational, that is, whether any animal behaviour can be regarded as the result of a rational (...) thought processes. It does this with attention to three key questions, which recur throughout the book and which have both empirical and philosophical aspects: What kinds of behavioural tasks can animals successfully perform? What if any mental processes must be postulated to explain their performance at these tasks? What properties must processes have to count as rational? The book is distinctive in pursuing these questions not only in relation to our closest relatives, the primates, whose intelligence usually gets the most attention, but also in relation to birds and dolphins, where striking results are also being obtained. -/- Some chapters focus on a particular species. They describe some of the extraordinary and complex behaviour of these species - using tools in novel ways to solve foraging problems, for example, or behaving in novel ways to solve complex social problems - and ask whether such behaviour should be explained in rational or merely mechanistic terms. Other chapters address more theoretical issues and ask, for example, what it means for behaviour to be rational, and whether rationality can be understood in the absence of language. -/- The book includes many of the world's leading figures doing empirical work on rationality in primates, dolphins, and birds, as well as distinguished philosophers of mind and science. The book includes an editors' introduction which summarises the philosophical and empirical work presented, and draws together the issues discussed by the contributors. (shrink)
It is indeed important to identify the rich variety of systems for the adaptive control of behaviour, rather than squeezing this richness into a few boxes. We need to recognise both the variety of systems for the cognitive control of adaptive behaviour and to chart the relationships between such systems. But I shall argue that these projects are not best pursued by asking about the extent of animal rationality. The argument develops in three stages. The first outlines a picture (...) of the selective regimes that drive the evolution of the sophisticated use of information by animal agents. The second argues that hominid cognition has evolved in response to a somewhat different set of
challenges and that (as a consequence) the transmission of social information and skill has come to be both a critical and an unusual feature of hominid selective and developmental environments. The third draws upon the ideas of Dan Sperber and others in arguing that the social transmission of information introduces (or makes much more important) a vetting problem. I shall suggest that we see rationality as an evolved response to this vetting problem. (shrink)
Abstract McDowell's contributions to epistemology and philosophy of mind turn centrally on his defense of the Aristotelian concept of a ?rationalanimal?. I argue here that a clarification of how McDowell uses this concept can make more explicit his distance from Davidson regarding the nature of the minds of non-rational animals. Close examination of his responses to Davidson and to Dennett shows that McDowell is implicitly committed to avoiding the following ?false trichotomy?: that animals are not bearers (...) of semantic content at all, that they are bearers of content in the same sense we are, and that they are bearer of ?as if? content. Avoiding the false trichotomy requires that we understand non-rational animals as having concepts but not as making judgments. Furthermore, we need to supplement McDowell's distinction between the logical spaces of reasons and of the realm of law with what Finkelstein calls ?the logical space of animate life?. Though McDowell has taken some recent steps to embrace a view like this, I urge a more demanding conception than what McDowell has thus far suggested. (shrink)
Do non-human animals have rights? The answer to this question depends on whether animals have morally relevant mental properties. Mindreading is the human activity of ascribing mental states to other organisms. Current knowledge about the evolution and cognitive structure of mindreading indicates that human ascriptions of mental states to non-human animals are very inaccurate. The accuracy of human mindreading can be improved with the help of scientific studies of animal minds. But the scientific studies by themselves do not by (...) themselves solve the problem of how to map psychological similarities (and differences) between humans and animals onto a distinction between morally relevant and morally irrelevant mental properties. The current limitations of human mindreading – whether scientifically aided or not – have practical consequences for the rational justification of claims about which rights (if any) non-human animals should be accorded. (shrink)
Welfare biology is the study of living things and their environment with respect to their welfare (defined as net happiness, or enjoyment minus suffering). Despite difficulties of ascertaining and measuring welfare and relevancy to normative issues, welfare biology is a positive science. Evolutionary economics and population dynamics are used to help answer basic questions in welfare biology: Which species are affective sentients capable of welfare? Do they enjoy positive or negative welfare? Can their welfare be dramatically increased? Under plausible axioms, (...) all conscious species are plastic and all plastic species are conscious (and, with a stronger axiom, capable of welfare). More complex niches favour the evolution of more rational species. Evolutionary economics also supports the common-sense view that individual sentients failing to survive to mate suffer negative welfare. A kind of God-made (or evolution-created) fairness between species is also unexpectedly found. The contrast between growth maximization (as may be favoured by natural selection), average welfare, and total welfare maximization is discussed. It is shown that welfare could be increased without even sacrificing numbers (at equilibrium). Since the long-term reduction in animal suffering depends on scientific advances, strict restrictions on animal experimentation may be counter-productive to animal welfare. (shrink)
Introduction: Reason, ethics, and animals -- Part I: Making the rational case -- Why animal suffering matters morally -- How we minimize animal suffering and how we can change -- Part II: Three practical critiques -- First case: Hunting with dogs -- Second case: Fur farming -- Third case: Commercial sealing -- Conclusion: Re-establishing animals and children as a common cause and six objections considered.
Abstract In his paper “The Opposite of Human Enhancement: Nanotechnology and the Blind Chicken problem” ( Nanoethics 2: 305-36, 2008) Thompson argued that technological attempts to reduce or eliminate selected non-human animals’ capabilities (animal disenhancements) in order to solve or mitigate animal welfare problems in animals’ use pose a philosophical conundrum, because there is a contradiction between rational arguments in favor of these technological interventions and intuitions against them. In her response “Animal Disenhancement and the Non-Identity (...) Problem: A Response to Thompson” ( Nanoethics 5:43–48, 2011), Palmer maintained that the philosophical conundrum is even deeper if we introduce the non-identity problem into the discussion. In my brief response, I claim that in order to avoid the pitfalls of speculative ethics, empirical facts related to the technologies involved as well as costs for the non-human animals have to be taken into account. Depending on which changes we are referring to, ethical problems can be seen very differently. Widening the consideration to the socio-economic context in which non-human animals are currently used by humans, I challenge the idea of genuine philosophical conundrums from an antispeciesist and abolitionist perspective. Only in a context of exploitation, in which non-human animals are deprived of basic rights and their existence is totally dependent on human exploitation, the contradictions between improvement of welfare and disenhancement of capabilities make sense. Content Type Journal Article Category Critical Discussion Notes Pages 1-12 DOI 10.1007/s11569-012-0139-1 Authors Arianna Ferrari, KIT/ITAS (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology/Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis), Karlsruhe, Germany Journal NanoEthics Online ISSN 1871-4765 Print ISSN 1871-4757. (shrink)
According to Aristotle, humans are the rationalanimal. The borderline between rationality and irrationality is fundamental to many aspects of human life including the law, mental health, and language interpretation. But what is it to be rational? One answer, deeply embedded in the Western intellectual tradition since ancient Greece, is that rationality concerns reasoning according to the rules of logic – the formal theory that specifies the inferential connections that hold with certainty between propositions. Piaget viewed logical (...) reasoning as defining the end-point of cognitive development; and contemporary psychology of reasoning has focussed on comparing human reasoning against logical standards. (shrink)
The distinction between personal level explanations and subpersonal ones has been subject to much debate in philosophy. We understand it as one between explanations that focus on an agent’s interaction with its environment, and explanations that focus on the physical or computational enabling conditions of such an interaction. The distinction, understood this way, is necessary for a complete account of any agent, rational or not, biological or artificial. In particular, we review some recent research in Artificial Life that pretends (...) to do completely without the distinction, while using agent-centred concepts all the way. It is argued that the rejection of agent level explanations in favour of mechanistic ones is due to an unmotivated need to choose among representationalism and eliminativism. The dilemma is a false one if the possibility of a radical form of externalism is considered. (shrink)
The distinction between personal level explanations and subpersonal ones has been subject to much debate in philosophy. We understand it as one between explanations that focus on an agent’s interaction with its environment, and explanations that focus on the physical or computational enabling conditions of such an interaction. The distinction, understood this way, is necessary for a complete account of any agent, rational or not, biological or artificial. In particular, we review some recent research in Artificial Life that pretends (...) to do completely without the distinction, while using agent-centered concepts all the way. It is argued that the rejection of agent level explanations in favour of mechanistic ones is due to an unmotivated need to choose among representationalism and eliminativism. The dilemma is a false one if the possibility of a radical form of externalism is considered. (shrink)
Insanity is identified with irrationality, while rationality is considered to be the mark of sanity. Yet we want to say that rationality could be the cause of insanity. We can see a subtle kind of insanity inherent in an institution believed to be highly rational. Rationality in an ideological belief also turns into rational insanity when the ideology itself works for the interest of the advantaged as a tool of deception. We believe in the rationality of open communication. (...) We believe that information technology has given us the most rational means for open communication. The Internet revolution or Internet democracy is expected to become the most rational means for the institutional goal of democracy. However the rationality of Internet communication has demonstrated a serious tendency to cause Internet insanity. We have been proud of being 'rational animals'. But now we are concerned because 'rationalanimal' could mean 'rational but animal-like' or 'rational but impulsive', which in turn could mean 'rational but violent' or 'rational but mad and insane'. Perhaps it is time for us to think seriously about the possibility of mass insanity through rational insanity, and seek the way beyond such rational insanity. (shrink)
(2013). Why humans are (sometimes) less rational than other animals: Cognitive complexity and the axioms of rational choice. Thinking & Reasoning: Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 1-26. doi: 10.1080/13546783.2012.713178.
Kant is often considered to have argued that perceptual awareness of objects in one's environment depends on the subject's possession of conceptual capacities. This conceptualist interpretation raises an immediate problem concerning the nature of perceptual awareness in non-rational, non-concept using animals. In this paper I argue that Kant’s claims concerning animal representation and consciousness do not foreclose the possibility of attributing to animals the capacity for objective perceptual consciousness, and that a non-conceptualist interpretation of Kant’s position concerning perceptual (...) awareness can actively endorse this attribution. Kant can consistently allow that animals have a point of view on the objective world which possesses a distinctive phenomenal character while denying what seems most important to him – viz. that animals have the capacity to take cognitive attitudes towards, and thus self-ascribe, their own representational states. (shrink)
It is a curious fact about mainstream discussions of animal rights that they are dominated by consequentialist defenses thereof, when consequentialism in general has been on the wane in other areas of moral philosophy. In this paper, I describe an alternative, non‐consequentialist ethical framework (combining Kantian and virtue‐ethical elements) and argue that it grants (conscious) animals more expansive rights than consequentialist proponents of animal rights typically grant. The cornerstone of this non‐consequentialist framework is the thought that the virtuous (...) agent is s/he who has the stable and dominating disposition to treat all conscious animals, including non‐human conscious animals, as ends and not mere means. (shrink)
It is widely accepted, by both friends and foes of animal rights, that contractarianism is the moral theory least likely to justify the assigning of direct moral status to non-human animals. These are not, it is generally supposed, rational agents, and contractarian approaches can grant direct moral status only to such agents. I shall argue that this widely accepted view is false. At least some forms of contractarianism, when properly understood, do, in fact, entail that non-human animals possess (...) direct moral status, independently of their utility for rational agents, and independently of whatever interests rational agents may have in them. The version of contractarianism I shall focus upon is that defended by John Rawls. (shrink)
The basis of having a direct moral obligation to an entity is that what we do to that entity matters to it. The ability to experience pain is a sufficient condition for a being to be morally considerable. But the ability to feel pain is not a necessary condition for moral considerability. Organisms could have possibly evolved so as to be motivated to flee danger or injury or to eat or drink not by pain, but by “pangs of pleasure” that (...) increase as one fills the relevant need or escapes the harm. In such a world, “mattering” would be positive, not negative, but would still be based in sentience and awareness. In our world, however, the “mattering” necessary to survival is negative—injuries and unfulfilled needs ramify in pain. But physical pain is by no means the only morally relevant mattering—fear, anxiety, loneliness, grief, certainly do not equate to varieties of physical pain, but are surely forms of “mattering.” An adequate morality towards animals would include a full range of possible matterings unique to each kind of animal, what I, following Aristotle, call “telos”. Sometimes not meeting other aspects of animal nature matter more to the animal than does physical pain. “Negative mattering” means all actions or events that harm animals—from frightening an animal to removing its young unnaturally early, to keeping it so it is unable to move or socialize. Physical pain is perhaps the paradigmatic case of “negative mattering”, but only constitutes a small part of what the concept covers. “Positive mattering” would of course encompass all states that are positive for the animal. An adequate ethic for animals takes cognizance of both kinds. The question arises as to how animals value death as compared with pain. Human cognition is such that it can value long-term future goals and endure short-run negative experiences for the sake of achieving them. In the case of animals, however, there is no evidence, either empirical or conceptual, that they have the capability to weigh future benefits or possibilities against current misery. We have no reason to believe that an animal can grasp the notion of extended life, let alone choose to trade current suffering for it. Pain may well be worse for animals than for humans, as they cannot rationalize its acceptance by appeal to future life without pain. How can we know that animals experience all or any of the negative or positive states we have enumerated above? The notion that we needed to be agnostic or downright atheistic about animal mentation, including pain, because we could not verify it through experience, became a mainstay of what I have called “scientific ideology”, the uncriticized dogma taught to young scientists through most of the 20th century despite its patent ignoring of Darwinian phylogenetic continuity. Together with the equally pernicious notion that science is “value-free”, and thus has no truck with ethics, this provided the complete justification for hurting animals in science without providing any pain control. This ideology could only be overthrown by federal law. Ordinary common sense throughout history, in contradistinction to scientific ideology, never denied that animals felt pain. Where, then, does the denial of pain and other forms of mattering come from if it is inimical to common sense? It came from the creation of philosophical systems hostile to common sense and salubrious to a scientific, non-commonsensical world view. Reasons for rejecting this philosophical position are detailed. In the end, then, there are no sound reasons for rejecting knowledge of animal pain and other forms of both negative and positive mattering in animals. Once that hurdle is cleared, science must work assiduously to classify, understand, and mitigate all instances of negative mattering occasioned in animals by human use, as well as to understand and maximize all modes of positive mattering. (shrink)
The history of the regulation of animal research is essentially the history of the emergence of meaningful social ethics for animals in society. Initially, animal ethics concerned itself solely with cruelty, but this was seen as inadequate to late 20th-century concerns about animal use. The new social ethic for animals was quite different, and its conceptual bases are explored in this paper. The Animal Welfare Act of 1966 represented a very minimal and in many ways incoherent (...) attempt to regulate animal research, and is far from morally adequate. The 1985 amendments did much to render coherent the ethic for laboratory animals, but these standards were still inadequate in many ways, as enumerated here. The philosophy underlying these laws is explained, their main provisions are explored, and future directions that could move the ethic forward and further rationalize the laws are sketched. (shrink)
1. When we attribute beliefs, desires, and other states of common sense psychology to a person, or for that matter to an animal or an artifact, we are assuming or presupposing that the person or object can be treated as an intentional system. 2. An intentional system is one which is rational through and through; its beliefs are those it ought to have, given its perceptual capacities, its epistemic needs, and its biography…. Its desires are those it ought (...) to have, given its biological needs and the most practicable means of satisfying them…. And its behavior will consist of those acts that it would be rational for an agent with those beliefs and desires to perform. [beliefs + desires action] 3. If rationality is absent, we cannot coherently ascribe beliefs at all. 4. Therefore, no experiment could demonstrate that people systematically invoke invalid or irrational inferential strategies. (shrink)
It is curious that the imperial Stoics, following a precedent of Diogenes the Cynic, employ so many wide-ranging examples of animal behavior. For example, what are we to make of the rigid dichotomy Seneca and Epictetus draw between rational and nonrational beings in relation to the diverse comparisons they make between human virtues and vices on the one hand and animal excellences and "bestial'behaviors on the other? Why are the most potent, diverse, and philosophically significant animal (...) exempla found in Seneca and Epictetus? I argue that it is because such exempla serve a variety of protreptic purposes. While appeals to the over-arching rationality of the cosmos may provide some theoretical understanding for the place of human beings in nature, from a pedagogical and rhetorical standpoint animal exempla provide particularly effective guidance for human conduct.Cleverly deployed animal exempla help cultivate aretaic affective dispositions. (shrink)
Philosophical tradition demands rational reflection as a condition for genuine moral acts. But the grounds for that requirement are untenable, and when the requirement is dropped morality comes into clearer view as a naturally developing phenomenon that is not confined to human beings and does not require higher-level rational reflective processes. Rational consideration of rules and duties can enhance and extend moral behavior, but rationality is not necessary for morality and (contrary to the Kantian tradition represented by (...) Thomas Nagel) morality cannot transcend its biological roots. Recognizing this helps forge a complementary rather than competitive relation between feminist care-based ethics and rationalistic duty-based ethics. (shrink)
Do animals possess rights? The argument works from marginal cases: we attribute value to humans because of some minimal set of characteristics thathumans possess. Animals possess these characteristics; therefore they deserve moral consideration. Such arguments depend on a functionalist attribution of value. Any turn to functionalism will necessarily be detrimental to human dignity, since some humans will not qualify. I will show how the methods used to establish animal rights are generally some form of functionalism, with particular emphasis on (...) Peter Singer and Tom Regan. Functionalism will always be arbitrary, since it assigns value on the basis of facts that do not necessitate such values. A better alternative is Aquinas’s theory of human dignity, that humans are valuable because of their supernatural destiny. This theory cannot be proven, but neither can the functionalist argument. Further, the human dignity argument is more rational, since it avoids many of the problems of the functionalist animal rights position. (shrink)
I argue that the human being fits squarely within the natural world in Aristotle’s anthropology. Like other natural beings, we strive to fulfill our end from the potential within us to achieve that end. Logos does not make human beings unnatural but makes us responsible for our actualization. As rational, the human can never be reduced to mere living animal but is always already concerned with living well; yet, as natural, she is not separated from the animal (...) world, a dangerous distinction which inevitably leaves some persons reduced to mere animality. (shrink)
Kant’s view that we have only indirect duties to animals fails to capture the intuitive notion that wronging animals transgresses duties we owe to those animals. Here I argue that Kantianism can allow for direct duties to animals, and in particular, an imperfect duty to promote animal welfare, without unduly compromising its core theoretical commitments, especially its claims concerning the source and nature of our duties toward rational beings. The basis for such duties is that animal welfare, (...) on my revised Kantian view, is neither a conditioned nor unconditioned good, but a final and non-derivative good that ought to be treated. as an end-in-itself. However, this duty to promote animal welfare operates according to a broadly consequentialist logic that both accords well with our considered judgments about our duties to animals and explains differences between these duties and duties to rational agents. (shrink)
This paper concerns Hegel’s much-neglected discussion of the rational observation of nature in the first part of the chapter on reason in the Phenomenology of Spirit. The paper focuses, in particular, on the themes of nature’s inexhaustibilit y, animal life’s holistic character, and the earth’s individual distinctiveness insofar as Hegel appeals to them to challenge a certain kind of self-understanding of what it means to observe nature rationally. In addition to examining the significance and trenchancy of this challenge, (...) the paper inquires whether these same themes have implications for Hegel’s own philosophical understanding of reason as spirit. (shrink)
Jacob Viner introduced the term ‘sub-rational’ to characterize the faculties – human instinct, sentiment and intuition – that fall between animal instinct and full-blown reason. The Scots considered sympathy both an affective and a physiological link between mind and body, and by natural history, they traced the most foundational societal institutions – language and law, money and property – to a sub-rational origin. Their ‘social evolutionism’ anticipated Darwin's ‘dangerous idea’ that humans differ from the lower animals only (...) in degree, not in kind. Darwin had the ability to ‘trade places in the imagination’, as Adam Smith would say, with plants and animals, and ‘think’ as they do. The trend today is to ‘positivize,’ ‘behaviorize’ and otherwise reduce the sub-rational to the purely biological. My suggestion is that we trade places in the imagination with the Scottish moral scientists and Darwin, and try thinking as they did. (shrink)
Plutarch is virtually unique in surviving classical authors in arguing that animals are rational and sentient, and in concluding that human beings must take notice of their interests. Stephen Newmyer explores Plutarch's three animal-related treatises, as well as passages from his other ethical treatises, which argue that non-human animals are rational and therefore deserve to fall within the sphere of human moral concern. Newmyer shows that some of the arguments Plutarch raises strikingly foreshadow those found in the (...) works of such prominent animal rights philosophers as Peter Singer and Tom Regan in maintaining that non-human animals are the sorts of creatures that have intellectual qualities that cause them to be proper objects of man's concern, and have interests and desires that entitle them to respect from their human counterparts. This volume is groundbreaking in viewing Plutarch's views not only in the context of ancient philosophical and ethical thought, but in its place, generally overlooked, in the history of speculation on human-animal relations, and in pointing out how remarkably Plutarch differs from such predominantly anti-animal thinkers as the Stoics. (shrink)
Using an experience of animal perception and tracking as my guide, I track for the reader a recent sequence of readings and writings of mine, but not just my own. I want to show a map of an intellectual meander outward toward animality and toward the question of the ethical status of the nonhuman animal . With hindsight, we can spy the blind spots, blind corners, of a pursuit, intellectual or otherwise. Through this exercise, I want to try (...) to illustrate how that path of questions about the non-human animal in the first instance permits a suspension of attention to ourselves--the human animal--as contested moral subjects and an oblivion about that suspension. But, in the second instance, the questions posed by the animal, on the meander outward, lead to other questions which in turn make our oblivion so crystal clear that it calls our apparent naiveté and goodwill into question. The result is, literally, a sudden about-face which (re)contests ourselves--the human animal--as moral subjects. An implication of this paper is to call into question our adequacy, as epistemic agents, to the task of what feminist epistemologists call "critical self-reflection"; that is, knowing oneself more fully by perceiving what one is up to in ones line of questioning, catching oneself unawares in particular. My experience of tracking an animal and then finding myself suddenly being tracked by that animal casts what I hope is a useful doubt on the capacity of the isolated rational agent to accomplish a making-visible of what is invisible about her own perceptions; that is, reveals the very real limits of her evidence-gathering capacities. I want above all to argue that our own blind spots are disabled and critical self-reflexivity becomes possible, not by a willing and able isolated self but by a strange-making encounter wit h a non-self who stops us in our tracks. The final section of the paper focuses on two kinds of non-selfs who 'summons' us, and our capacities to hear one of these summons more readily than the other. It asks whether the question of the fetus is perhaps like the question of the animal, yet, even more than that of the animal, one that still cannot be heard or seen. (shrink)
A study of the problem of animal souls as treated by Pierre Bayle in his article on Rorarius in the Dictionnaire. Early modern philosophers, if they rejected dualism, tended—as Bayle shows—to be driven either to materialism or to panpsychism.