SOPhiA 2017

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Interspecies Solidarity: A Pyrrhic Victory for Animals?
(Political Philosophy, English)

Traditionally, the term solidarity is taken to refer to a kind of relation, action, or attitude that can occur exclusively between humans, and not between humans and nonhuman animals (cf. Bayertz 1998, 11). Following a recent account developed in bioethics, solidarity might be defined as the actualization of a disposition to assist others, where the form of assistance can assume different degrees of institutionalization, while it initially begins with the recognition of some similarity between the provider and the recipient of a benefit, i.e. some feeling of identification (Prainsack & Buyx 2011). Many animal ethicists have been keen to point out similarities between humans and nonhuman animals---in light of this, the concept of solidarity could turn out to be readily applicable to different forms of support for nonhuman animals after all.
However, the presence of a feeling of identification or the lack thereof is at first a matter of motivation. The justificatory basis of an act of solidarity might still be poor. The problem with that becomes more obvious as the respective actions are taken on by larger groups and become increasingly institutionalized. The larger the scale of measures taken, the more pressing is the need for an impersonal justification. And if it is true that the concept of solidarity should be further specified to the effect that it picks out supererogatory acts (Bayertz 1998, 14), then the idea of interspecies solidarity seems in fact unfit to contribute to our understanding of human obligations towards nonhuman animals.
In order to show that nonhuman animals can be perceived of as potential beneficiaries of solidary help without over-stretching the concept of solidarity, I will refute four types of objections to the idea of interspecies solidarity. Turning to some more general concerns about the concept of solidarity, I will then argue that references to solidarity unfortunately add little to, and might even curtail attempts to clarify what sorts of moral claims nonhuman animals have against humans.

-- Bayertz, Kurt (1998) ''Begriff und Problem der Solidaritšt'', in: Bayertz, Kurt (ed.) Solidaritšt. Begriff und Problem, pp. 11-53.
-- Prainsack, Barbara & Buyx, Alena (2011) Solidarity: reflections on an emerging concept in bioethics, Nuffield Council on Bioethics. URL:, last accessed October 31st 2016.

Chair: Alexander Christian
Time: 14:35-15:05, 15 September 2017 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.007

Frauke Albersmeier 
(Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Germany)

Frauke Albersmeier is a research fellow at Heinrich Heine University, Duesseldorf, working in project A05: "Presuppositions of frame theory in the history of philosophy" of the DFG-funded Collaborative Research Centre 991: "The Structure of Representations in Language, Cognition, and Science". Her research focus is on philosophical methodology as well as animal ethics. She is currently writing her dissertation on ''The Concept of Moral Progress''.

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