SOPhiA 2019

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

A Challenge for Animal Rights Advocates: Communitarianism vs. Liberalism
(Ethics, English)

Animal rights advocates are facing a conflict between liberalism and communitarianism. Both ideologies pose certain problems regarding nonhuman animals' interests. From the liberal point of view, humans, as autonomous beings, have a rightful claim to fulfil their interests, often at the cost of harming nonhuman animals. Communitarianism is closely related to the moral relativism which can easily justify states' practice of animal exploitation. Advocates for nonhuman animals, nevertheless, adopt certain aspects of both political theories. One approach, often called welfarism, is based on expanding our duties towards nonhuman animals. The common benefit, animals' basic interest to live, and their sentience serve as rationales for our caring and responsible behaviour towards nonhuman beings. In the welfarist model no positive rights are attributed to animals and the pivotal concern is their well-being. This rather minimalist approach may be widely held in society, it is, however, not very effective and typically a concern only of NGOs. Most animal rights theorists follow a different path to deal with questions of morality, claiming that nonhuman animals are endowed with intrinsic dignity. They adopt the liberal emphasis on autonomy and argue that animals are conscious beings with equal moral status to humans. This means providing nonhuman animals with certain negative and/or positive rights, as they have abilities to exercise them. I will closely examine one of the variants of this view, the domesticated animal citizenship of Will Kymlicka and Sue Donaldson. These authors combine the liberal position of inalienable individual rights with the communitarian focus on communal cooperation and participation in social values. Even though their model can be considered daring and problematic in several aspects, it arguably provides the most satisfying compromise between the two philosophies.

Time: 16:00-16:30, 20 September 2019 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.004

Jana Holíková 
(Palack__ University Olomouc, Czech Republic)

Jana Holíková is a second year Ph.D. student in the Department of Philosophy at Palacký University Olomouc. Her research focuses on philosophy of law and history of ideas. She wrote her master's thesis on the theological construction of human and animal rights. Besides philosophy, she also studied cultural anthropology during her bachelor's and master's studies, which sparked her interest in cultural and moral relativism. She currently deals with the question how animal rights theories are influenced by Christian morality and dignity.

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