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Content available remote Inocent-Mária V. Szaniszló o Peteru Singerovi
The Slovak theologian Inocent-Mária V. Szaniszló, in his article Does man have a special status in the world in relation to other animals?, attempts to subject the ethical thought of Peter Singer to a philosophical critique. In this polemical reaction I show that the author interprets Singer in a very misleading, and often quite mistaken, way. I attribute the reason for this to a relatively serious fact: the Slovak theologian has probably not read the main works of the criticised author. I attempt to set forth the most serious mistakes and, in the context of this discussion, to describe in detail how Singer really understands speciesism and his own preference utilitarianism.
Slovenský teolog Inocent-Mária V. Szaniszló se ve svém článku Má človek vo vesmíre zvláštne postavenie medzi inými živočíchmi? pokouší podrobit filosofické kritice etické myšlení Petera Singera. Ve své polemické reakci ukazuji, že autor interpretuje Singera velmi zavádějícím, často zcela chybným způsobem. Určuji, že příčinou je poměrně závažný fakt: slovenský teolog pravděpodobně nečetl hlavní díla kritizovaného autora. Pokouším se některé nejvážnější omyly uvést na správnou míru a v rámci diskuze přiblížit, jak Singer skutečně smýšlí o speciesismu a o svém preferenčním utilitarismu.
The well-known book by Peter Singer The Liberation of Animals has not only inspired a series of texts defending the rights and interests of animals, but has also provoked a discussion about what humanity is, what meaning can our belonging to the human kind have for us, and whether Singer’ critique of the “human prejudice” is justified. The paper considers two important defenders of “human prejudice”, B. A. O. Williams and C. Diamond, who both claim the concept of human being to be a basic ethical concept. In the first part, we will present Williams’s argument that solidarity and identity with one’s species doesn’t have the structure of a blameworthy privilege similar to sexism and racism. In the second part, we will proceed to Diamond’s conception of human being that is founded in relations and responses towards the other. Just as our treatment of a human being depends on whether we see this person as our fellow, so our treatment of an animal depends on how we see it. In the last part, we will consider Diamond’s illustration of how it is possible to change our perception of an animal and thus to change our treatment of it.
Can western human society apply its definition of the term “animal” on itself? Is it possible that a “person” is not only human? In this article, I explore and analyze various and interdisciplinary doctrines and approaches towards nonhuman animals in order to question the current status-quo regarding nonhuman animals. Throughout history, as Man developed self-awareness and the ability to empathize with others, hunters were associated with wolves and began to domesticate them and other animals. With the introduction of different religions and beliefs into human society, Man was given the lead in the food chain, and the status of the nonhuman animals became objectified and subject of the property of human animals. Common modern taxonomy identified and described approximately 1.9 million different species. Some estimate the total number of species on earth in 8.7 million. The Human is just one of 5,416 other species in the Mammal class and shares a place of honour among hundreds of other Primates and Great Apes. It appears to be commonly and scientifically accepted that humans are animals. Humans, as other nonhuman animals, all meet the definitions of the term. However, it seems that there is a wide gap between the human-generated definitions (HGDs) and the human social practice that created a distinct line between humans and “animals”. This alienation is best illustrated by the commonly mistaken equivalence between the terms “human” and “person”, as at least some nonhuman animals answer to many other HGDs. In this article I try to show that a rational and logical interpretation of these definitions’ nonhuman animals (at least some), should be regarded as persons and to suggest an approach to implement in the future.
The first segment of the zooethical article about cockroaches, insects of the order Blattodea, who have lived on Earth for more than 300 million years (cf. Grush, 2016) and will survive the apocalypse of climate change, is based on research by Russian folklorist Aleksandr V. Gura (Гура, 2005), who gives examples of beliefs about cockroaches from the Russian ethnotradition, which I then compare with examples from the Croatian ethnotradition.In the second part of the article, I problematize the contemporary attitude towards cockroaches, starting from the literary reality of the novel Kiklop (Cyclops, 1965) by Ranko Marinković – from “Maar-commercial” (“Maar-tonfilmska reklama”), Melkior’s critique of the ad-centric worldview that begins with his exit from the public toilet in the central town square. The ways in which insecticides are used against cockroaches (and other insects considered by modern civilization as pests) demonstrates that in the past at least some cultures – as Russian ethnotradition demonstrates – were far more considerate of cockroaches, as we suggested in the first part of this dichotomously structured article.
Content available remote Má človek vo vesmíre zvláštne postavenie medzi inými živočíchmi?
In our discussion about the value of human life various attitudes appear at different levels, influenced by diverse philosophical approaches. A notable role is played by the attitudes and theory of Peter Singer in influencing some Slovak philosophers. In this paper we advance several observations on Singer’s theory of speciesism, especially from the view of philosophical and theological ethics. We are above all concerned with authors from German-speaking areas, who have focused on speciesism in their theories. The aim of this paper is not to logically refute the theory, but rather to show its shortcomings and to offer reasons why it should not be accepted. In the concluding part we attempt to turn around the case in support of research into human embryos and human-embryo stem-cells. It is those who support such research, we argue, who should clearly demonstrate that a human embryo is not a person and that, in the cause of scientific enquiry, they can be used and killed.
V diskusiách o hodnote a počiatku ľudského života sa aj v našich slovenských pomeroch objavujú, na rozličných úrovniach, rozmanité postoje, ktoré sú často ovplyvnené rozdielnymi filozofickými prúdmi a zmýšľaním. V posledných rokoch k tomu prispieva aj stupňujúci sa vplyv myslenia, vo Viedni narodeného Austrálčana, Petra Singera, pôsobiaci na viacerých slovenských filozofov. V tomto príspevku podávame niekoľko reakcií a názorov na anglosaskému mysleniu blízku Singerovu teóriu druhizmu (speciesizmu) a iné jeho názory z pohľadu filozofickej a teologickej etiky. Priblížime si hlavne názory autorov z nemecky hovoriaceho prostredia, ktorí sa vo svojich dielach venujú aj posúdeniu jeho teórie druhizmu. Nemecko totiž dodnes bojuje s následkami nacizmu, teda s nočnou morou 20. storočia, ktorá úzko súvisí práve s touto teóriou. Cieľom príspevku však nie je logicky vyvrátiť Singerovu teóriu, ale poukázať na jej nedostatky a zdôrazniť dôvody, prečo ju nie je možné z etického hľadiska akceptovať. V záverečnej časti sa pokúšame otočiť argumentovanie smerom k tým, ktorí preferujú výskum na ľudských embryách a na ľudských embryonálnych kmeňových bunkách. Práve títo odborníci by sa mali, podľa nás, podujať jasne dokázať, že v prípade ľudských embryí nejde o človeka (alebo osobu), a teda že v rámci výskumu môžu byť ľubovoľne použité, a teda i usmrtené.
The subject of the literary study proposed in the title is the triptych by Josip Mlakić, which follows the convention of a futuristic anti-utopia. The work provides research material amenable to the application of diverse, interdisciplinary methodological tools (from ecocriticism to animal studies). In addition to the symbolic framing of the issue of dogs in cultural history, the starting point for the reflections on the post-apocalyptic vision of the totalitarian world (through which further wars swept and disturbed the ecosystem) is the post-humanist and post-anthropocentric perspective of the present and future human condition, with a particular focus on species chauvinism. In the Bosnian-Herzegovinian writer’s anti-war prose, speciesism (seen from the perspective of the complex relationship between dogs and humans) is also manifested in the blurring of the boundary between the concepts of animalism and humanity, in a vision of the world in which homo crudelis proves to be the greatest threat. In the world depicted by Mlakić, the relations between the man and the dog can be defined as an example of companion species, “nanoculture” realised in diverse “contact areas”. There also arises the question of hierarchical relations between people, entities with weak subjectivity: the excluded, the marginalised and all exterminated Others, including the disabled, who become subordinated “dogs” with the status of victims. The anticipated result of the study will be to present the function of literature as a source of reflection and a medium of expression (an invention, attributed to the humans) in relation to the concept of the twilight of anthropocentrism.
Przedmiotem analizy literaturoznawczej zaproponowanej w powyższym tytule jest tryptyk Josipa Mlakicia, utrzymany w konwencji futurystycznej antyutopii. Dzieło stanowi materiał badawczy podatny na zastosowanie różnorodnych, interdyscyplinarnych narzędzi metodologicznych (od ekokrytyki po animal studies). Poza symbolicznym ujęciem problematyki psów w historii kultury, punktem wyjścia dla rozważań nad postapokaliptyczną wizją świata totalitarnego, przez który przetoczyły się kolejne wojny, naruszające ekosystem, jest posthumanistyczna i postanatropocentryczna optyka obecnej i przyszłej kondycji ludzkiej, ze szczególnym uwzględnieniem szowinizmu gatunkowego. W antywojennej prozie bośniacko-hercegowińskiego pisarza gatunkowizm (speciesism), postrzegany przez pryzmat złożonych relacji ludzi i psów, przejawia się również w postaci zacierania granicy między pojęciem zwierzęcości i człowieczeństwa, w wizji świata, w której największym zagrożeniem okazuje się homo crudelis. W świecie przedstawionym Mlakicia relacje między człowiekiem a psem można zdefiniować jako przykład symbiotycznej kooperacji (companion species), „naturokultury”, realizowanej w rozmaitych „strefach kontaktu”. Pojawia się także kwestia zhierarchizowanych stosunków między ludźmi, bytów o słabej podmiotowości: ludzi wykluczonych, zmarginalizowanych i eksterminowanych wszelkich Innych, w tym niepełnosprawnych, stających się podporządkowanymi „psami”, o statusie ofiar. Oczekiwany efekt przeprowadzanego wywodu dotyczyć będzie ukazania funkcji literatury jako źródła refleksji i medium ekspresji (wynalazku, przypisanego człowiekowi), w odniesieniu do koncepcji zmierzchu antropocentryzmu.
One of the main causes of the ethical ambivalence in the attitude of homo sapiens species towards other living creatures is its utilitarian and anthropocentric mindset which permeates practical decisions and judgments. Socio-ecological conditioning of the human-animal relations to which the former contributed through practices and habits (habitus) largely designating the so called cultural norms (at least in Bourdieu’s conception) have thus far legitimized speciesism as well as disablement and exclusion of animals from  the advantages of technology and veterinary medicine, which in turn would strengthen their position in the face of continual exploitation  in favor of man. Since few decades this state of affairs has been changing; man’s ethical consciousness in respect of the predicament, state of mind and well–being of other living creatures is rising. The encounter of man with different non-human beings who do not know human forms of auto-expression or communication  became possible through the discovery of science – as well as philosophy’s and particularly ethics’ indication – of common properties and socio-cognitive capabilities: including fellow feeling which in case of a human being is followed by consciousness, understanding, interpretation, as well as relevant decisions and actions. This common denominator among species is waiting for further exploration and redefinition in terms of ethics. That is exactly what constitutes the requirement for improvement of the condition of other species in the world exploited by human kind. Many academic disciplines contribute to the unceasing widening of the moral horizon (empathy, fellow feeling, responsibility, solidarity, readiness to care and help)  so that it could embrace over time as many individuals representing species outside homo sapiens as possible. Veterinary medicine and palliative care create conditions that foster the rebuilding of a caring relationship between man and other living creatures, opening at the same time door to recognition and meaningful relations (in Ricoeur’s terms), understanding and love of the universe of life (bios) that man shares with other species.
Anthropocentrism and Speciesism in the Context of Environmental Studies. A Synoptic Introduction
This article is theoretically grounded in a reflection on the discursive-material knot, which uses a macro-(con)textual approach to discourse, but also allocates a non-hierarchical position to the material, recognizing its agency. The article uses the ontological model to further theorize the discursive-material struggles of, and over, nature, and in particular of non-human animals. These theoretical frameworks are then deployed to reflect on the “Silencing/Unsilencing Nature” project (and its diverse subprojects). This is an arts-based research project which aims to unpack the discursive-material relationship between humans and nature, and how nature often has been silenced, focusing on the position of the wolf in the zoo assemblage, and how these animals are discursively and materially entrapped. At the same time, the “Silencing/Unsilencing Nature” project investigates how this situation can be changed, and how their voices can still be made audible, gain more strength and become further unsilenced.
Content available Human dignity, speciesism, and the value of life
Artykuł ten podejmuje dyskusję dotyczącą wartości życia. Szczególnie odnosi się on do idei gatunkowizmu – terminu sformułowanego przez Petera Singera. W jego intencji termin ten oznacza szczególne znaczenie życia ze względu na jego przynależność do gatunku Homo sapiens. Dla Singera jest to przykład błędnego myślenia. W tym ujęciu idea godności ludzkiej jest wysoce problematyczna. W artykule tym autor prezentuje liczne głosy krytyczne, tak o naturze metodologicznej jak i ontologicznej, skierowane przeciw sceptycznemu spojrzeniu na przynależność gatunkową. Autor utrzymuje, że gatunki naturalne odgrywają ważną role w istniejącej rzeczywistości. Próbuje on również wykazać, że dziedzina życia powinna być łączona z tak zwaną wartością wewnętrzną. W świetle tego każda żyjąca bytowość posiada swe znaczenie aksjologiczne i powinna być oceniana i traktowana w zgodności z tym. Ludzka godność – w tym myśleniu – łączy się ze szczególną pozycją nadawaną przez wartość życia. W artykule wysuwa się konkluzję, że stanowisko opowiadające się za ludzką godnością nie zostało zakwestionowane i może być dalej rozwijane.
This paper deals with a discussion concerning the value of life. Specifically, it addresses the idea of speciesism, a term coined by Peter Singer, whereby human life is endowed with special significance because of its membership in the species Homo sapiens. For Singer, it is an example of erroneous thinking. On such an account, the idea of human dignity seems to be highly problematic. In this article, the author directs a number of critical voices, both methodological and ontological, toward scepticism concerning a species belonging. He argues that natural species play quite important roles in the existing reality. The author further tries to prove that the realm of life should be associated with a so-called intrinsic value. In the light of that, any living entity possesses its axiological importance and should be considered and treated accordingly. Human dignity is a corollary of the special place accorded in such reasoning by the value of human life. The article concludes with a thesis that the stance arguing for human dignity is still unthreatened and ready for further development.
The aim of this study is to refute the frequent and repeated critical objections to Singer’s almost four-decades-old argument against speciesism. These objections are based, above all, on misunderstanding. There is misunderstanding not only of the argument itself, but also of Singer’s methodological starting point, which we have termed “Singer’s ethical razor”. In the text we show why it is not possible to reject Singer’s utilitarian argument only by rejecting utilitarianism en bloc. In the same way, we show why it is not appropriate to charge Singer with failing to extend his ethics to include plants and lifeless nature. In fact the opposite is true because Singer clearly demonstrates how environmental ethics relating to the protection of the wild can be based on the same principle of the equal consideration of interests which is the basis for the moral unacceptability of speciesism.
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