Friday, September 23, 2011

ARZone Podcast 15: Prof. Oscar Horta - Anti-Speciesism

Episode 15 features special guest, professor of moral philosophy and member of Spanish animal rights group, Equanimal, Oscar Horta who discusses the plight of the Spanish 12, his position on free-living individuals, his thoughts on why environmentalism is not aligned with animal rights or anti speciesism, and much more.

You may also LISTEN HERE.


gsv said...

The two "lesser known" theorists mentioned by Professor Horta in this podcast:

Evelyn Pluhar - Beyond Prejudice: The Moral Significance of Human and Nonhuman Animals

Julian Franklin - Animal Rights and Moral Philosophy

ARZone said...

Thank you for those links, GSV!

Brandon Becker said...

I disagree with Oscar Horta's view of "environmentalism." One can hold an environmentalist view that is about preserving biological diversity, protecting air, water, soil, and preventing other environmental problems while still incorporating an animal rights view that regards animals as individuals rather than species representatives. These views are already integrated when it comes to humans and our individual rights so it should be the same with our relations to members of other species.

I also disagree with Horta's view supporting managing natural predator-prey relations. This is just another form of human supremacy and speciesist domination. It's also impractical and would lead to ecological disaster.

All this said, I agree completely that we should stop privileging certain animal ethics theorists and instead read a wide variety of views, create our own views, learn from experience, and work in solidarity with each other.

Carolyn Bailey said...

I agree with your comment, Brandon, in regard to free living individuals.

I don't believe humans have a right to interfere with the biology of free living animals, or to decide which other animals deserve to live and die, based on what makes us comfortable. I share Lee Hall's view on this, and believe we should be allowing free living animals to live on their own terms wherever possible.

I completely agree with your last paragraph on creating our own views and making our reading and learning as diversified as possible too.

timgier said...

Hi Brandon, I agree with you about the possibility of incorporating an anti-speciesist framework within an environmentalist view. I suppose that Dr. Horta would agree that it is possible as well. I think his view is that environmentalism as it commonly practiced elevates "the biosphere" above the interests of actual individuals, and as an egalitarian concerned foremost with living sentient beings, he finds that unacceptable. (If I am misinterpreting Dr. Horta, I apologize).

When it comes to predator/prey relationships, it seems to me that irrespective of whatever practical obstacles there are, if we assume, for example, that antelopes, if given the choice, would rather not be eaten by lions, just as we assume that they would rather not be shot and killed by human hunters, then we ought to try to prevent lions from eating antelopes - as long as doing so doesn't cause some greater harm to someone else. Otherwise, I think we are left to say that while I will not kill antelopes myself, there is nothing I should do try to stop others from killing antelopes. In other words, do I have any obligation other than do no harm myself? In any case, I can't see how it matters that we might think it natural for lions to kill antelopes, as if the fact alone means that no-one ought to help antelopes avoid being so killed. I agree that the practical obstacles might be insurmountable now, but I can't see any reason to think that it is or will remain actually impossible to alter predator/prey relationships to the benefit of all concerned.

Finally, I completely agree with your concluding thoughts.

Brandon Becker said...

Tim, you are not giving equal consideration to the lion, who is hungry and trying to survive. By interfering with predation, you privilege the survival of the prey (the antelope, who may escape anyway) and discriminate against the predator (the lion, who may not be successful at the kill anyway) based on their species' biology. While it's true that if you were an antelope you would take help to prevent being killed, it's also true that if you were a lion you would not want your hunt being interfered with to prevent you from killing to survive. Nonintervention is the egalitarian solution.

And as I've said before, I think David Pearce's view that humans should act as gods and manage all life on Earth through technology is dystopian and shows how domesticated and alienated from nature some humans have become living in industrial civilization.

jason said...

Brandon, I think you're overlooking the fact that a lion must regularly kill antelopes (or other creatures) to survive. Rather, you seem to be comparing the interests of a single antelope to a single lion. Is that right?

Also, I'm pretty sure no one is suggesting an intervention in which lions are stymied in the midst of their hunts. The question is really whether we try to affect lion populations in the future through for instance non-harmful birth control methods.

Have you read Tyler Cowen's article Policing Nature? I think it well addresses the concern you raise in your last paragraph. That is, we needn't adopt Pearcean views to motivate a moral argument that we should be doing something to help wild animals.

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