Ethics and/or Politics: Approaching the Issues Concerning Nonhuman Animals

Ethics and/or Politics: Approaching the Issues Concerning Nonhuman Animals


University of Birmingham
April 9, 2015 8:00 am — April 10, 2015 5:00 pm
Room G51, European Research Institute (ERI), University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK

Contact Andrew Woodhall for more information.

More information

The conference will take place at the University of Birmingham on the 9th and 10th of April, 2015.
Guest speakers include:

The conference is in association with, and supported by: the Society for Applied Philosophy, the Mind Association, the Aristotelian Society, Minding Animals International, and the University of Birmingham College of Arts and Law and School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion
The recent turn in nonhuman ethics — from ethics to political theory — has raised many questions of how is best to approach theorizing about, and the most effective and convincing practical solutions regarding, nonhuman animals. At the same time individual issues in nonhuman ethics continue to be debated and increase in both social and political importance; yet the connection between the recent turn and these issues, and what the effects may be, remains untapped.
This conference shall consider this current political question in how nonhuman ethics ought to proceed and ask how this relates to practical issues within the area, and the effect it will have on society.

The conference will address (but is not limited to) issues such as:
  1. How we ought to intervene for nonhumans (peacefully, not at all, violently, and so on)’ and whether the introduction of political/legal/ethical questions affects our conclusions on these matters.
  2. Whether concepts of personhood are adequate in nonhuman ethics when politics/law is introduced (e.g. companies and items can be legal persons, what effect does/should this have if we open the field)’.
  3. Which approach ought we to take towards ‘animal ethics’ and its issues; ethics, politics, or both? Would the introduction of political and legal approaches affect our conclusions on the issues? (E.g. such as on ‘personhood’). If there are effects what would this mean for issues relating to humans (such as poverty, hunger, activism, and civil disobedience).
  4. Other issues that relate to the theme (such as what the impact of this move/these questions could have on areas that concern humans; e.g. civil intervention, protest aims, hunger, etc).
  5. Different approaches towards traditional problems (e.g. factory farming, experimentation, etc) and newer debates (e.g. in-vitro meat, debates on what to do about (and our relations with) wild and ‘liminal’ nonhumans, and questions about ‘living space’ (both within and without human habitation))
  6. What the human relation with nonhumans is or should be, what this means for the human, what approach (ethics/politics, et al) would be more adequate for this, and what this means for ‘animal ethics’ and its issues (e.g. human relation to the biosphere and its implications).

The aim of the conference is to bring the ‘political turn’ question into relation with the issues, not just the general theory, and to apply them to actual, practical concerns that can be put forward for a real-world impact. The purpose of this is three-fold: (1) this link has yet to be explored, (2) such questions raise new and interesting avenues in the debates that will have a practical impact on the discipline and, hopefully, social aims, and (3) nonhuman issues, in current academia (at least in the UK) is often swept aside under current ‘practical/economic concerns’ — this conference aims to show that nonhuman ethics (and each discipline involved) has practical impact, interdisciplinary reach, and real-world relevance.
By drawing on interdisciplinary views the conference aims to move theorizing within the area forward while also providing insight into the most effective approach for both practical and theoretical issues, as well as providing further thought for research.