November 14, 2014
Do animals have a a right not to be eaten by human beings? Do they have a right not to be used as instrumentalities by humans? If they do have such rights, are these part of a larger constellation of rights such as the right to procreate freely without the interference of human beings? If animals have rights, what is the basis for their possession of rights? Do all or only some animals have rights? Do those animals that have rights all have the same rights, or do different animals have different rights?
So asks Gary Steiner, the John Howard Harris Professor of Philosophy at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, halfway into his book, Animals and the Limits of Postmodernism (Columbia University Press 2013).
And if we can imagine and create some rights for animals, as proposed by several early Greek philosophers—Pythagoras, Theophrastus; by Rousseau in the 18th century and Darwin in the 19th, and most specifically, in terms of rights, by Australian philosopher Peter Singer in his seminal work Animal Liberation (1975), then where does that leave us, as humans?
The courage to speak out for animal rights, for a new moral relationship between species, is explored by Gary Steiner in this interview from June 2013, recorded in Victoria, BC.