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Carrie Figdor, , . The Psychological Speciesism of Humanism
2020, Philosophical Studies [forthcoming]
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Carrie Figdor

Abstract: Humanists argue for assigning the highest moral status to all humans over any non-humans directly or indirectly on the basis of uniquely superior human cognitive abilities. They may also claim that humanism is the strongest position from which to combat racism, sexism, and other forms of within-species discrimination. I argue that changing conceptual foundations in comparative research and discoveries of advanced cognition in many non-human species reveal humanism’s psychological speciesism and its similarity with common justifications of within-species discrimination.

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Freeland, Cynthia, , . Animals
2010, in: Portraits & Persons, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 4-41.
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Added by: Hans Maes, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Summary: Defines a portrait as a representation of a living being as a unique individual possessing (1) a recognizable physical body along with (2) an inner life. A third condition is that the subject consciously presents a self to be conveyed in the resulting artwork. Pictures of animals can meet the first two criteria, but not the third.

Comment: Freeland lays ground for a definition of portraits, offering a great introduction to the topic of portraiture, and representation in general. The text can inspire interesting discussions on the possible differences in depicting humans, animals and objects.

Artworks to use with this text:

George Stubbs, Whistlejacket (1761-2)

Freeland disputes the image's status as a portrait partly because of how formulaic it appears.

Jill Greenberg, Monkey Portraits (2006)

The artist anthropomorphizes the animals, as is evident in the titles she chose for some of the works ('The Misanthrope', 'Oy Veh'). So, do they qualify as portraits?

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Humphreys, , . Dignity and its violation examined within the context of animal ethics
2016, Ethics and the Environment 21 (2):143-162
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Rebekah Humphreys

Abstract: The word ‘dignity’ may be used in a presentational sense, for example, one might say “she presents herself with dignity”, or in a social sense, for example, one might say “she fulfilled her duty with dignity, or honour.” However, in this paper I will not be using ‘dignity’ in either of these senses. Rather, the sense of dignity I will be concerned with is one that is related to ideas about the value or worth of a being. This latter sense of dignity has a long history, and tends to be a concept that is thought to be applicable to human animals only, and more specifically to human persons—moral agents, capable of rationality, of directing their own lives, and of formulating…

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Humphreys, , . Suffering, Sentientism, and Sustainability: An Analysis of a Non-Anthropocentric Moral Framework for Climate Ethics
2020, Brian G. Henning, Zack Walsh (eds.), Climate Change Ethics and the Non-human World. Routledge Taylor Francis Group, 49-62
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Rebekah Humphreys

Abstract: In the light of the current environmental crisis, different approaches to mitigating climate change have been put forward, some more plausible than others. However, despite problems with anthropocentric approaches to global warming (whether these be weak or strong versions of the approach), it seems that because of the largely anthropocentric outlook of the Western world, an internationally united approach to mitigating climate change will (perhaps inevitably) come from human-centred values. But what are the long-term implications of this? Such values need to be at the very least challenged if we are interested in providing justifiable and sustainable solutions to the current crisis. Indeed, this paper will analyse sentientism as an alternative environmental ethic stance and will discuss why it provides a more plausible approach than anthropocentric ones whilst recognising where it falls short.

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Humphreys, Rebekah , , . Biocentrism
2016, Encyclopedia of Global Bioethics, Springer
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Rebekah Humphreys

Abstract: The orthodox approach to the environment and its inhabitants is deemed to be anthropocentric in that it recognises the moral standing of human beings alone, and as such other beings are given at the most indirect moral consideration when their interests conflict with the interests of humans. However, many global environmental problems and worldwide practices directly affect not just human beings but many other creatures too. In the light of this, the anthropocentric approach has been accused by some philosophers of being too narrowly focused on human interests to creditably account for the true extent of our moral obligations. This article provides a conceptual outline of biocentrism as an alternative approach to ethics; one which widens the moral scope to include all living beings as candidates deserving of moral consideration. The article also discusses how this approach might be applied to contemporary ethical issues which are international in their dimension, including environmental issues, as well as issues concerning our use of animals in worldwide human practices.

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Humphreys, Rebekah , , . Games, Fair-Play and a Sporting-Chance: A Conceptual Analysis of Blood-Sports
2020, Yearbook of the Irish Philosophical Society, 2017/18: Special Edition: Humans and Other Animals, 96-114
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Rebekah Humphreys

Abstract: The killing of Cecil the lion in 2015 by a trophy hunter sparked a global debate regarding the killing of lions for ‘sport’. While many were outraged by Cecil’s killing, Cecil was just one of the millions of animals that have been used in the sports-shooting industry. Cecil’s killing brings with it the question of whether so-called ‘blood sports’ (whether these involve killing big game or smaller animals) are actually ‘sports’ at all, in the ordinary sense. As such, this paper aims to provide an analysis of blood-sport as a concept. The objective will be to examine whether blood-sports are games and to analyse to what extent, if any, blood-sports can be called ‘sports’ properly. Such an analysis will be presented through employing a generalised notion of sport and through a discussion of fair-play. Pace S. P. Morris (2014) who argues that hunting which incorporates a fair-chase code is a game and a sport, this current paper concludes that it is doubtful that blood-sport is a game, and that even if one assumes that it is a game, it cannot be classed as sport, and further that any fair-chase code undermines itself in the context of so-called ‘blood-sports’.

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Humphreys, Rebekah , , . Rights, Interests and Moral Standing: A Critical Examination of Dialogue between Regan and Frey
2011, Issues in Ethics and Animal Rights, Manish Vyas (ed.), Regency Publications
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Rebekah Humphreys

Abstract: This paper aims to assess R. G. Frey’s analysis of Leonard Nelson’s argument (that links interests to rights). Frey argues that claims that animals have rights or interests have not been established. Frey’s contentions that animals have not been shown to have rights nor interests will be discussed in turn, but the main focus will be on Frey’s claim that animals have not been shown to have interests. One way Frey analyses this latter claim is by considering H. J. McCloskey’s denial of the claim and Tom Regan’s criticism of this denial. While Frey’s position on animal interests does not depend on McCloskey’s views, he believes that a consideration of McCloskey’s views will reveal that Nelson’s argument (linking interests to rights) has not been established as sound. My discussion (of Frey’s scrutiny of Nelson’s argument) will centre on the dialogue between Regan and Frey in respect of McCloskey’s argument. I will endeavor to update the dialogue by providing a re-interpretation of ‘rights’ in Nelson’s argument.

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Humphreys, Rebekah , , . The Argument from Existence, Blood-Sports, and ‘Sport-Slaves’
2014, Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 27 (2): 331-345
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Rebekah Humphreys

Abstract: The argument from existence is often used as an attempted justification for our use of animals in commercial practices, and is often put forward by lay-persons and philosophers alike. This paper provides an analysis of the argument from existence primarily within the context of blood-sports (applying the argument to the example of game-birding), and in doing so addresses interesting and related issues concerning the distinction between having a life and living, or worthwhile life and mere existence, as well as issues surrounding our responsibilities to prospective and actual beings. However, my analysis of the argument will go beyond the animal ethics context; it is important that it does so in order to reveal the troublesome implications of the argument and to highlight the sorts of unethical practices it supports. In particular, in applying the argument to a relevant example concerning human beings, I will discuss how the argument from existence could be used to justify the ownership of slaves who were reared for slavery. My objective is to show just how problematic the argument from existence is, with the aim of laying the argument to rest once and for all.

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Humphreys, Rebekah , Watson, Kate, . The Killing Floor and Crime Narratives: Marking Women and Nonhuman Animals
2019, Kate Watson, Katharine Cox (eds.), Tattoos in crime and detective narratives, Manchester University Press, 170-196
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Björn Freter

This interdisciplinary chapter provides a literary reading and philosophical analyses of issues surrounding the depiction of women and of nonhuman animals in a subgenre of contemporary crime narratives – what this chapter terms ‘killing floor’ crime fiction. This is achieved through a focus on the function of the tattoo, ‘markings’ in a broad sense (both metaphorically and physically) and the gendered elements of animal representations in crime fiction. Through an analysis of the significance of marking skin, the chapter links the exploitation and objectification of the bodies of women and of nonhuman animals. In doing so, it compares the use of animals in modern-day killing floor practices and the position of women in contemporary crime fiction. Through forcible marking and scarification, this chapter raises pertinent interrelated ethical issues concerning the perceptions of women, their societal status and the commercial use of nonhuman animals.

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Midgley, Mary, , . The Concept of Beastliness: Philosophy, Ethics and Animal Behaviour
1973, Philosophy 48 (184):111-135
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Added by: Anne-Marie McCallion, Contributed by:

Introduction: Every age has its pet contradictions. Thirty years ago, we used to accept Marx and Freud together, and then wonder, like the chameleon on the tartan, why life was so confusing. Today there is similar trouble over the question whether there is, or is not, something called Human Nature. On the one hand, there has been an explosion of animal behaviour studies, and comparisons between animals and men have become immensely popular. People use evidence from animals to decide whether man is naturally aggressive, or naturally territorial; even whether he has an Aggressive or Territorial Instinct. On the other hand, many sociologists and psychologists still seem to hold the Behaviourist view that man is a creature entirely without instincts, and so do existentialist philosophers. If so, all comparison with animals must be irrelevant. On that view, man is entirely the product of his culture. He starts off infinitely plastic, and is formed completely by the society in which he grows up.

Comment: This text offers a relatively accessible and vibrant discussion of the concept of human nature as well as what can be learned philosophically about humanity by examining it in relation to the surrounding environment. It would be suitable for political theory classes – especially in relation to discussions on the State of Nature, Animal Ethics or Environmental ethics. Background knowledge of existing theories on human nature would be helpful though are not necessary in order to access the text.

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Warren, Mary Anne, , . Moral status: obligations to persons and other living things
1997, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Publisher’s description: Mary Anne Warren investigates a theoretical question that is at the centre of practical and professional ethics: what are the criteria for having moral status? That is: what does it take to be an entity towards which people have moral considerations? Warren argues that no single property will do as a sole criterion, and puts forward seven basic principles which establish moral status. She then applies these principles to three controversial moral issues: voluntary euthanasia, abortion, and the status of non-human animals.

Comment: Particular chapters are useful in teaching on the applied ethics of abortion, euthanasia and obligations towards non-human animals.

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