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Animals and the challenges of ethnocentrism


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Horsthemke, Kai:
Animals and the challenges of ethnocentrism.
In: Cordeiro Rodrigues, Luis ; Mitchell, Les (Hrsg.): Animals, Race, and Multiculturalism. - Basingstoke/Hampshire : Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. - S. 121-146. - (The Palgrave Macmillan Animal Ethics Series)
ISBN 978-3-319-66568-9


It seems natural to argue that anthropocentrism is in animal rights theory what androcentrism is in feminist or gender theory and what ethnocentrism is in critical race theory. Natural – but also misleading, since the concept of ethnocentrism has had a variety of different functions, not all of which have had a pejorative connotation. The conceptual link between anthropocentrism, on the one hand, and ethnocentrism, on the other, is only one way in which the latter idea has become connected with moral discourses around non-human animals.
The idea of ethnocentrism has, in relation to animals, become associated with two strikingly different trends, with cultural relativism on the one hand and with cultural hegemony on the other. The association with cultural relativism dates back to the writings of late nineteenth/early twentieth century sociologist William Graham Sumner, while the latter association was forged more recently by environmental philosopher and activist Val Plumwood. Whereas Sumner takes the fact of ethnocentrism to militate against universal value judgements, Plumwood associates such judgements themselves with unreflecting ethnocentrism.
The aim of the present chapter is to expose the shortcomings not only of ethnocentrism in both its forms but also of the arguments that gave rise to this differential association, in relation to other-than-human animals. My first endeavour in this chapter involves making the case against an unqualified celebration and defence of so-called “folkways” (Sumner), while my second (following the rejection of ethnocentrism and cultural relativism) is to dispute Plumwood’s identification of “ontological veganism” as a form of ethnocentric cultural hegemony. As I will show, it is Plumwood’s own “ecological animalism” that has the odious implications not only of a thorough-going epistemological and ethical relativism but also of anthropocentrism. Against an ecological multiculturalism I propose a culturally sensitive ethical individualism. What is at stake here is nothing less than the very basis of morality.

Weitere Angaben

Publikationsform:Aufsatz in einem Buch
Schlagwörter:Animals; cultural hegemony; cultural relativism; ecological animalism; ethical individualism; ethnocentrism; folkways; ontological veganism
Institutionen der Universität:Philosophisch-Pädagogische Fakultät > Pädagogik > Lehrstuhl für Bildungsphilosophie und Systematische Pädagogik
Open Access: Freie Zugänglichkeit des Volltexts?:Nein
Begutachteter Aufsatz:Ja
Titel an der KU entstanden:Ja
Eingestellt am: 02. Jan 2018 15:15
Letzte Änderung: 02. Jan 2018 15:15
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