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Animal rights and environmental ethics in Africa : From anthropocentrism to non-speciesism?


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Horsthemke, Kai:
Animal rights and environmental ethics in Africa : From anthropocentrism to non-speciesism?
In: Chemhuru, Munamato (Hrsg.): African environmental ethics : a critical reader. - Cham, Schweiz : Springer, 2019. - S. 239-253. - (The International Library of Environmental, Agricultural and Food Ethics ; 29)
ISBN 978-3-030-18806-1


The claim is frequently made on behalf of African moral beliefs and customs that African cultures do not objectify and exploit nature and natural organisms, unlike Western (or Northern) moral attitudes and practices. Through exploration of what kind of moral status is reserved for other-than-human animals in African ethics, I argued in my recent book Animals and African Ethics that moral perceptions, attitudes and practices on the African continent have tended to be resolutely anthropocentric, or human-centred. Although values like ubuntu (humanness) and ukama (relationality) have, in recent years, been expanded to include non-human nature, animals characteristically have no rights, and human duties to them are almost exclusively ‘indirect‘. Taking into account the brutal and dehumanizing ravages of colonialism, racism and political, cultural and moral apartheid that Africans have historically been subjected to, it does not seem to be wholly off the mark to invite people in sub-Sahara Africa, especially, to reflect on an even longer, more deeply-entrenched historical process of discrimination, oppression and exploitation, namely that of species apartheid. Yet, adoption of a more enlightened stance vis-à-vis the non-human world and animals in particular would almost certainly involve giving up the moral anthropocentrism that characterizes many attitudes and practices on the African continent. This need not entail surrendering what is arguably at the core of sub-Saharan morality – the emphasis on community and harmonious communal relationships. ‘I am because we are’ could reasonably be interpreted as not being confined to the human realm, as transcending the species barrier. I have in mind here something like a relational approach to animal rights and environmental ethics that is neither anthropocentric nor speciesist. The multifarious historical and geographical relationships we have with other-than-human animals give rise to a multitude of moral obligations that differ according to the kinds of relationships we find ourselves in. There is an increasing awareness among African scholars of the untenability of a rigidly species-governed ‘us-against-them’ thinking, that anthropocentrism shares many relevant features with ethnocentrism, and that speciesism is relevantly like racism. It is my aim in the proposed contribution to explore these ideas and conceptual tools in more detail.

Weitere Angaben

Publikationsform:Aufsatz in einem Buch
Schlagwörter:African ethics; animal rights; anthropocentrism; environmental ethics; speciesism; ubuntu; ukama
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: 25. Jun 2019 10:03
Letzte Änderung: 25. Jun 2019 10:03
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