Wednesday, March 9, 2011

03.10.11 : Idea Entry : Speciesism

Speciesism : a belief of humans that all other species of animals are inferior and may therefore be used for human benefit without regard to the suffering inflicted.

Speciesism is a term coined by Richard Ryder in 1970. The word refers to the widely held belief that the human species is inherently superior to other species and so has rights or privileges that are denied to other sentient animals. ‘Speciesism’ can also be used to describe the oppressive behavior, cruelty, prejudice and discrimination that are associated with such a belief. In a more restricted sense, speciesism can refer to such beliefs and behaviors if they are based upon the species-difference alone, as if such a difference is, in itself, a justification.

Philosopher Tom Regan argues that all animals have inherent rights and that we cannot assign them a lesser value because of a perceived lack of rationality, while assigning a higher value to infants and the mentally impaired solely on the grounds of being members of a specific species. Others argue that this valuation of a human infant, a human fetus, or a mentally impaired person is justified, not because the fetus is a fully rational human person from conception, nor because the mentally impaired are rational to the same degree as other human beings; but because the teleological and genetic orientation of any human being from conception is to develop into a rational human being and not any other creature, and because all humans have an implicit origination from two genetically human beings, and hence, both a primary genetic orientation and primary origination as the reproduction of other human beings, even if in a not fully developed state or if partially impaired. In this view, anyone who is born of human parents has the rights of human persons from conception, because the natural process of reproduction has already been initiated in biologically human organisms.

"Whenever you see a bird in a cage, fish in a tank, or nonhuman mammal on a chain, you're seeing speciesism. If you believe that a bee or frog has less right to life and liberty than a chimpanzee or human, or you consider humans superior to other animals, you subscribe to speciesism. If you visit aquaprisons and zoos, attend circuses that include "animal acts," wear nonhuman skin or hair, or eat flesh, eggs, or cow-milk products, you practice speciesism. If you campaign for more-"humane" slaughter of chickens or less-cruel confinement of pigs, you perpetuate speciesism." - Speciesism, Joan Dunayer

“Speciesism is destined to become the definitive statement of the abolitionist animal rights position, not only in philosophy but also for the law and for conducting animal rights advocacy. With uncompromising clarity and abundant, up-to-date evidence, Joan Dunayer details the logical conclusions of the basic animal rights proposition that all that is required for moral rights is the ability to suffer. Her keen ear for speciesist language and her sharp eye for logical inconsistency provide a wealth of information, insights, and thought provocation even for those who have been active in the animal rights movement for decades, and her criticisms of the hierarchical variety of speciesism still found in the writings of some of the best-known advocates of animal rights will provide a constructive focus for lively discussion both within and beyond that movement.”—Steve F. Sapontzis, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, California State University, Hayward and author of Morals, Reason, and Animals

I came across this word when I was doing research and was unaware of its meaning. I assumed it had a negative connotation and had to do with prejudices against animals. After reading more about it and looking at various quotes and books relating to the subject the word itself does not have any connection to my work. If it does I have a problem. I do not want my images to be looked at an an animal rights statement but as the communication, connection, and consciousness between species.


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