[csaa-forum] John Hadley on Death, Confinement and Concern for Animal Pain

Philosophy@UWS Philosophy at uws.edu.au
Mon Apr 9 12:22:56 CST 2012

The Writing & Society Research Centre and the Philosophy Research Initiative at UWS presents following seminar on Wednesday April 18:

SPEAKER: John Hadley
School of Humanities and Communication Arts
University of Western Sydney

TITLE: Death, Confinement and Concern for Animal Pain

TIME: April 18, 2-4pm

PLACE: UWS Bankstown Campus, 3.G.55

ABSTRACT: The focus of this presentation is moral epistemology in animal ethics, specifically, how we come to know whether animals are harmed when they are confined or painlessly killed. In contrast to orthodox approaches which answer the question with exclusive reference to animal mental states, I address the question with reference to public concern for animals-a concern that is supposed to be reflected in prevailing pain-focused animal protection institutions (animal welfare and animal cruelty legislation and norms).
I will argue that when lay people register concern for animals by using specific moral terms, they are expressing a concern for animal pain that goes beyond a concern for simply how pain actually feels 'on the inside'. My argument is that if the phenomenology of an animal's pain matters, then this suggests that its life and the kind of life it leads are also appropriate topics for deliberation. Thinking about concern for pain in this new expansive way entails that the rationale and implications of pain-focused institutions are likewise broadened to include death and confinement.
My relational approach to the harm of death and confinement is an element in a theory of animal ethics I call insurgent amelioration.  Insurgent amelioration is pragmatist insofar as it aims to reform rather than revolutionise by identifying scope for progress within existing institutions and norms. The focus on institutions as the site of moral progress marks insurgent amelioration as consistent with the feasibility approach to deliberative democracy recently advanced by Bohman. My focus on ordinary valuing practices, particularly the moral vocabulary people employ when they register concern for animal pain, suggests the paper can be read as a practical application of the kind of New Pragmatism advanced by Macarthur and Price.

BIO: John Hadley is Research Lecturer in Philosophy in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts at University of Western Sydney.  He was formerly a lecturer in philosophy in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Lecturer in Communication Ethics in the School of Communication, at Charles Sturt University. During his PhD candidature at the University of Sydney, John lectured in the philosophy department and was a guest lecturer for USYD Laboratory Animal Services. He has published on a wide range of topics in animal and environmental ethics, including recent papers on assisting wild animals in need, animal rights extremism, the reporting of animal research in the media,  and the ethical limits of veterinary expenditure. In his theory of animal 'property rights', John proposes the use of guardianship for endangered species as a habitat protection and biodiversity conservation tool.

For the entire 2012 program of the Philosophy seminar series at UWS see: http://www.uws.edu.au/philosophy/philosophy@uws/events/research_seminars_2012
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