Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

Talk at Bogazici, Beril Idemen Sozmen (ITU), “Anattā and Animal Ethics”

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Talk at Bogazici, Beril Idemen Sozmen

Thursday, October 15, 5-7pm, TB 310 (Anderson Hall), Bogazici University.

Please join us.

Title and abstract:

Anattā and Animal Ethics
In this talk I am going to argue that anattā – the Pali term for the Buddhist concept of no-self – has implications for ethics in general and for animal ethics in particular: Anattā as the most fundamental realisation of pañña (wisdom) is a condition of becoming the ideal moral agent. Buddhist ethics in its most comprehensive form cannot be understood without anattā but interpreted in this way it provides us with both challenge and inspiration for traditional Western debates in ethics. One of these is the tension between agent-centred and patient-centred moral theories, which also appears in the disagreement between Gary Francione and his critics. My particular thesis here is that the connection between anattā and Buddhist ethics provides us with tools, especially with the Buddhist concept of dukkha (suffering) to argue that Francione’s abolitionism is too focused on the purity of the agent and thereby fails to give due consideration to the consequences of acts of harm-reduction. Contrary to the position of Donaldson and Kymlicka in the question of suffering in the wild, some forms of dukkha continue to be moral tragedies but the Buddhist call for skilful means in dealing with dukkha taken together with anattā leads to particularist and strategic results. These do not simply conceptualise humans as moral agents and other animals as moral patients but consider them both to be at different constellations of agency and responsibility in a given encounter. One consequence of such an understanding of the moral situation is therefore the rejection of the relational aspect of abolitionism, i.e. of the minimisation of inter-species relations as Francione proposes.

Written by markedwardsteen

October 6, 2015 at 12:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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