Levinasian Ethics and Animal Rights

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

What can we say, in good faith, about the moral status of animals? This article explores the above question through the prism of Emmanuel Levinas’ theory of ethics. I begin by examining the ambiguous position of non-human animals in Levinas’ writings. I argue that Levinas’ theory is best read as suggesting that nonhumans present claims for recognition as ethical beings, but that these demands have a different character to those presented by humans. I then explore the implications of Levinas’ view of ethics for the structure of moral reasoning. I contend that Levinas’ theory yields a conception of moral reasoning as reflective, good faith engagement with primordial social judgements of ethical significance. In the final part of the article, I suggest that it is both possible and constructive to thematise the ethical claims of non-human animals in the language of rights. Indeed, from a Levinasian perspective, animal rights might properly be viewed as a model for the notion of human rights, since they capture the essential asymmetry of the ethical encounter.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-328
Number of pages16
JournalWindsor Yearbook of Access to Justice
Volume26
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Levinasian Ethics and Animal Rights'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this