Contribution to Book
"Embracing Humanimality: Deconstructing the Human/Animal Dichotomy"2010 Faculty Books (2010)
AbstractIn seeking to rhetorically combat speciesism, how can animal advocates talk about humans and other animals in ways that are posthumanist? In answering this question, I draw upon posthumanist scholarship to critically analyze how these humanist tensions not only affect, but also exist within, animal rights philosophy itself, likely weakening arguments in favor of animal rights. My goal is to improve the logical basis upon which this philosophy informs animal rights advocacy. I begin by analyzing the paradoxes involving animal activists’ deployment of humanist adjectives like "humane" and "ethical," as well as tensions over whether animal rights strategies should promote humanity’s similarity to other animals or take a new tack toward embracing the diversity amongst all animals. I will suggest that animal advocates more humbly represent humans as social animals who are uniquely prone to excess, explaining the biological need for humanity’s complex ethical systems (in comparison to other social animals) as opposed to viewing human morality solely as a magnanimous cultural choice. Animal advocates’ efforts to promote humans’ ethical treatment of nonhuman animals, rather than continuing to primarily craft messages saying “they are like us,” should begin to promote the idea that “we are like them” in many ways that are worth acknowledging. However, the challenge in this focus on humanimality and expanded notions of identity is to find a way to respect the diversity represented in the animal world (in groups and individuals) so as to avoid creating new hierarchies or revised notions of “the animal other.” I, thus, conclude by presenting a blended approach as a solution to better understanding the human/nonhuman relationship.
- Critical Animal Studies,
- Strategic Communication,
- Animal Rights/Liberation,
Publication DateJanuary 1, 2010
Citation InformationFreeman, Carrie Packwood. "Embracing Humanimality: Deconstructing the Human/Animal Dichotomy." Greg Goodale and Jason Edward Black, Eds. Arguments about Animal Ethics. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2010. 11-30.