Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

Transcript of Dr. Richard Twine's ARZone LIve Guest Chat

Transcript of Dr. Richard Twine’s ARZone Live Guest Chat

2 July 2011

6pm US Eastern Time

11pm UK Time and

3 July 2011

8am Australian Eastern Standard Time

 

 

 

Carolyn Bailey:

ARZone would like to welcome Dr. Richard Twine as our chat guest today.

 

Dr. Richard Twine is a sociologist currently based at Lancaster University, UK. His path to writing on Critical Animal Studies began in the early/mid 90s through an encounter with feminist and ecofeminist work, notably authors such as Val Plumwood and Carol J Adams. His PhD, completed in 2002, was an examination of critiques of dualism in both ecofeminist theory and sociological knowledge.

 

His interest then switched to a focus on human/animal relations in the context of agricultural biotechnology and climate change. This culminated in his book “Animals as Biotechnology – Ethics, Sustainability and Critical Animal Studies” (Earthscan, 2010).

 

Since then he has been re-visiting Barbara Noske’s concept of the ‘animal-industrial complex’ in the hope of making it more useful to both activists and academics. He was an inaugural fellow of the Animals and Society Institute in 2007, hosted by Ken Shapiro and Tom Regan. He has run the ecofeminism web-site www.ecofem.org since 1996, and is currently on the board of Minding Animals International and the organizing team for the 2nd Annual European Conference for Critical Animal Studies, to take place in Prague in October 2011.

 

Richard welcomes the opportunity to engage ARZone members today, on a range of topics. Would you please join with me in welcoming him to ARZone? Welcome, Richard!

 

Sky:

Hi

 

Fifi Leigh:

Hi

 

Brooke Cameron:

Hi, Dr. Twine!

 

Tim Gier:

Hi Richard!

 

Sheri Lucas:

Welcome. :-)

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Thanks for being here, Richard!

 

Will:

Hey up

 

Ben Hornby:

Hello Richard.

 

vegendeb:

Hi

 

Richard Twine:

Thanks :-)

 

Matt Bowen:

Hi Richard, welcome!

 

Roger Yates:

Welcome to ARZone, Richard.

 

Eriyah Flynn:

Welcome! :-)

 

Oliver h c stearn:

Hello

 

Jesse Newman:

Hello Richard

 

Alan O’Reilly:

Hi Richard!

 

Maynard S. Clark:

Welcome, Dr. Twine.  Ingtegrating the critical skills of the social sciences into our struggles

 

Mangus O’Shales:

Hi Richard

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Richard will be responding to his pre-registered questions first, and then we’ll open the chat up for all members to engage him. Please refrain from interrupting Richard during his first session, and feel free to send a private message to an admin if you wish to address him at any time.

I’d now like to ask Matt Bowen to present the first question to Richard; when you’re ready, thanks, Matt.

 

Matt Bowen:

Thanks, Carolyn. Welcome to ARZone Dr Twine! Could you please briefly explain the concept of animals as biotechnology, and what inspired you to write at length about this concept? Thank you.

 

Richard Twine:

Thanks Matt. Since I’m unsure whether you mean the book as a whole or the framing of the first part of the title, I will answer to both. In terms of the book as a whole I was concerned that there was a lack of critical academic attention to the subject of animal biotechnology.  It’s the first book written by a Sociologist on the subject and it’s certainly imperfect in several ways – there is a lot of scope for more research in this area. So I still have this concern of inattention and it also extends to the wider activist community. I really hope more people turn their attention to what is going on in this area, and I’m always interested in new research collaborators.  It sometimes appears to me as if we are sleepwalking into a future of quite different human/animal relations of which very few have democratically wished for.

 

In terms of the first part of the title ‘Animals as Biotechnology’ this was intended to be ambiguous. Firstly it’s a question intended to underline that right here right now is a pivotal time for considering whether as a human species we want to start applying this technology to other animals (and of course to ourselves).

 

Biotechnology should not be a technoscientific corporatist fait accompli; it should be a highly democratic deliberative process where the option to say ‘no, we don’t want to take this direction’ should be very possible. Secondly it’s a nod to my colleagues in Science and Technology Studies (STS) who would rightly point out that all domesticated animals are in a sense technologies already, they are human/animal hybrids, we have partly taken over their evolution, and they have shaped ours. Thirdly, and relatedly, it’s a refutation of the view that this then entails we treat as ‘natural’ a progression from domestication to biotechnology. To assume that domestication provides a precedent for biotechnology is to erroneously assume that the precedent is morally unproblematic.

 

Matt Bowen:

Thanks for your answer!

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Richard. Michelle Statham would like to ask the next question, but is unable to be here, so I'll ask it on her behalf. As an advocate for other animals, I have been subjected to ridicule and taunting from my peers in the workplace. Others I know have experienced similar things. Are there any cases were this type of discrimination has been brought to task.Or do you think that as a movement we should be pursuing some form of recognition in law of our beliefs so we can escalate the rights of animals up the political agenda albeit from, in the first instance, a human perspective.

 

Richard Twine:

Thanks Michelle, an important question. We have to expect this sort of ‘discrimination by proxy’ as I would call it as vegans (and even vegetarians to an extent) are challenging a highly cherished norm that is definitional of the currently taken for granted view of what it means to pass as a human.

 

This is the sense in which I see vegans as posthumanist, we are living and practicing a new way of being human that is historically a radical intervention. It is at the same time heady, euphoric, stressful and alienating.

 

I don’t think we should confuse discrimination against vegans as that which continues to be highly institutionalized against other animals. This is why I call it proxy. Every social movement has its own specificity but perhaps this is broadly analogous to discrimination against feminist men or against perhaps white anti-racists. People who have decided to try to ‘exit’ from privilege against entrenched prevailing norms. I’m not totally convinced we need anti-discrimination laws for vegans; perhaps any campaign to achieve this would be counter-productive. I’m honestly not sure. But we do need much for acceptance in the workplace and in our communities more generally. It is ridiculous that a non-violent way of living and one that potentially is the best option in terms of mitigating climate change has to struggle for acceptance but then shifting the meaning of the ‘human’ is  bound to be resisted by the majority.

 

People may be aware of the recent case of Ryan Pacifico who was harassed at work for being vegetarian (see http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/maybe-its-just-me/201103/can-vegetarian-sue-employment-discrimination). His harassment took the form of homophobic and gender stereotyping slurs based on his vegetarianism. It was suggested he could sue using sex discrimination laws due to the way in which the accused (his male boss) was reading male vegetarianism as an expression of ‘unmanliness’. Of course the accused was allowing widely held cultural norms of gender to ‘speak through him’. Not eating meat is a challenge to the gender order. Living and practicing a new way of being human is intimately bound up in reworking gender norms, but more on this intersectional thinking follows below.  (thanks)

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks very much, Richard. Tim Gier is up next, when you're ready, Tim.

 

Tim Gier:

Would you explain the concept of dualism as you understand it generally and more specifically in terms of human-nonhuman relations?

 

Richard Twine:

Thanks Tim. The answer to that question is a book. And that book is Val Plumwood’s Feminism and the Mastery of Nature (1993). But if you want a briefer version track down her article from the Ecologist magazine in 1992 (Feminism and Ecofeminism: beyond the dualistic assumptions of women, men and nature).

 

I think an understanding of dualism is essential for any activist and any member of any progressive social movement. It partly explains where we are and it partly signposts ways out. So my main influence was Val Plumwood, who sadly passed away in 2008.

 

Ok I’ll attempt a succinct answer. Dualism is an entrenched way of thinking that emanates from Western philosophy and religion. Plumwood outlines its key tenets in ancient Greek philosophy. I’m tempted to cheekily define dualism as what happens when you start doing philosophy without first ridding yourself of Christian dogma. But content wise dualism refers to a set of mutually interlinking oppositional pairs including, for example, culture/nature, reason/emotion, male/female, mind/body, human/animal. Each pair is set up as a left to right hierarchy and each maps onto the other. So already you can see how generally the human has been defined in terms of culture, reason, mindedness and through a gendered male or masculine norm. For animals, well first we have the problematic homogenizing term ‘animal’ that Derrida (and many before him) rightly saw as a violent word that collapses the diversity of all nonhuman animal species into a single term. [It’s also worth bearing in mind the way feminism has struggled with words like ‘woman’ and ‘women’].

 

Then we can note quite clearly the general way in which ‘animals’ have been associated with the body, emotions, instinct, nature. So dualism is a way of constructing difference, identity and hierarchy; of creating essences. Dualism is there in every form of oppression. This needs to be grasped better, since it really does signpost a radical coalitional oppositional politics. The human/animal distinction is there in sexism, racism and classism and these are just commonly quoted examples. I agree with Plumwood that the way to challenge dualism is to practice intersectional politics. Moreover I agree that we cannot just reverse the devalued sides of each dualism. This is why an ecofeminism that simply valorizes the ‘feminine’ (whatever that is supposed to be) is incredibly narrow minded. What is required is a radical reconceptualisation of each dualistic pair and term, and that isn’t reducible to a theoretical project, it’s a lived practice. For example veganism I argue has the potential to simultaneously work on far more than just human/animal dualism. It challenged gender, it challenges the devaluation of emotion, it challenges Western centrism, challenges our inattentiveness to our em/bodiedness and so on. Plumwood's work provides the basis for a radical vision that ought to unite the political left yet at the same time challenge the its anthropocentrism and humanism.

 

I don’t think we’d have the intersectionality focus in Critical Animal Studies if it wasn’t for this prior work in ecofeminist theory. I’ll say a little more on intersectionality in response to a later question. I should say that Plumwood wasn’t herself vegan so I don’t agree with everything she said. But I turn to people like Carol J Adams (who I read before I read Plumwood) for that more direct animal ethic. I appreciated what people like Plumwood and Karen Warren were trying to do with their arguments for ‘contextual vegetarianism’ but I think they got it wrong. (this is a debate worth checking out). I think veganism won the moral argument over vegetarianism since these debates in the 90s. I explain dualism in more detail during the intro chapter to my book, but please do go to Plumwood’s work if you are not familiar with it.

 

Tim Gier:

Thank you Richard, I've got a follow-up question related to this that I will ask you later in the open session if that's okay?

 

Richard Twine:

Sure thing.

 

Tim Gier:

Great, thanks again!

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Next up is Ben Hornby. Ben, when you are ready

 

Ben Hornby:

Thanks, Barbara! Thanks for being here, Richard. In the introduction to your book, Animals as Biotechnology: Ethics, Sustainability and Critical Animal Studies, you mention that you interviewed “a number of vegetarian animal welfare scientists”. this sounds oxymoronic to me. Did your interviews with them explore any internal conflicts they may have had?

 

Richard Twine:

Thanks Ben. As you will have guessed the vast majority of my interview material is not drawn upon in my book. There is some more in an earlier chapter in another book and generally the data served the purpose of giving me a better grasp on the animal sciences. And I was also attending a lot of animal science conferences at this time, itself quite a difficult experience. It’s not as oxymoronic as you think since people who regard themselves as ‘animal lovers’ (and we know that people can happily use that self-descriptor even if they eat meat/dairy) quite often choose a natural science path and end up in the animal sciences which comprises many sub-disciplines. Sometimes they even end up working with or alongside the very scientists who are working to improve the productivity of the animal-industrial complex.

 

So they are pragmatic incrementalists for sure.  We may have our own views on whether such ‘change from the inside’ is possible, or whether such scientists are being thoroughly co-opted by the ‘machinery’ of the animal-industrial complex. Last time I checked welfare didn’t involve killing for profit. The message you do get from AW scientists is that money talks, and welfare changes are very hard to achieve. But I do not think that means we should not show these people respect or indeed not have good challenging conversations with them. They are in a precarious situation and are looked down upon by those working in the more masculinized production orientated areas of animal science. So often they are at conferences and they are conspicuous by their vegetarianism or even veganism (although probably a majority of AW scientists still eat meat/dairy).

 

I have heard from some animal welfare scientists that they tend to no longer attend mainstream production orientated animal science conferences, such are the tensions, sticking to their own professionalized AW conferences instead. I know what it’s like to attend animal science conferences with their corporate presence and celebratory tone of novel ways in which to instrumentalize animals and to make them more productive. It’s like entering into a rather uncanny moral universe which has the power to shock the ‘average citizen’ who is distanced not only from the slaughterhouse but from the networked bodies of scientific knowledge that work behind the scenes to discipline animal bodies for human consumption. It was certainly enough to finally push me from vegetarian to vegan 7 years ago.

 

In answer to the last part of your question I didn’t explicitly set out to focus on the moral conflicts of AW scientists but they certainly came up. It would be a good piece of research for someone to do in more detail. Someone should also research the ways in which different areas of animal science are gendered. Lots of avenues…

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Richard! Barbara DeGrande would like to ask the next question, please go ahead, Barbara.

 

Barbara DeGrande:

In your article in the Scavenger (The industrialisation of animals: What happened to ethics? 13 Dec 2010) you mention the Animal Industrial Complex which has been so effective at commodifying animals. How do you see animal advocates effectively working to change this powerful force which splits humans off from their own animal nature?  

 

Roger Yates:

Thanks Barbara. The Animal-Industrial Complex (A-IC) is a term coined by Barbara Noske in 1989. I don’t actually use it in my book, but I’ve turned to it since. I’m currently finishing a paper that argues that if we take on this concept and refine it, to specify what we actually mean by it (rather than using it rhetorically to refer to some sort of scary all powerful force) Noske doesn't use it like that, but it's the way it has tended to be used since. Only really Carol J Adams has engaged with the term since then, which I find rather shocking. Once refined etc then hopefully it can be very useful for scholars and activists alike.

 

There is a recognition in CAS that we need more political economy analysis broadly construed. There are a lot of theories and methods in sociology and geography that CAS scholars should be applying to the A-IC. I’m also interested in online methods of mapping the A-IC. What we understand it to be shapes what we might understand to be potentially effective resistance against it. The A-IC achieves its power from its networking and its immersion within capitalism. I think advocates have already keenly understood the veiling/unveiling dynamic of the complex. It operates partly by secrecy, and so activists are adept at employing various surveillance technologies to display and unveil exploitation, to expose it, in a sense, to public shame. It also operates by denial, as if its environmental impacts can have no boomerang effect.

 

Recall that dualism encourages us to think that human actions are separate from ‘nature’. Of course this is ecological nonsense.  The other specific technique would be coalition building. Activists should underline that their opposition to the A-IC is, whilst primarily for reasons of animal ethics, also a public health issue, a climate change issue, an anti-violence issue and so on. If we stress intersectionality we stand a better chance of changing humanist minds. One of my later answers adds to this also.

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Thank you! Next up will be Dr. Yates. Roger?

 

Roger Yates:

You are a sociologist critical of the anthropocentric (human-centred) nature of mainstream sociology. I believe you state that you explore the interplay between sociology and critical animal studies, focusing in part on the issue of “intersectionality.” Can you say more about this and explain how you see sociological work helping in terms of our understanding of “human-animal relations.” 

 

Richard Twine:

Thanks Roger. Critical Animal Studies (CAS) is an interdisciplinary field but I approach it from the one which is closest to being my home discipline, Sociology. (Even as I note that disciplinarity itself is problematic and partly shaped by dualism!) So here I may be tempted into a little playful partisan flag waving for Sociology given

a) its historical intersection with social movements and

b) its tradition of intersectional thinking which makes it important for CAS.

 

Sociology has had to address its dualistic heritage and this is an ongoing project (10 years ago I was finishing my PhD up about this). Because of this heritage we see a swathe of anthropocentric concepts in Sociology whereby key concepts such as society, the social, and the family are assumed to be purely human. So there is a CAS critique of Sociology but there is a Sociology critique (or at least input) into CAS. This latter strand takes the form of Sociology asking CAS how it figures its position in the academy, how it figures out its relationships with activism and politics generally.

 

To do this (in the book) I turn to the well known work of American Sociologist Michael Burawoy in order to try and marry up his thoughts on public sociology and critical sociology into the CAS project. It’s basically an argument for critical thinking and gives CAS a rationale for being in the academy. Sociology in one reading is a forum for the productive generation of difficult questions, for the stoking of civil society. CAS doesn’t need to be timid in that respect. Sociologists are also fairly open-minded to the fact that their discipline is dynamic.

 

Sociology has certainly changed a lot over the past 20 years and I tried to capture in my PhD that much of this change was related to it trying to come to terms with its prior faithfulness to various interlinked dualisms. I think this is fairly mainstream now (well sort of). Sociologists are working now to underline that sociality is a more-than-human idea. There are certainly big ethical questions that the discipline is going to have to face here in that researching human/animal relations is effectively going to involve working with animals in some way probably. So there are questions of method here and of complicity. In terms of intersectionality Sociology does human centred intersectionality rather well. It’s become the norm within sociology to think through the interplay between gender, ‘race’, class, sexuality, and disability for example. One task of CAS is to ‘post-humanize’ this focus, to underline how categories of ‘nature’ and ‘animality’ infuse these constructions of difference, and how the exploitation of animals, in turn is bound up in complex ways in these traditional foci. As you know, this is underway, and it mirrors the struggle to contest anthropocentric norms in wider society.

 

Roger Yates:

Thanks Richard for your considered answer. Next up is a question from David Pearce, which Carolyn will ask on his behalf.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Roger. Do you think it's possible to convert the world to veganism by moral argument alone? Or will we need to develop in vitro meat?

 

Richard Twine:

Thanks David. As an atheist I reject the language of conversion. It also makes veganism sound ‘culty’ which is part of the mainstream arsenal of negatively representing veganism – which also includes calling veganism ‘strict’ or marking vegan bodies as ugly – both strategies also directed against feminists which is worth noting.

 

The idea of ‘converting the world’ raises the issue of ethics and universalism, maybe we can discuss that in the open section. Moreover, as a sociologist I reject the argument that you make more vegans primarily by moral argument.  (Just in case this sounds odd, I will expand upon this in an answer to a later question – by Ben Hornby).

 

So I don’t think our options are moral philosophy versus technological fix (IV meat). IV meat is however interesting in that it allows the meat eating norm to persist, so it could be seen as an attempt at animal liberation without the need to address underlying values. So the technological stands in for the moral, or rather is productive of a new form of value. Proponents of IV meat don’t answer the obvious question of why we don’t just replace meat/dairy with the alternatives that vegans already eat. I am also not sure IV meat is technically feasible on a large scale; it seems to smell of the capitalist fantasy of magically producing something out of nothing. 

 

Having said that relatively speaking I’d probably rather some funding was thrown at it than say geo-engineering. It’s notable that we look to more control of the nonhuman to try and deal with pre-existing environmental problems that have arisen from ill thought out initial attempts to control and master nonhuman nature. Hubristic control tends to be productive of unanticipated consequences and then scientific practice can come to resemble someone frantically trying to control a set of spinning plates. 

 

Tim Gier:

Thank you for that answer Richard. Jesse Newman is up with the next question, Jesse, when you're ready! 

 

Jesse Newman:

Thank you. As a function of the capitalist drive for surplus value, can the biotechnical alteration of other animals be curtailed without some kind of reimagining of our basic economic model? 

 

Richard Twine:

Thanks Jesse. Hypothetically on paper it could. One could imagine a type of capitalism that for some reason decided to de-commodify human-animal relations. But this would be extremely unlikely and wouldn’t even begin to respond to the demands of a theory and struggle against intersecting oppressions. I do think we need to re-imagine our basic economic model. 

 

CAS is expressly anti-capitalist. I don’t think you can reduce the myriad forms that the human exploitation of other animals takes to capitalism, yet neither do I think you can separate them from it. [This of course raises difficult questions for vegan consumerism and vegan businesses]. If you know your history of feminist theory then you will appreciate that in certain ways we have been here before as gender theorists have tried to work out the relations between class, capitalism and gender for a long time now. I think here it’s important not to see our economics as separate from culture as capitalism and class domination is embroiled with ideologies of gender, race and species. So yes of course we must change our economics. 

 

CAS and the left generally lacks a clear economic vision.  The dimension of capitalism that I most obviously target in my book is the doctrine of growth. The exploitation of genomics and biotechnology isn’t automatically linked to growth but the way it is being developed right now certainly points in that direction in the context of supporting the ‘livestock revolution’. If the animal-industrial complex is a significant cause of climate change why are we currently radically expanding it?? I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that the assumption that we must have growth growth growth! in our economy is essentially suicidal and continues the long dangerous tradition that somehow assumes the ‘human’ and our actions to be sealed off from the rest of nature. Climate Change/Global Heating can be seen as the underlying death wish of capitalism rendered real.

 

Jesse Newman:

Thank you, can I ask another question real quick?

 

Richard Twine:

Sure. My answer won't be as long though.

 

Jesse Newman:

Doesn't the idea of veganism as something to do with human consumption play into the dualism you talked about earlier? It kinda looks like part of the problem.

 

Richard Twine:

I'm not clear on what you mean by the first part, can you clarify?

 

Jesse Newman:

I'll do my best. I mean that if veganism is just about what humans do, by not eating or using animals, it seems like it makes humans in charge of animals. Us vs. Them. Maybe I don't know what I'm really saying.

 

Richard Twine:

Well for me veganism is about using less land to grow our food, which would then hopefully allow for more habitat, which would then in theory challenge threats to species extinction - assuming radical temperature rises can be avoided..It can't really be an us v them scenario since the domesticated animals that humans eat only consititute a tiny fraction of nonhuman animal species diversity. But I may not be answering this very well as I may have failed to get your precise meaning, apologies if so.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks Richard. Tim Gier would like to ask another question now, thanks, Tim.

 

Tim Gier:

Considering Critical Animal Studies, is it the case that, from a sociological perspective, it is important to retain a positive, value free outlook in one’s examination of civil /social groups and their claims making? To ask again in perhaps the opposite way, is there a danger that advocates will risk missing opportunities to create social change because they are convinced, without any reflexivity, of the correctness of their own efforts?

 

Richard Twine:

Thanks Tim. I don’t believe in any sort of value-free outlook since, for me, this seems to try to posit the researcher as some sort of socially decontextualised automaton. Research is much better I think when its practitioners are open about their values. Natural scientists rarely are. I believe I can justify my values in terms of their betterment of ‘society’, defined in terms of being comprised by multiple species. For example CAS does research that aims to provide critical tools to civil society groups (and indeed to work symbiotically with them) that are struggling to question anthropocentric norms. Just like most gender and women’s studies is working against heterosexist and gendered norms.  (Of course these two projects intersect) However to get at the gist of your question as I argue in my book (following the framework of sociologist Michael Burawoy) it is important for CAS to try and retain a critical distance from such groups in order to provide well intentioned critique of limited strategies. 

 

Probably nobody should ever be totally convinced that their strategies are correct. The failure of PETA to do joined up intersectional activism would be the example par excellence. Doing animal advocacy via the reproduction of other relations of power is such a backward step. Activists might also be guilty of fetishizing veganism as a ‘panacea for world revolution’.  That’s an easy thing to hook on to, but again it’s narrow minded. It’s worth adding that CAS as an academic presence is young and precarious. It also requires a critical reflexivity toward its own potential ‘domestication’ within academia. It should also be open to critique from the aforementioned civil society groups. To say otherwise would just to be guilty of academic snobbery. Also, what if a CAS vision of intersectional activism is easier said than done, what are the obstacles to this on the ground and in the streets? Often it’s activists that will know this better. Finally we must avoid a dualism between academic/activist, theory/practice. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that such distinctions can be read as reformulations of deep rooted dualisms between mind/body, or reason/emotion. Most people are practicing both to an extent. Thought is located, embodied and passionate, and Practice can be informed by theory and so on.

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks Richard, I'd like to hear more about the "fetishization of veganism as a pancea" -- perhaps in open?

 

Richard Twine:

Sure.

 

Roger Yates:

Thanks Richard - next up is Barbara DeGrande...

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Thank you, Roger. Could you explain how your work in eco-feminism explains the correlation between assault on the feminine and the assault on animals?

 

Richard Twine:

Thanks Barbara. Ok, I wouldn’t frame it that way since I don’t think ecofeminism sets out to ‘defend the feminine’.  Early forms did but they were effectively critiqued. Ecofeminism is much more clever and deconstructive than that thankfully. But this goes back to dualism and the historical feminization of nature, and the view of ‘women’ as a homogenized class that are posited as being ‘closer to nature’. [Bear in mind that you can only conceive of some humans as being ‘closer to nature’ if you also think that generally all humans are apart from ‘nature’]. This sometimes translates as the animalization of ‘women’ or the sexualization of ‘women’ (since following the Christian dualistic logic sexuality has been understood as ‘animal’ etc). However men are also ‘animalized’ in culture as well, but usually as an attempt to present a fixed sense of masculinity as powerful or virile. Ecofeminism explains the connection in terms of both ‘women’ and ‘animals’ being resources for capitalist exploitation, both having their economic contribution denied, both being used as points of contrast for the construction of an assumedly superior ‘masculine’ ‘human’ central identity. To echo my point from dualism earlier, the categories of ‘woman’ and ‘animal’ are constructs that are mutually co-constructed. In other words both categories are seen as being less rational, less minded, and less cultural and so on. Feminism has challenged this but without a full awareness of the way in which categories of ‘nature’ and ‘animality’ have been crucial to the partial subjugation of ‘women’.

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Thank you.  May I ask a brief follow-up? 

 

Richard Twine:

Sure.

 

Barbara DeGrande:

What is a suggested way for advocates to educate the average person regarding these issues?

 

Richard Twine:

Well I don’t want to assume that people are uneducated. But one of the easiest ways in to these issues is to discuss the feminization of veganism, and to ask why practices of care are feminized (and NOT to fall back into some view of ‘women’ as more ‘naturally’ caring than ‘men’), and to explore the masculinization of meat. I think everyone at least in those cultures where it is present, which seems to be most, is aware of this on one level or another. Here the aim has to be to point out to men the ways in which gender norms are not in their own interests. Because these causes intersect you can actually do animal advocacy via gender politics and you can do feminism through animal advocacy. If we actually worked to change men and boys via masculine norms I believe we’d see a knock on effect in terms of human/animal relations. I hope that all animal advocates would be open to feminism. It’s important to question our day to day complicity with gender just as it is to question our day to day complicity with anthropocentrism and other related forms of power.

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks Richard, Roger Yates has the next question. Please go ahead Roger...

 

Roger Yates:

A central theme in your book, Animals as Biotechnology: Ethics, Sustainability and Critical Animal Studies, is what you call the “molecularisation” of nonhuman animals. Could you spell out the bare bones of your concerns and say what you think the future holds in terms of the continuing capitalist commodification of other animals? 

 

Richard Twine: 

Thanks Roger. There are many modes and metaphors and ways of framing other animals and their bodies (because here an animal is generally seen as a body without much in the way of subjectivity, effectively deprived of much sense of mindedness). One question here is, does it make a difference how an animal is being instrumentalized, and are just all forms of instrumentalization the same? 

 

Does it make a difference to that animal? Does it make a difference to what we ourselves become (given that we are defined by our actions)?  I see new forms of instrumentalization happening and I think they matter. In genomics the value of farmed animals is being further reduced to ‘economically interesting’ areas of their genome, parts of this or that chromosome where this gene or that may play a role in changing the growth rate, the litter size, that sort of thing. Also I have argued that the animal body is increasingly seen in terms of a ‘factory’ that can be used to make new drugs expressed in their milk for example in biopharmaceutical research. These are new conceptualizations and new uses of animals that are being gradually normalized and may become economically embedded and ‘locked in’. So the idea of the ‘human’ as one who masters, controls and profits from the exploitation of other animals is actually from this vantage point being further entrenched even though we see other cultural trends which are ethically questioning of this and so on. I will pass on predicting the future right now but I hope you can see again my concern over the lack of academic and activist attentiveness to animal biotechnology. 

 

Roger Yates:

Thanks Richard - can I have a follow-up/comment please?

 

Richard Twine:

Sure.  

 

Roger Yates:

Thanks Richard. A few Dublin-based activists had a great and instructive meeting last night with David Nibert who outlined his “entanglement” thesis about how human and nonhuman others are devalued and exploited. His perspective - and what you just said - made me think of the “first wave” of the Frankfurt School – essentially Horkheimer – Adorno - and Marcuse and their concept of instrumental reason by which we see others as objects to utilise. Your vision seems to bring these sorts of thoughts into the 21st century, which is welcome and very necessary. Is that fair?

 

Richard Twine:

Well you know those writers, and I would add William Leiss, and perhaps even Erich Fromm to the list were basically making a similar sort of argument that would later resurface in ecofeminism, that the domination of 'external' nature (ecology, other species) is intimately linked to the domination of 'inner' nature (sexuality, the body, emotionality). Some German colleagues of mine have recently translated some new Horkheimer material into English that is even more striking in this respect - they will present at the Prague conference I mentioned at the outset. So yes I am sympathetic with some key arguments of that school, even though I appreciate they have undergone much needed critical reappraisal in the interim period.

 

Roger Yates:

Thanks Richard - next up is Ben Hornby with his question....

 

Ben Hornby:

Thank you, Roger. Richard, in your book you write: “Unless we subscribe to the frankly odd view of the human as one who simply responds to reasoned argument, ethics or philosophy, even in the pluralistic sense that I will argue for shortly, are not capable of carrying the burden of political change. This is even more the case when such ‘reasoned’ arguments are counter to deeply institutionalized cultural, economic, sociological and historical sets of practices.” Understanding that you wrote a book, in part, to address this issue, can you tell us briefly here what is capable of carrying the burden of political change? 

 

Richard Twine:

Thanks Ben, a great question. This partly relates to my commitment to a type of posthumanism that resists the view that people are autonomous rational selves walking about making calculative, logical decisions all the time. So we are social beings like other animals in some ways and unlike them in others. (Difference doesn’t need to be translated into a hierarchy in whatever direction). It’s actually harder to discern one’s individual boundaries than one usually assumes.  So my argument here is that sometimes ethical theory forgets our sociality: that we are defined and constructed by our social context, our relations, by our perceptions of other peoples’ emotions, by the habits of those in our immediate environment. I’d recommend reading the wider sociological critique of bioethics which is relevant to this debate – I cover it in my book. This is not to negate ethical theory and moral argument, well thought out animal ethics from whatever tradition are important. And I’m particularly interested in attempts to do posthumanist animal ethics (e.g. Matthew Calarco, Cary Wolfe).

 

Ethical theories highlight our inconsistencies particularly well for example. Philosophy has been crucial to the history of the Animal Rights Movement. Tom Regan, for example, has been incredibly influential as a ‘founding father’. It’s also worth adding that there is a lot more to philosophy than ethical theory and there are many other academic disciplines of use to animal advocacy – CAS is right to underline the importance of interdisciplinarity in this respect. So to get more to your question: I do not believe that one achieves behaviour change by imparting ethical theory to the masses.  I think we have to look to the role of history, of identity, of habit of relationships in shaping the choices people make. Very few people choose to eat meat/dairy – they are born into cultures where this norm precedes their existence They are then usually successfully recruited to this norm and its related practices. Things like convenience, and also aesthetics are also important to think about. I agree with those who want to stress the pleasures of veganism. Veganism is highly pleasurable in contrast to its media representation. I don’t think pleasure is a politically useless concept at all. Also, how has the historical emergence of the ‘commodity’ shaped how we consume, how we live? (In capitalism) we are not encouraged to know the relationships behind the commodity, we are expected to be docile, habitual consumers and in many cases we are. Vegan consumption although clearly taking place within normative market relations is interesting because it often seeks to try and unravel the relationships behind the commodity, and so it is at least partially disruptive in that respect. So I don’t know what exactly can ‘carry the burden of political change’ but I am suggesting that we need to think quite broadly about this. As well as being historically entrenched there are clearly also broad large scale networked phenomena supporting the animal-industrial complex. This includes dimensions from media dominance, pedagogy to transnational regulations and corporations. So the burden of change has to be multi-leveled but if we are focused on the everyday practices of communities then I would think these sociological questions I have raised are rather crucial. Intersectionality again also plays a role here in shaping identity. It provides one explanation for the intransigence of some practices. So if meat eating and say car use are gendered masculine as we generally believe them to be, then this is also shaping the persistence of these practices. We need to ask how we can curtail the life of a given practice and how we can contest and erode the various sets of norms that support particular practices. I’m increasingly interested in a sociological approach called ‘practice theory’. This is influenced historically by writers such as Pierre Bourdieu and Michel Foucault but is increasingly being applied to the sustainability/climate change agenda (see work by Elizabeth Shove for example). Here the focus is less on individual behaviour change, but in an effort to be more sociological puts the focus (and the ‘burden of change’ if you like) on practices themselves. A given practice is assumed to have a biography made up of objects and materials, various embodied skills and competences, and various images and meanings. People act as carriers of different practices. Practices capture and lose carriers over their ‘career’. [Of course we could equally apply this to thinking about why veganism as a practice may lose or gain carriers as well as why meat/dairy consumption does – or indeed why so many people invest themselves in normative gender]. So this may be a productive way of looking at things that I would certainly like to investigate further. Again it’s somewhat different to placing everything on moral argument which I think is a view that forgets human sociality and suffers from a dualist notion of the human as overly rational and autonomous. So I hope we can have a broader perspective when it comes to thinking about political change.

 

Ben Hornby:

Thanks!

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Richard! The next question is based on a question that was originally conceived of by Eneko Pérez who as you may know is one of the Spanish 12, and who is still currently imprisoned. Kate would like to dedicate this question to him and all the Spanish 12 who have suffered such a travesty of justice. http://www.animalequality.net/ The question is -
Given that plants are insentient and animals are sentient, if it were possible to do so without harming any animals, would you advocate killing carnivorous plants?

 

Richard Twine:

Thanks Kate and my thoughts are with the unjustly imprisoned Eneko Perez and all his comrades in Spain.

 

No I don’t see any reason to advocate that. I’m not against predation, I’m not against the right of carnivorous species to exist. I am against the normative view that humans are carnivores, or that being omnivores is read as setting up a physiological or cultural ‘need’ to eat animals, it clearly does not.

 

I’m also not that pre-occupied with debates over whether the ‘human’ is ‘naturally’ plant eating either. I think there’s flexibility, so there’s a choice. There is also a contestability over the meanings of sentient here. Are all animals equally sentient, and are all plants completely non-sentient? Is sentience the best grounding for animal ethics? I’m suspicious of your dichotomy because I do not want that to be read as saying plant species are without value. I can say a little more on why I am not against predation. Predation has an ecological and evolutionary value that calls on vegans to think about their position on suffering (Some people will try to erroneously evoke that value when attempting to justify human hunting etc). My death, your death also has an ecological value (which we have interrupted by ‘civilizing’ our death rituals and separating them from ‘nature’). Our deaths will involve suffering, but the experience of suffering can be socially mediated by the way we as individuals and as a culture frame death and the experience of death. In a more caring and ecological culture, the experience of death would change. In the nonhuman context I think we have to respect predation even as it involves suffering. So there is a wider point to your question about suffering and I believe that some transhumanists have it fundamentally wrong when they want to draw on particular (genetic) technologies to vainly and hubristically try to engineer away predation or to circumvent death and suffering. Whereas I would choose a biodegradable cardboard coffin placed in a burial forest, the transhumanist would favour the cryogenic pod. More on Transhumanism in the next answer. 

 

Kate:

Thanks for your answer, and for letting us know you're also thinking of Eneko. You asked Is sentience the best grounding for animal ethics? My answer - Yes, it’s clear to me that it is. Thanks.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Richard!

 

Roger Yates:

Thanks Richard - next up is Professor Tim Gier once more....

 

Tim Gier:

Thank you Dr. Yates.

You contrast posthumanism and transhumanism, noting that transhumanism may reinforce some of the very problems evident in human-nonhuman relations. Would you please explain what you mean? 

 

Richard Twine:

Thanks Tim. Yes I do indeed. I do this in the book, but my main writing on the subject appears as a chapter in a different book [details: "Genomic Natures read through Posthumanisms" in Nature After the Genome edited by Parry, S. & Dupre, J. 2010].

 

There has been some unfortunate and lazy conflation at work by various writers that have presented transhumanism and posthumanism as synonymous. Yet there is a complex set of ideas at play around ideas of the ‘posthuman’ which include quite widely divergent views. I see transhumanism as an extension of the rationalist worldview that has fed off the aforementioned set of dualisms. It offers no reflexive critique to dualism, no critique of capitalism and does nothing to actually decentre anthropocentrism, indeed it tries to extend it. In fact the only transhumanist I can think of who has even mentioned animal ethics is David Pearce. But I find his idea of ‘ridding the world of suffering’ by engineering out predation ecologically lacking and in fact very hubristic. Overall it’s very discrediting of veganism. Moreover transhumanism is obsessed with ‘enhancing’ (its term) the human – it never mentions all the animal experimentation that would be done (and is being done) to test out these various modes of ‘enhancement’ (see ch.3 of my book). People like Eugene Thacker and Katherine N. Hayles have written excellent critiques of transhumanism that I recommend. My critique of transhumanism is shared by many such writers from within what has been termed ‘critical posthumanism’ although I position myself slightly differently to them since I want to press home somewhat more forcefully posthumanism as both an ecological critique of human centredness and as an animal ethic expressed in veganism. So I tap into the histories of radical ecology and see contemporary writers such as Matt Calarco, Cary Wolfe, Carol Adams and Vasile Stanescu as broadly speaking kindred spirits in this reading of the posthuman. I don’t believe this posthumanism is a wholesale critique of everything that humanism has stood for, but it is a critique of the way in which dominant Western understandings of what it means to be human have come to be seen as natural, defined by the dualistic thinking I noted earlier, and constitutive of our dominant cultural and economic ways of being.

 

Tim Gier:

Thank you Richard, I've been thinking lately about the problem in the human/nonhuman formulation of animals rights/veganism. It seems to me that what humans need to do is accept their own animality. Is that part of what you're getting at?

 

Richard Twine:

I think it might not be that straight forward since 'animality' (like 'the feminine') has come to have a specific meaning which has been shaped by the dualistic structure discussed earlier, but I take your point, we do need to think about commonalities between the human and other species, and there are lots of them, a diversity which is never covered by this word 'animal'. (as well as difference which needs to be imagined non-hierarchically).

 

Tim Gier:

Thank you

 

Carolyn Bailey:

For the last question of the formal session today, Sky would like to address you, Richard. If there are any further questions for Richard today, please feel free to message an admin by clicking on their name. Admins are Barbara DeGrande, Roger Yates,Tim Gier and myself. When you're ready, Sky, thanks!

 

Sky:

Hi Dr. Twine. Here’s a questioner looking for hope and inspiration. As a sociologist, have you seen any sociological patterns that suggest we - animal advocates - are actually getting anywhere?

 

Richard Twine:

Thanks Sky. I have no statistics but I would say: In a shallow sense yes through the gradual emergence of social, economic, scientific and cultural vegan infrastructure. The other positive cultural change is the gradual recognition of nonhuman animal subjectivity. So now we have to ask, why are norms so socially intransigent? And how do we begin to fast track that change?  Several points are relevant here.  Firstly as scholars we do better research into practices, as described above. This research can involve working with activists in the context of climate change mitigation. Secondly, those in the ‘animal advocacy’ movement need to keep working on working better together. So we stop infighting, we take a dim view of self-appointed leaders and egos, that sort of thing.  In fact don’t follow anyone, follow ideas. Whilst inward reflection toward a social movement is vital, we also have to think sensibly on where to expend energy. Thirdly, we work intersectionally. We work with our humanist allies and convince them that their struggles are also dependent upon redefining what it means to be ‘human’. But I have to be realistic here, if we are pushing veganism as a panacea we won’t, I think, achieve the more radical social change required. Capitalism will simply co-opt and accommodate veganism as a lifestyle choice as it is already doing. 

 

The struggle for the lives of other animals ought not to be seen as separate from the struggle for the lives of oppressed humans. So I would hope that animal activists learn from and support struggles for feminism, anti-racism, anti-capitalism, queer politics and disability politics and also take their message to these sites of struggle. I don’t really want to risk a superficial play for hope and inspiration as I don’t really want to underplay either the magnitude of change required or the scale of problems faced, but I don’t see any other alternative to an intersectional, coalitional political strategy.

 

Sky:

Thanks - a follow up please?

 

Richard Twine:

Sure.

 

Sky:

Thanks... You seem to be saying that we need to be involved in "alliance politics" but Steven Best and others have pointed out that the problem is that those we need to connect with are speciesists and they do not want to connect with US how do we make this connection that is so needed and yet so hard?

 

Richard Twine:

Well Steve was instrumental in outlining CAS and therefore is a great believer in intersectionality (incidentally I was saddened that my country once again refused him entry just last month) It is a fair point that many of those people/groups we wish to connect with are speciesist (although we're all speciesist against some species but that's another Q) But probably the majority of the 29 people in this chat room right now ate meat and/or dairy at one point in their lives. My own outreach which is non-pushy has hopefully shaped several feminists, well I know it has. So yes alliance politics are hard, and I don't mean to suggest that they should suddenly comprise the entirety of what animal activists do, but I think it needs to be a focus, and we need to collectively work out the best ways to approach this.

 

Sky:

Thanks

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks very much for that, Richard! Maynard S. Clark would like to ask you your first question in the open session now. Thanks, Maynard.

 

Maynard S. Clark:

Thank you, Dr. Twine, for a powerful critique of in-vitro meat - AND PETA's tactics, as hubristic control => unanticipated consequences => spinning plates. As a Heideggerian, I don’t see faith as the historical or existential 'source' of dualism.

 

I will grab your book when prices come down or Harvard’s extensive library system buys a copy. Various religious traditions struggle with the inherent vulnerability and agency of human embodiment. I think of Ecclesiastes 9:11: "Time and circumstance befall all of us." We're all in this together, struggling to understand. That puts all us animals in this confluence together. Why do you think that other humans who struggle with vulnerability and risk are overtly hostile, when we're all in this confluence together, changing constantly as we go? Of course, I think of conversion as an inside-out transformation, and that involves deconstructing social influences upon and through us in order to discover something approaching authenticity. I am done. Thank you

 

Richard Twine:

Ok, first I need to say at 1.30am you are not going to get the best from me, I'll see how long I can struggle on. I'll try not to let tiredness turn into grumpiness :-) 

 

I think the Christian influence on dualism is undeniable. This doesn't mean that some forms of theology won't have interesting things to say or that we should ignore all people of faith - but I would hope that they would be reflexive to the teamwork complicity and historical and indeed ongoing 'evil' of religion, even if they might want to frame that in terms of 'misuse'. I didn't really understand your question on vulnerability, can you reframe if possible?

 

Maynard S. Clark:

Thank you, Dr. Twine.  Of course, there's the critical question of whether what we can call 'Christian' relates to issues of origins or descriptive slice-of-life views of what 'it' is at any particularly historical time and demographic 'space'

 

Richard Twine:

For sure.

 

Maynard S. Clark:

Faiths do engage the struggling individual, and the advice (counsel) GIVEN them often sees us all as part of a bigger material confluence - I cited one oft-used text.  To me, that empathy seems close to what we would want to do in counseling others if they came to us for advice.  I see them not as an enemy, but as fellow/gal strugglers. As Karl Jaspers described it, in 'the encompassing' described with ciphers of transcendence oh, done, I guess

 

Richard Twine:

Yes and we get that 'material confluence' view as you call it in ecofeminist theology - I'm thinking of people like Rosemary Radford Ruether. But overall I'm interested in spreading 'the gospel of thought free from religion'. So we will have to agree to respect our differences on that one Maynard.

 

Maynard S. Clark:

to disagree - Thank you, Dr. twine

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Richard. Ben Hornby would like to ask another question now. All yours, Ben.

 

Ben Hornby:

When you talked about how people are born into a life of meat eating and such, I thought about something I’ve heard Roger Yates mention before about how changing one’s behavior “costs” something. Do you think that people resist veganism because to accept it would mean that they would have to see themselves as the kind of people who hurt innocent beings? That sounds rather costly to me.

 

Richard Twine:

Yes I've heard that point made before, and I think that element of self-conception in terms of shame may well be something resisted. Also, earlier i spoke of the importance of social relationships in shaping our loyalty or not to these practices well a major cost, perhaps the major cost is in terms of alienation from significant others. Some of us just live with that alienation and tension (says I with two meat eating parents) Others won't make the change in order to preserve the relationship in its present state. Sometimes in the heterosexual context it's men preventing female partners from making the change. But much more research is needed into these issues.  

 

Ben Hornby:

Thanks Richard.

 

Richard Twine:

Thank you Ben for all your questions.

 

Ben Hornby:

Thanks for your excellent responses, Richard!

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Next is a question from Tim Gier, Tim, please go ahead when you are ready...

 

Tim Gier:

You mentioned the fetishization of veganism as a pancea for the worlds problems. I think I know what you mean, but would you take a moment to explain it?

 

Richard Twine:

Sure. The first point is to say this all depends what we mean by veganism. I'm sure you are all familiar with people stressing the need to say veganism is not 'just a diet'. I agree this is vitally important. So if veganism is broadly defined in ways that systematically challenge various forms of power there may be less issues over the fetishization of it as somehow being a panacea for all the worlds problems. But there still remains a problem because if we take seriously what I and others have said about intersectionality, we need more strategies than just veganism. We need joined up politics. After all it's pretty easy to be a narrow sort of vegan. Indeed some vegans don't even put so much focus on politicizing human/animal relations

 

Tim Gier:

Ok, thank you for the explanation. Barbara DeGrande has a question now, go ahead Barb!

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Thanks Tim.

 

Richard Twine:

Shoot Barb.

 

Barbara DeGrande:

This is two questions, really. I am intrigued with some of the ideas springing from intersectionality and believe that we need to develop many ideas to move forward. For example, Lee Hall suggests we should leave animals on their own terms, where David Pearce suggests a complete revamping of predators. How do you foresee the future for animals, both human and nonhuman and how would you like to see intersectionality functioning in the animal rights movement?

 

Richard Twine:

Lee's idea certainly has some merit if achievable. In terms of domestication we need to think more about that (I'm currently doing research on this). What is the AR vision for domesticated animals? What does animal liberation mean in the context of domesticated, especially farmed animals. Donna Haraway recently made the assumption that vegans essentially want to exterminate all farmed animals, which was rather a surprising thing to hear from her. It wasn't really much more sophisticated than the often heard banality 'what will happen to all the animals if we don't eat them' as if instrumentalisation and slaughter can be 'their only role'. I've already expressed my disdain for David's views on predation. i do hope none of you take them too seriously. (Sorry David!) I don't forsee the future, I'm just a Sociologist. I think I've already addressed how I see intersectionality possibly functioning in the AR movement. I think we need to have another go at educating PETA. Bruce's answers here on ARZone the other week were highly disappointing.

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Thank you so much. Most appreciated.

 

Will:

:-D

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Richard. I appreciate your views!

The last question for today will be asked by Tim Gier, thanks, Tim.

 

Richard Twine:

Thanks Barbara for all your questions.

 

Tim Gier:

I think you’ve written about how Western philosophy is based on a conception of a mind that is essentially masculine and “rational”. I may not have this right, but in any case, would you explain your critique? 

 

Richard Twine:

Well in that sense I'm just being derivative on people like Val Plumwood, or other feminist philosophers like Genevieve Lloyd. I suppose I'm more interested personally in conceptions of masculinity in terms of mindedness and particular forms of rationality. I find it rather fascinating and exciting that men in the AR movement are doing something which also challenges prevailing views of masculinity. They are acting compassionately and empathically.

 

Of course this doesn't mean that machismo doesn't resurface in the AR movement. I'm sure we all have our horror stories. But this itself is another lesson from intersectionality - when reflecting on the AR movement we should think very carefully about gender dynamics, and of course the whiteness of the movement, the middle class character of the movement. These should all give us pause for thought.

 

Fifi Leigh:

Maybe it is bullying me to be a certain "macho" way... men, not me

 

Tim Gier:

Thank you Richard. You've given me a lot to think about.

 

Richard Twine:

Job done then.  

 

Tim Gier:

:-)

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks very much, Richard! Your responses to our questions have been very much appreciated. I'd like to thank you for your insight and generosity with your time today!

 

Sky:

:-)

 

Sadia:

Absolute Gratitude, Dr. Twine! For a brilliant expose of converse on agency of socio philosophical and so very genius feminine intellect :-) Pleasure ! as much was learned and gained by your knowledge. Good evening and Thank you.

 

Ben Hornby:

Thanks so much, Richard!

 

Barbara DeGrande:

Wonderful chat, thank you Richard!

 

Richard Twine:

Thanks to everyone who asked questions, I hope I did them some degree of justice. Thanks to everyone who stuck around x

 

Alan O’Reilly:

Thanks Richard, thanks everybody. G'night!

 

Jesse Newman:

I second what Carolyn just said.

 

Brooke Cameron:

Thanks Richard. Great chat! :-)

 

Will:

Thanks Dr. Richard

 

Sheri Lucas:

Many thanks!

 

vegendeb:

Have you a website

 

Maynard S. Clark:

Yes, thank you very much, Dr. Twine.

 

Eriyah Flynn:

Thanks! I'm going to buy your book! :-)

 

Cyndi Rook:

Excellent chat, Richard. Thank you.

 

Richard Twine:

http://www.richardtwine.com

 

Roger Yates:

Everyone get the book, folks!

 

Mangus O’Shales:

I like that one week you guys have the compassionate cook and the next week you have someone like Richard. thank you.

 

 

 

ARZone exists to promote rational discussion about our relations with other animals and about issues within the animal advocacy movement. Please continue the debate after a chat by starting a forum discussion or by making a point under a transcript.

 

************



 

 

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Comment by Alex Melonas on July 18, 2011 at 8:14

It isn't clear to me what moral work the claim that David Pearce's project is "hubristic" is doing. It runs, as I understand it: first, the assumption that pain, broadly understood, is bad; moreover, not being in pain is an interest universal to sentient life. Second, we have an obligation to avoid causing pain; moreover, we have an obligation to prevent pain from happening when we are able to do so. Third, carnivores, by their nature, cause tremendous amounts of pain. Fourth, humans may be in a position to reduce or prevent some of that pain from occurring. Therefore, we ought to. That last move isn't "Western rationalist"; it proceeds from two simple and basic, but widely held, assumptions. 

I don't understand how this "discredits" veganism. The reverse, however: assuming some kind of value in "nature," as it is; assuming that, for some reason, animals "prefer" to be left alone (i.e., in possibly preventable pain); assuming that there is some value in preserving carnivorous species; and/or mistaking the moral argument for the practical one is discrediting to one's own argument.    

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