Can Anti-Racism Provide a Ground for an Animal Ethic?
Lecture by Syl Ko
While it is still up for debate whether the biological human-animal divide is a morally relevant one, most philosophers agree that the symbolic or social human-animal divide, which is central in racist discourse and thinking, is morally illegitimate. Philosophers and members of the general public alike assume that moral judgments concerning the biological divide problematically inform interactions between humans exclusively, thereby giving rise to the racist symbolic or social human-animal divide. In this talk, I argue that philosophers have overlooked the possibility that the social human-animal divide is conceptually prior to and, thus, subsumes judgments concerning the biological divide. If this is the case, then a truly anti-racist commitment may entail a radical reevaluation of nonhuman animal lives and interests.
Syl Ko is an independent researcher based in Portland, Maine (US). She studied philosophy at San Francisco State University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ko is one-half of the activist duo Aphro-ism and co-authored Aphro-ism: Essays on Pop Culture, Feminism and Black Veganism (2017). Her current research examines and rejects Wittgensteinian-inspired "forms of life" defenses of animal use, taking into account the racialization of the animal.