Metaphysical Anthropocentrism, Limitrophy, and Responsibility: An Explication of the Subject of Animal Rights

Keywords: Animal rights theory, animal ethics, anthropocentrism, deconstruction, law and rights, limitrophy, metaphysics of subjectivity

Abstract

This article undertakes a critical analysis of subjectivity and exposes the metaphysical and anthropocentric quasi-transcendental conditions that give rise to the construct(ion) of the Subject. I locate a critical moment for the metaphysical Subject in the work of Martin Heidegger which, whilst sadly not sustained in his later writings, provides a point of departure for an examination of the significance that animality plays in the metaphysical tradition and its constitutive relation to the construct of subjectivity. I discern this relation to be violent and sacrificial and draw on Jacques Derrida's nonanthropocentric ethics against the background of Drucilla Cornell's ethical reading of deconstruction to construct a critique of approaches that assimilate animals to the traditional model of subjectivity in order to represent their identity and interests in the legal paradigm. The main argument that I seek to advance is that such an approach paradoxically re-constructs the classical humanist subject of metaphysics and re-establishes the subject-centred system that silences the call of the animal Other, thereby solidifying and extending the legitimacy of a discourse and mode of social regulation that is fundamentally anthropocentric. I examine how we can address, incapacitate and move beyond this schemata of power through a rigorous deconstruction of the partitions that institute the Subject and how deconstruction clears a space for a de novo determination of the animal "subject" that can proceed from different sites of nonanthropocentric interruption. What follows is a call to refuse the mechanical utilisation of traditional legal constructs and I argue in favour of an approach to the question of the animal (in law) that identifies and challenges anthropocentrism as its critical target. I ultimately propose a critical engagement with the underlying metaphysical support of animal rights at a conceptual level, rather than simply utilising the law pragmatically as an instrument of immediate resolution.

 

Google_Scholar39.png 

References

Bibliography

Literature

Aristotle "Treatise on Government"
Aristotle "A Treatise on Government: Book I" in Ellis W (trans) Aristotle's Politics: A Treatise on Government (Routledge Manchester 1895) 9-35

Bernasconi and Critchley "Introduction"
Bernasconi R and Critchley S "Introduction" in Bernasconi R and Critchley S (eds) Re-reading Levinas (Indiana University Press Bloomington 1991) xi-xviii

Calarco 2004 Cont Philos Rev
Calarco M "Deconstruction is not Vegetarianism: Humanism, Subjectivity, and Animal Ethics" 2004 Cont Philos Rev 175-201

Calarco "Heidegger's Zoontology"
Calarco M "Heidegger's Zoontology" in Calarco M and Atterton P (eds) Animal Philosophy: Essential Readings in Continental Thought (Continuum London 2004) 18-30

Calarco Zoographies
Calarco M Zoographies: The Question of the Animal from Heidegger to Derrida (Columbia University Press New York 2008)

Cornell Philosophy of the Limit
Cornell D The Philosophy of the Limit (Routledge New York 1992)

Critchley Ethics, Politics, Subjectivity
Critchley S Ethics, Politics, Subjectivity: Essays on Derrida, Levinas and Contemporary French Thought (Verso London 1999)

Critchley "Question of the Question"
Critchley S "The Question of the Question: An Ethico-political Response to a Note in Derrida's De l'esprit" in Wood D (ed) Of Derrida, Heidegger, and Spirit (Northwestern University Press Evanston 1993) 93-102

Derrida "Force of Law"
Derrida J "Force of Law: The 'Mystical Foundation of Authority'" (trans Quaintance M) in Anidjar G (ed) Acts of Religion (Routledge New York 2002) 230-298

Derrida Of Spirit
Derrida J Of Spirit: Heidegger and the Question (trans Bennington G and Bowlby R) (University of Chicago Press Chicago 1989)

Derrida The Animal That Therefore I Am
Derrida J The Animal That Therefore I Am (trans Wills D, ed Mallet M) (Fordham University Press New York 2008)
Derrida "Violence and Metaphysics"
Derrida J "Violence and Metaphysics: An Essay on the Thought of Emmanuel Levinas" in Writing and Difference (trans Bass A) (University of Chicago Press Chicago 1978) 79-153

Derrida and Nancy "'Eating Well'"
Derrida J and Nancy J "'Eating Well,' or the Calculation of the Subject: An Interview with Jacques Derrida" (trans Connor P and Ronell A) in Cadava E, Connor P and Nancy J (eds) Who Comes after the Subject? (Routledge New York 1991) 96-119

Descartes "Discourse"
Descartes R "Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason, and Seeking Truth in the Sciences: Part Five" in Veitch J (trans) Discourse on the Method (Cosimo Classics New York 2008) 36-46

De Villiers 2012 SAJHR
De Villiers J "Towards an Ethical Relation to the Nonhuman Other: Deconstruction, Veganism and the Law" 2012 SAJHR 18-30

De Villiers 2012 SAPL
De Villiers J "Examining the Similarity Principle and Language of (Animal) Rights as a Foundation for Animal Liberation" 2012 SAPL 40-53

De Villiers 2015 SAPL
De Villiers J "Animal Rights Theory, Animal Welfarism and the 'New Welfarist' Amalgamation: A Critical Perspective" 2015 SAPL 406-433

Douzinas End of Human Rights
Douzinas C The End of Human Rights: Critical Legal Thought at the Turn of the Century (Hart Oxford 2000)

Francione Animals as Persons
Francione G Animals as Persons: Essays on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation (Columbia University Press New York 2008)

Heidegger Being and Time
Heidegger M Being and Time (trans Macquarrie J and Robinson E) (Harper Perennial New York 1962)

Heidegger "Letter on 'Humanism'"
Heidegger M "Letter on 'Humanism'" (trans Capuzzi F) in McNeill W (ed) Pathmarks (Cambridge University Press Cambridge 1998) 239-276

Heidegger "Plato's Doctrine of Truth"
Heidegger M "Plato's Doctrine of Truth" (trans Sheehan T) in McNeill W (ed) Pathmarks (Cambridge Universsity Press Cambridge 1998) 155-182

Heidegger "Age of the World Picture"
Heidegger M "The Age of the World Picture" in Young J and Haynes K (trans and eds) Off the Beaten Track (Cambridge University Press Cambridge 2002) 57-85

Heidegger Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics
Heidegger M The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude (trans McNeill W and Walker N) (Indiana University Press Bloomington 1995)

Heidegger "Origin of the Work of Art"
Heidegger M "The Origin of the Work of Art" in Hofstadter A (trans) Poetry, Language, Thought (Harper & Row New York 1971) 15-87

Heidegger Parmenides
Heidegger M Parmenides (trans Schuwer A and Rojcewicz R) (Indiana University Press Bloomington 1992)

Heidegger On the Way to Language
Heidegger M On the Way to Language (trans Hertz P) (Harper & Row New York 1971)

Heidegger What is Called Thinking?
Heidegger M What is Called Thinking? (trans Gray J) (Harper & Row New York 1968)

Levinas Collected Philosophical Papers
Levinas E Collected Philosophical Papers (trans Lingis A) (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers Dordrecht 1987)

Levinas Otherwise than Being
Levinas E Otherwise than Being, or, Beyond Essence (trans Lingis A) (Duquesne University Press Pittsburgh 1998)
Levinas "Paradox of Morality"

Levinas E "The Paradox of Morality: An Interview with Emmanuel Levinas" (trans Benjamin A and Wright T) in Bernasconi R and Wood D (eds) The Provocation of Levinas: Rethinking the Other (Routledge New York 1988) 168-180

Levinas Totality and Infinity
Levinas E Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority (trans Lingis A) (Kluwer Academic Publishers Dordrecht 1991)

Lewis 2017 Cosmos and History
Lewis M "The Relation between Stranscendental Philosophy and Empirical Science in Heidegger's Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics" 2017 Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy 47-72

Peperzak "Presentation"
Peperzak A "Presentation" in Bernasconi R and Critchley S (eds) Re-Reading Levinas (Indiana University Press Bloomington 1991) 51-66

Plato "Statesman"
Plato "Statesman" (trans Rowe C) in Cooper J and Hutchinson D (eds) Plato: Complete Works (Hackett Indianapolis 1997) 294-358

Regan Defending Animal Rights
Regan T Defending Animal Rights (University of Illinois Press Urbana 2001)

Regan Case for Animal Rights
Regan T The Case for Animal Rights 2nd ed (University of California Press Berkeley 2004)

Wise Drawing the Line
Wise S Drawing the Line: Science and the Case for Animal Rights (Perseus Books Cambridge 2002)
Views
  • Abstract 136
  • pdf 106
  • xml 21
  • epub 10
Views and downloads are with effect from 11 January 2018
Published
2018-12-13
Section
Articles