Sustainability: Same Idea, Different Name
"A fork confronts us in the path to a sustainable global civilization: a choice either to continue domination and exploitation in a green guise, or to adopt a new ethic that recognizes all sentient beings as members of the moral community" (Animal Rights, Human Needs, 2).
Angus Taylor takes on environmentalists as well as those who champion the misguided, not to mention usually inaccurate or even entirely-incorrect notion of human exceptionalism with his "new argument from nature."
"This view justifies domination by insisting on an overlap between nature and culture. As natural beings, the new story goes, we retain our prerogatives as top predators, even while culture supervenes to limit the morally acceptable ways we can treat each other. We respect and have obligations to nature in terms of preserving and enhancing ecosystemic values, but non-humans remain excluded from the moral community. Perversely, it is now our intimate natural connectedness with non-humans that renders them legitimate objects of exploitation . . . . What counts is not the capacity to suffer or even, in the last analysis, the capacity to reason, but rather the ecological niche of one's species" (3).
You've heard this, though certainly not worded this way, from commenters all over the Internets and the Googles (I miss Dubya already). These are the people who claim that eating animals is "natural" because we're at the top of the food chain–the uber predators. Angus "outlines an environmental ethic that reconciles the flourishing of ecosystems with the right of sentient beings to pursue their individual flourishing" (4).
It's been almost exactly one year since I first posted about "Animal Rights, Human Needs." I know that some Animal Person readers are new (and thanks for reading!), and revisiting the essay is a great idea considering all of the focus on sustainable animal farming.
Yesterday, Angus asked for comments on the essay as well as the Best Futures site. I'm checking it out now, and I hope you do, too.