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CPP Colloquim with Eva Meijer: Interspecies Democracies

  • Eva Meijer (UvA)
Thursday 14 April 2016
CPP Colloquia 2015-2016 & 2016-2017
Reuvensplaats 3-4
2311 BE Leiden

The Center for Political Philosophy in Leiden is pleased to announce a talk by

Eva Meijer (UvA)“Interspecies Democracies”


Even though nonhuman animal communities make group decisions – they vote, negotiate, and sometimes even deliberate – political philosophers traditionally see democracy as human territory. This view has in recent years been challenged. Research in biology and ethology shows that nonhuman animals have their own cultures and languages, and that differences between human and nonhuman animals are of degree and not of kind. Recent work in political animal philosophy draws on these insights and focuses on relations between groups of animals and human political communities, proposing to view nonhuman animals as political actors. This requires not only rethinking our relations with them, it also requires rethinking the concepts attached to those relations, such as ‘politics’ or ‘democracy’, non-anthropocentrically.

In this paper I focus on nonhuman animal democratic agency and investigate possibilities for rethinking democracy with other animals. I discuss the recent political turn in animal philosophy, in which I focus in particular on the advantages of moving from seeing animals as sentient individuals to seeing them as political groups. I then turn to political animal agency in the Anthropocene and discuss how nonhuman animals are silenced politically. Building on this discussion of silencing I contrast the liberal democratic interspecies citizenship model developed by Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka (2011) with agonistic pluralism. I end by investigating possibilities for rethinking democracy with other animals.

About Eva Meijer

Eva Meijer is currently working on a PhD project in philosophy at the University of Amsterdam, titled 'Political Animal Voices', in which she develops a theory of political animal voice. She taught the course 'Animal Ethics and Politics' at the University of Amsterdam and is the chair of the Dutch study group for Animal Ethics, as well as a founding member of Minding Animals The Netherlands. She recently published a book on nonhuman animal languages, Dierentalen (2016).


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