"Speciesism and Tribalism" François Jaquet

Monday, May 24, 2021 - 19:00


'Speciesism and Tribalism'

Animal ethicists have been debating the morality of speciesism for over forty years. Despite rather persuasive arguments against this form of discrimination, many philosophers continue to assign humans a higher moral status. The primary source of evidence for this position is our intuition that humans' interests matter more than animals' similar interests. And it must be acknowledged that this intuition is both powerful and widespread. But should we trust it for all that? The present paper defends a negative answer to that question, based on a debunking argument. The intuitive belief that humans matter more than other animals is unjustified because it results from an epistemically defective process. It is largely shaped by tribalism, our tendency to favor ingroup members as opposed to outgroup members. And this influence is distortive for two reasons. First, tribalism evolved for reasons unrelated to moral truths; hence, it would at best produce true moral beliefs accidentally. Secon d, tribalism generates a vast amount of false moral beliefs, starting with racist beliefs. Once this intuition is discarded, little evidence remains that speciesism is morally acceptable.

About Jaquet: François Jaquet is a scholar of ethics and metaethics, interested in both real-life moral issues and theoretical issues about moral judgment. His PhD is from the University of Geneva in Switzerland and he presently teaches at the University of Montreal in Canada. Going beyond the familiar “thought experiments,” he does actual research on people’s moral attitudes, for example the cognitive dissonance between a person’s respect for animal rights and the same person’s eating of meat.