Animal Deliberation

  • Clemens Driessen
Part of the The Palgrave Macmillan Animal Ethics Series book series (PMAES)


Animals tend to figure in political discourse only in ethical terms, as merely passive recipients of human attention, either for being the receptacles of suffering or the bearers of rights. Even, or perhaps especially, the most radical calls for inclusion of animals in our moral community can be said to do no more than grant animals ‘the right to remain silent’ (Oliver 2009). Representative rather than participatory democracy is all they can politically achieve, amounting to a situation in which the interests of animals are defended on their behalf by social movements calling for their protection and animal scientists reporting on their species-specific capacities and needs. Actively involving animals in political processes sounds ridiculous in the dominant traditions of political thought; by definition they have no ‘voice’ and cannot ‘speak for themselves’. And with politics imagined to be necessarily discursive in nature (Tully 2002), we self-evidently define ourselves as the exclusive political animal (Wadiwel 2002). A select few groups of higher mammals may be thought to engage among each other in something that we could call politics (De Waal 2007). A wider range of social species even are involved in collective decision-making processes that can be seen as democratic and consensus oriented (Conradt and Roper 2007). But even in those instances, their and our


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© Clemens Driessen 2014

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  • Clemens Driessen

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