Owl vs. Owl: Toward Interspecies Repair in the Old-Growth Forest
Ben Almassi (Governors State University, College of Lake County)

October 16, 2020, 1:00pm - 3:00pm

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University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Texas State University

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The Society for the Study of Ethics and Animals (SSEA) is hosting a virtual colloquium series for the Fall 2020 semester. The second talk in the series is on October 16th, by Dr. Ben Almassi, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Governors State University . His talk is titled “Owl vs. Owl: Toward Interspecies Repair in the Old-Growth Forest." Sign up here if you'd like to attend; we'll e-mail the meeting link to registered attendees on Oct. 15th.

The talk will take place at 1:00 PM, Central Time (USA)


Though many of us have constructed our lives (or have had them constructed for us) such that it is easy to forget or at least ignore, human lives are entangled with other animals in many ways. Some interspecies relationships would arguably still exist in some form or another under an ideal model of animal ethics, while others have an inescapably non-ideal character: these relationships exist as they are because things have gone wrong.

In a world without cattle farming, bull fighting, canine police units, or lab rats, human lives would not be entangled with other animals as we are now, but we would be entangled nonetheless. Even if and when abolitionists succeed in dismantling exploitative practices, the moral residue of these practices demands a kind of moral reckoning. We have duties to animals we have wronged because we have wronged them. Even if we prefer to envision other animals living in minimal relationality to humans, the long history of interspecies wrongdoing to which animal ethicists rightly draw our attention requires attending to non-ideal positive rights and duties of interspecies repair.

Here I draw upon Karen Emmerman, Clare Palmer, and my own work on reparative environmental justice to critically evaluate current US Fish & Wildlife Service policy of killing barred owls to protect endangered spotted owls in the old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. This is a thorny case to be sure, but one that I think can benefit from a non-ideal assessment in terms of interspecies relational repair.

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October 15, 2020, 9:00am PST

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