CFP: Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism

Submission deadline: September 15, 2022

Topic areas


Vol. 10 (2022) – No 1-2

For the next two issues of Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism, to be published in 2022, the following three calls for papers are active:

What Moral Status for Non-Human Animals? Do we have moral obligations towards animals? If the answer is yes, are they due to the effects that our actions towards them have on humans, or are they direct obligations, because animals deserve consideration as such? If, as in the latter case, animals are moral patients, in what sense are they part of the moral community? How much do their interests count compared to human interests? And what relation does their value as individuals have with that of our own species? Schematically, we can divide the answers on the moral status of animals into the following four main options (listed in ascending order of consideration). O1: animals do not possess any moral status. We have no direct obligations to them (they are not moral patients). This is the widely prevalent attitude in the history of Western thought. Not to attribute any moral status to animals means not to ascribe a direct moral consideration even to their suffering, i.e. not to accept what we might call the “Minimal Pro-Animal Argument” (hereafter MPAA), structured as follows: it is directly wrong to procure unnecessary suffering to sentient beings; animals are sentient beings; therefore it is directly wrong to procure unnecessary suffering to animals. O1’s supporters deny MPAA either because they do not subscribe to the first premise or because they do not subscribe to the second or because they reject both of them. O2: animals possess moral status, i.e. they are worthy of direct moral consideration, but it is not comparable (in any way) to that of humans. Whoever chooses this option accepts MPAA and accordingly rejects all those human practices that involve unjustified suffering directed at other sentient beings. But he does not think that animal suffering has the same weight as human suffering. Furthermore, he does not believe that an early induced death constitutes a harm to beings without a sense of the long-term future. Or, if it is, it is not such as to render their killing unjustifiable. O3: animals possess a full moral status. Whoever defends this type of position goes beyond MPAA, also giving weight to animal life and arguing that its abbreviation harms animals. Many of O3’s supporters arrive to accept the idea that equal consideration should be given to the interests of animals and human beings when equal, coming to recognize the suffering of animals the same weight as human suffering. But they believe that this does not preclude the possibility of valuing the life of mentally more complex beings (persons) as being more important than the life of mentally less complex beings (non-persons). O4: all sentient beings have the same moral status, irrespective of their biological belonging or cognitive abilities. Whoever supports this thesis makes the claim (addressed to defenders of O3) to draw fully the consequences of attributing equal consideration to sentient beings, placing them on the same level also in regard to the value of their lives and to the harm they receive from an early death. For the proponents of this option, there is no convincing argument for asserting that the life of a mentally more complex being has more value than the life of a less complex being. What is the most convincing position among the previous four?

Animal Experimentation in the Light of Beauchamp and DeGrazia’s Principles
If sentient animals have an intrinsic relevance and we have a direct obligation not to make them suffer, can animal experimentation be justified? Some answer no and assert that animal testing is an absolute prohibition. For others, although expressing in absolute terms the prohibition on the use of animals for research purposes seems excessive, a strong prima facie ban remains against experimentation. It is not a permissible act qua talis. On the contrary, it is in itself impermissible, and it would be desirable never to do so. It can be justified only if it is a necessary and sufficient condition to achieve results relevant to people’s health. But even accepting this perspective, and therefore assuming that sometimes animal testing could be the only means to preserve vital interests of the human being, it is necessary to indicate appropriate moral principles to regulate research in accordance with the thesis that recognizes non-human sentient beings an important moral status. Until now the point of reference in this regard has been the so-called philosophy of the Three Rs (Replacement, Reduction, Refinement), an approach formulated at the end of the fifties of the twentieth century by William Russell and Rex Burch. According to these two thinkers is to adopt a research model, which, while justifying the use of sentient beings, points 1) to replace, when possible, the animals used in experimentation with alternative methodologies and, when it is not possible, to use animals with the lowest degree of neurological development); 2) to reduce the number of animals to the minimum required to obtain scientifically sound data; 3) to refine (i.e. to improve) the procedures in order to minimize the harm and suffering for the animals. But recent times have brought us an important novelty from this point of view. In fact, Tom Beauchamp and David DeGrazia’s new book, Principles of Animal Research Ethics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020), aims to develop (and, where necessary, correct and supplement) the model that for many years has served as a guide for the ethics of animal experimentation (often considered insufficiently responsive to the moral status of animals by animal rights defenders). The goal of Beauchamp and DeGrazia’s text is not to replace the model of Russell and Burch, but to add complementary content for animal research ethics that, according to them, the 3 Rs framework fails to provide. For Beauchamp and DeGrazia, Russell and Burch’s principles neglect several important aspects of animal welfare as well as some important considerations pertaining to the human social benefits that justify animal research. With this Call we ask for contributions about Beauchamp and DeGrazia’s, Principles of Animal Research Ethics. How should Beauchamp and DeGrazia’s new model be evaluated? To what extent does the new model improve, if at all, Russell and Burch’s model? And is the protection that the new model offers to animals sufficient? Apart from the ethical desirability, is a research model that does not involve animals entirely feasible today?

– The Animal Ethics of Christine M. Korsgaard and Shelly Kagan
The importance of that specific area of applied ethics which is animal ethics is evidenced by the fact that by now all or almost all of the great moral philosophers have dealt with the issue of our moral relationships with sentient beings of other species. Just to name a few, R. Nozick, P. Singer, R. M. Hare, M. Nussbaum, B. Williams, J. McMahan, J. Derrida, D. DeGrazia etc. In recent years, two other important names in philosophical ethics have been added to this long list: Christine M. Korsgaard, with the book Fellow Creatures: Our Obligations to the Other Animals. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018; and Shelly Kagan, with the book How to Count Animals, More or Less. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019. Contributions on these two texts, which develop different approaches to animal ethics, are welcome. We accept papers on each individual text as well as papers comparing the two different perspectives.

Editor: F. Allegri

First issue:
Deadline for paper submission: March 15, 2022
Notification of acceptance, conditional acceptance, or rejection: April 30, 2022
Deadline for the submission of the final draft: May 31, 2022

Second issue:
Deadline for paper submission: September 15, 2022
Notification of acceptance, conditional acceptance, or rejection: October 31, 2022
Deadline for the submission of the final draft: November 30, 2022

Authors are invited to submit their papers (the texts should be no longer than 7.000 words, references included) by uploading them on the journal website. From the home page you will have to follow the For Authors link.

We recommend that you review the About the Journal page for the journal's section policies, as well as the Submissions page and the Author Guidelines.
All submitted works considered suitable for review will undergo anonymous double-blind review process.

You can find more information on the following web pages:

About the journal

Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism is a peer-refereed open access journal of trans-anthropocentric ethics and related inquires. The main aim of the journal is to create a professional interdisciplinary forum in Europe to discuss moral and scientific issues that concern the increasing need of going beyond narrow anthropocentric paradigms in all fields of knowledge. The journal accepts submissions on all topics which promote European research adopting a non-anthropocentric ethical perspective on both interspecific and intraspecific relationships between all life species – humans included – and between these and the abiotic environment.

We welcome papers, comments, debates, interviews, book and movie reviews, as well as presentations, reports, and other news concerning relevant activities and events. We envision inter- and trans-disciplinary contributions and dialogue from a wide variety of approaches: humanities (e.g. philosophy, literature, arts, law, and religious studies), life sciences (e.g. biology, ecology, ethology, medicine), and social sciences (e.g. economics, politics, anthropology, sociology, psychology). We especially encourage collaborative submissions from different disciplinary approaches, from both senior and junior scholars (including graduate students). All suitable submissions should address both academic and lay audiences as well as relevant stakeholders. Since the journal refers to an international readership of people from different disciplines, both inside and outside the academic community, contributors should keep in mind this heterogeneity of provenances and areas of expertise when writing.

The section «Comments, Debates & Interviews» includes scholarly comments as well as debates and interviews between two or more scholars. The section «Books & Movies Reviews» includes comments and reflections on important texts and movies. The section «News» includes reports and presentations of conferences and workshops, as well as information on activities, events, and other projects.

Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)