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Native American Studies Center

address  119 S Main St.
 Lancaster, SC  29722
phone (803) 313-7108

Just Like an Animal?

Just Like an Animal?

"Just Like an Animal? A Philosophical Examination of our Ethical Assumptions about Cognitive Disabilities and the Value of Animals," presented by Dr. Todd Lekan, USC Lancaster Associate Dean of Academic Affairs.
It is common for privileged groups to marginalize others by comparing them to animals. Being called “just like an animal” is taken to be a deep moral insult because of the assumption that animals have little or no moral status. Given the view that humans are superior to animals because of rationality, the diminished rational capacities of cognitively disabled people have often led to them being treated “just like animals.”
With quite different aims than oppressive denigration, animal ethics philosophers compare cognitively disabled humans to animals in order to show that animals should be accorded greater moral value. The argument from marginal cases, as it is called, attempts to show that if cognitively disabled humans and animals are sufficiently alike, and we grant strong moral status to disabled humans, then consistency demands we give similar moral status to animals. This argument has troubled disabilities advocates who argue that, however well intentioned, animal advocates are bolstering the very same sorts of prejudices that have marginalized the cognitively disabled.
In this presentation, Lekan explains these arguments and offer a few tentative suggestions about how to mediate the tensions generated by them. After that, he will open the floor to Socratic dialogue. Philosophy lives in the give and take of discussion and debate. It teaches us the virtues of humility, respect, and taking the other’s view. As controversial as issues like this might be, treating them with a philosopher’s mindset helps us attain cool-headed insights about our basic moral assumptions.
To register, send your email to and the Native American Studies Center will respond with the meeting ID and password required to join the program.
Lunch and learn;lecture;talk;museum;Native American Studies
Event Info: (803) 313-7172
Price: Free
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 • Fri 3/19/21 at 12pm-1pm