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Criticisms of anti-speciesism

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In 2018, Christophe Robaglia, professor of biology at the University of Aix-Marseille, criticized the biological argumentation of anti-specism in a column published in the newspaper Le Monde. Anti-speciesism leads, according to Robaglia, to the aporia that the life of any living being permanently causes the death of millions of micro-organisms (this is the principle of the immune system, for example). Anti-speciesism would therefore have given rise to another hierarchy of species, in order to exclude beings whose killing is inevitable and relatively indifferent to humans, and would have led to the emergence of the concept of “sentience”, which means that an animal is all the more respectable for being able to feel pain, suffering or grief. The problem with this approach, according to Robaglia, is that it nullifies the very idea of ​​”pure anti-speciesism”, since it values ​​the animals closest to humans on the biological level (essentially large mammals), and puts man back at the top of creation, a sort of return to the caricature of the classical system. Robaglia’s thesis was contested by a group of researchers and activists in another forum in Le Monde, who criticized the biologist for his “poor knowledge of the subject”.

The journalist Ariane Nicolas, in her book L’imposture antispéciste, published in 2020, “scrutinizes as closely as possible this ideology, the militant side of veganism” which, according to her, constitutes an antihumanism, or rather “a zoocentrism pushed to such a degree that our humanity even could one day dissolve into the great undifferentiated chain of ‘non-human animals’. Pointing “the finger at a society that invents beliefs to better cope with an existential vacuum caused by endless productivism and a deregulated agri-food industry”, his investigation sheds light on the dangers and contradictions of this ideology: “under cover of animal liberation, anti-speciesism [would only be] the reversal of the guilt of humans against themselves, to expiate their past marked by genocides and the overexploitation of natural resources”. On June 12, 2020, the anti-speciesist philosopher Valéry Giroux published a review of the book in the antispeciesist journal L’Amorce. The next day, she debated with Ariane Nicolas on the program Répliques, hosted by Alain Finkielkraut.

According to Ariane Nicolas, anti-speciesism claims to be part of a new intersectional current that would consist of “making the defense of animal rights a corollary of the defense of the rights of women or racialized people. They thus make all these forms of violence comparable, and it is precisely this alleged inclusiveness that constitutes symbolic violence, since it reduces the suffering of human beings who are victims of discrimination to that of mere animals.

Political scientist Paul Ariès considers that anti-speciesism paves the way for transhumanism, which he perceives as “a Trojan horse of capitalism”. Ariane Nicolas also devotes a chapter of her book to this thesis, under the title “Do antispeciesists dream of electric sheep? “.

In 2019, Ariès published the book Lettre ouverte aux mangeurs de viande qui souhaitent le rester sans culpabiliser, of which the nutritionist Bernard Schmitt gave the following report in the journal Pour la science: “With this fascinating book, we understand why antispecism and veganism are indeed the symptoms of a distortion of the representations of equality, solidarity and responsibility in our society in search of an ideal and, ultimately, an anti-humanist perversion”.

(Includes texts from Wikipedia translated and adapted by Nicolae Sfetcu)

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