Human Beings and Being Human
Syl Ko with Adam Ferner and Darren Chetty
Mainstream animal advocates argue that “speciesism”, or arbitrarily giving moral weight to members of the species Homo Sapiens, is primarily responsible for animal oppression. But they have a difficult time convincing those outside the movement that speciesism is anything like racism or sexism. Even worse, they arrive at a seemingly insuperable impasse with those fighting for their civil rights, who are forced to appeal to the fact that they are human beings to have their struggle recognized. In this conversation with “Do you even Vegan?” hosts Adam Ferner and Darren Chetty, philosopher Syl Ko will explore the idea that animal advocates may be wrong to draw parallels between phenomena like racism/sexism and speciesism. Feeling that the term “speciesism” misdescribes why animals are in their current situation, Ko introduces a new ground for an animal ethic that restructures the relationship between the injustices that affect humans and those that affect animals, revealing that human supremacy should not be confused with the (necessary) valuation of being human.
Syl Ko is an independent researcher focused on the intersection of decolonial thinking and animal ethics. She is the co-author (with sister, Aph Ko) of the influential 2017 collection Aphro-ism: Essays on Pop Culture, Feminism, and Black Veganism from Two Sisters. She is currently writing a book, Human Beings and Being Human.
Adam Ferner has worked in academic philosophy both in France and the UK, but much prefers working outside academia in youth centres and other alternative learning spaces. He has published widely in philosophical and popular journals and is currently writing his fifth book, Philosophical Empire with Chris Meyns, forthcoming later this year. He is an associate editor of the Forum’s Essays, and a member of the Changelings, a North London fiction collaboration. adamferner.com
Darren Chetty is a writer and Teaching Fellow at University College London. He has published academic work on philosophy, education, racism, children’s literature and hip-hop culture. His latest book (co-written with Adam Ferner) How to Disagree: Negotiate Difference in a Divided Worldwas published last year. @rapclassroom