Animal Rights and Deep Water Horizon (Deadline for Abstracts: 8/1; Conference: 10/8-9

full name / name of organization: 
Sean Kelly/FGCU Humanities and Sustainability Conference
contact email: 

Call for papers for a panel on Animal Rights and Deepwater Horizon at the 2nd Annual Florida Gulf Coast University Humanities and Sustainability Conference (October 8-9 at FGCU, Fort Myers, FL)

The U.S. popular media had constructed the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as an environmental, ecological, economic, and even political disaster. While all of these are undeniably fair readings of the catastrophe, these same outlets have not expended much of an effort considering the effect that this event can and should have on how we perceive our duties and responsibilities toward the individual animals impacted by it.

While there are discussions about how many animals may be dying in the Gulf; how many tarred birds have been appearing on beaches; and how many fish are dying in the near-shore, oxygen-depleted environments to which they have fled, these discussions have been careful to avoid holding BP or others ethically responsible to those individual animals.

There is no question that the general public is concerned with these animals. For most of us, we have a vague feeling that we are responsible, or that at least someone is, to them. However, the public debate is doing little to help us understand this feeling. Because the disaster has been framed almost entirely within conservationist terms, terms that privilege ecosystems above individuals in those systems, the media has decidedly framed our emotional understanding in ways that absolve us from considering our duties to animals who are suffering right now in the Gulf. One of the major philosophical implications of our public failing to consider these individual animals is that we risk widening the rift between conservation and animal-rights positions to the point where a conservationist understanding totally eclipses rights based one. The danger there is that this denies us access to what a rights approach brings to the table in helping us to better understand our emotional, ethical, and public feelings regarding this unthinkable tragedy.

This panel seeks to call attention to the ethical issues that a moral individualist approach raises in the aftermath of the BP disaster. Papers from all disciplinary and methodological viewpoints are encouraged. Sample topics might include:

conservationist v. moral individualist approaches to the disaster

treatment of the Deepwater Horizon disaster from positions in traditional and non-traditional animal rights/welfare philosophy

the larger issue of ethical responsibility to non-human animals in light of the oil spill

insightful cultural studies' approaches to the media's responses

theoretical musings about the implications that this event will have for future animal rights debates

human v. animal rights in the public discourse

Please send 500 word abstracts along with a brief bio to Sean Kelly at Deadline for abstracts is August 1, 2010.