The University of British Columbia’s Appropriation of and Attack on Critical Discourse; & Why Postmodernism Fails to Protect Animals

Fun Fact: In addition to bisexual and homosexual behavior, male dolphins carry pieces of plants and twigs to impress females, rather than simply playful behaviour. The discovery could provide proof of the existence of dolphin culture – defined as a non-hereditary, complex skill taught to some members of a population by others and passed down through generations.

On today’s show we start with a review of the cookbook “The Happy Herbivore: Over 175 Delicious Fat-Free & Low-Fat Vegan Recipes” by Lindsay S. Nixon. Then we chat with former University of British Columbia students about the university’s attempt to appropriate a radical speaker series on animals that challenges the university’s governance on animals. We also talk to Dr. Gary Steiner, John Howard Harris Professor of Philosophy at Bucknell University, about his forthcoming book Animals and the Limits of Postmodernism.

Defusing the Challenge of Critique: The University of British Columbia’s Attempts at Appropriating a Critical Speaker Series

Darren Chang and Viara Gioreva are two former UBC students who were part of the organizing collective that created the speaker series “Bringing the Collective Together: Nonhuman Animals, Humans and Practice at the University.” 

The series initiated meaningful interdisciplinary, scholarly deliberation about the use of nonhuman animals in university teaching and research.  It brought together scholars from the humanities, social sciences and sciences who otherwise have scant occasion to interact.

UBC was impressed, but also scared that the series that the potential to fundamentally question and alter their practices of animal testing. UBC has a bad reputation of being extremely opaque when it comes to animal testing and saw the series as attempt to prove their “openness.” Viara and Darren are not happy, initially calling the university out in the university student newspaper. However, the UBC administration is at it again, using the series as evidence, it seems, of the openness and public discussion on campus around the question of animals.  Of course the inventors of the series are made invisible;  rendered invisible is what has motivated them to invent the series:  that there was sorely inadequate public discussion and scholarly exchange on campus around the question of animals.

The Vegan Imperative and Postmodernism’s disservice to Animals

We chat with Dr. Gary Steiner, John Howard Harris Professor of Philosophy, about his work in the philosophy of animal ethics and rights.

Steiner believes that that philosophers such as Peter Singer, Jeremy Bentham, and Tom Regan ultimately fail to truly support animals in their plight as they remain caught within a humanist framework.

In response to the failures of humanism, a number of writers who could be called postmodernists have taken up the cause of animals. But Dr. Steiner believes that postmodernists are not very helpful either when it comes to animals.

In this episode, we discuss what is wrong with the current model of humanist philosophy, why postmodernism is not the way to fight for animals, and what a truly non-anthropocentric humanism would look like.

Click here to listen to this show.

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