Turning to animals between love and law (New Formations 76, Summer 2012)
Author: Anat Pick
As an alternative to Utilitarianism, animal ethics turned to the Continental philosophies of Levinas and Derrida that welcome and revere Otherness. While Utilitarianism relies on a ‚Äòclosed‚Äô system of ethical calculations, the Levinasian model remains open-ended. This essay argues for a revised approach to animal ethics that combines Levinasian immeasurability, what Matthew Calarco called ‚Äòethical agnosticism‚Äô, with a closed approach that sees ethics as issuing from particular modes of practice. Highlighting some of the problems inherent in the Levinasian ethics of love as well as Agamben‚Äôs biopolitical critique of law, I propose a corrective, ‚Äòbetween love and law‚Äô, that avoids predetermining the limits of moral consideration yet insists on the social and normative dimensions of ethical responsiveness. I take the practice of veganism – broadly conceived beyond the strictly dietary – as the heart of animal ethics and consider some of the philosophical and theological dimensions of veganism as neither na√Øve nor as utopian but on the contrary, as a worldly mode of engagement that acknowledges the realities of¬†violence.