Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://ir.library.ui.edu.ng:8080/jspui/handle/123456789/1210
Title: AN IGBO CULTURAL DEFENCE OF ANTI-SPECIESISM
Other Titles: A THESIS IN THE DEPARTMENT OF PHILOSOPHY, SUBMITTED TO THE FACULTY OF ARTS IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY OF UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN
Authors: METUONU, I. C.
Keywords: Speciesism
Anti-speciesism
Sentientism
Moral status
Igbo thought
Issue Date: 2014
Abstract: Anti-speciesism, as opposed to speciesism, is the view that non-human animals are sentient beings and so should be granted moral status; a position shared by the Igbo culture which accords moral considerability to a good number of non-human animals. Existing studies on animal ethics have addressed these issues mainly from Western socio-cultural perspectives without significant contribution from the African cultural ambient that could provide complementary insights toward the debate. This study, therefore, interrogated the speciesist and the anti-speciesist positions, using cultural elements from the Igbo thought system with a view to evolving a complementary framework that will corroborate the position of anti-speciesism from the African context. The study adopted Peter Singer’s theory of sentientism and Nwala’s theory of animism as framework. While sentientism emphasises the ability of a being to experience pleasure or pain, animism grants souls to non-human animals as criteria for moral considerability. Ten core texts on the philosophy of animal ethics which included Singer’s Animal Liberation and six on Igbo culture such as Nwala’s Igbo Philosophy, Ilogu’s Igbo Life and Thought and Onunwa’s Anthology on Igbo Myths were purposively selected. The critical method was employed to examine the positions of speciesism and anti-speciesism and to analyse cultural concepts such as ube-ariri (animal emotion) and ugwu anu (animal integrity), drawn from the Igbo thought system while the conceptual analysis helped in explaining relevant notions such as sentientism, painism, moral status and equality. Texts on animal ethics revealed two contending traditions in the animal rights debate – speciesism and anti-speciesism. Works by Singer, particularly, Animal Liberation revealed that speciesism assigns moral status to humans on grounds of rationality, self-consciousness and the ability to communicate through verbal language. Anti-speciesism holds that non-human animals are subjects-of-a-life just like humans, and so have inherent worth in themselves. However, these extreme positions have not accommodated other cultural views due to their strong western orientation. Texts on Igbo culture revealed the Igbo belief about non-human animals living in a community of their own; possessing such basic rights as freedom, autonomy and independence – ideas that are expressed in some Igbo proverbials, myths and aphorisms, which, for instance, forbid a hunter from killing or disturbing a pregnant or mating animal. Furthermore, the principle of egbule (do no harm) towards such animals as the duck, sheep or millipede, imply moral considerability. There exist culturally relevant facts from Igbo thought such as ube-ariri (animal emotion) and ugwu anu (animal integrity), captured in the Igbo philosophy of egbe bere, ugo bere (live and let live), which grants mutual tolerance and fair treatment to all beings, justifying the claim of anti-speciesism that non-human animals are worthy of moral consideration. The Igbo culture grants moral privileges to a good number of non-human animals, thereby promoting the mutual flourishing of all beings. Therefore, the Igbo philosophy of egbe bere, ugo bere (live and let live) which accords moral consideration to non-human animals, provides a complementary framework that justifies the position of anti-speciesism.
URI: http://ir.library.ui.edu.ng:8080/jspui/handle/123456789/1210
Appears in Collections:Academic Publications in Philosophy

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