LEWISBURG, Pa. � Gary Steiner, John Howard Harris Professor of Philosophy, discusses animal rights and the vegan imperative.
Question: You have said that animals and humans are morally equivalent; can you explain what you mean?
Answer: There is a traditional prejudice in the Western philosophical
tradition according to which cognitive differences between different
types of living beings translate into differences in moral status. In
comparisons between human beings and animals, the criterion that has
traditionally been used, going back to the ancient Greeks, is this notion
of logos, which means reason or language; rational ability or linguistic
ability have traditionally been seized upon as the dividing line between
human beings and animals.
A: In my newest book, Animals and the Limits of Postmodernism, I argue
for the notion of veganism as a candidate for a moral imperative that
follows from liberal humanist principles regarding our recognition of the
moral status of animals. I examine the question whether a principle such
as veganism can be defended not merely as a lifestyle choice but as a
strict moral imperative.