Sat, Apr 19, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Philosophers to explore animal rights issues

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

A two-day international conference on animal liberation, animal rights and equal ecological rights is to be held in Taiwan next weekend, with participants including eminent philosophers, the Life Conservationist Association said yesterday.

Hsuan Chuang University professor Shih Chao-hwei (釋昭慧) said the conference is to be hosted by the university’s Department of Religious Studies, the association and the Hongshi Buddhist Cultural and Educational Foundation at the university’s campus in Hsinchu City.

With more cases of infectious diseases being transmitted from animals to humans in recent years, the conference organizers want to create a platform for academics, animal protection activists and specialists from different countries to discuss related issues, the association said.

The organizers have arranged for a European academic to give a speech on the prevention of animal-to-human infections in Europe, an activist to talk about responsive policies, as well as a Taiwanese academic to speak about the problems posed by stray animals.

Other topics set for the conference include environmental justice and animal protection, theoretical discourses on animal rights and the animal protection movement.

Shih said a highlight of the conference will be the participation of philosophers Peter Singer and Tom Regan, and Sulak Sivaraksa — one of the fathers of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) — who will deliver speeches on animal liberation, animal rights and the buddhist environmental movement in Thailand respectively.

In Western society, there are two main theoretical discourses on why animals need to be protected, Shih said, adding that while Singer and Regan hold different perspective on animal ethics, the conference will be good for people interested in the issues to better understand and discuss the ideas.

Association vice chairman Chang Chang-ter (張章得) said some people advocate “animal rights,” implying that animals should be treated as equal with humans, while others advocate “animal welfare,” implying that animals can be used by human beings, but they deserve better treatment than what they currently receive.

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