Given the potpourri of human cultures and the need to take a global view of animal rights advocacy, how can animal rights advocates most efficiently and successfully advocate for animals? This article will address this issue.
First, I will describe and analyze views of the human/animal relationship from five example cultural traditions: Western culture, represented generally by Europe and North America, Indian culture, Chinese culture, South African culture, and Islamic culture, exemplified primarily here by Turkey. It is not asserted here that any of these cultures or countries are homogenous; they are not. Although Western culture is primarily constructed on Judeo-Christian traditions, there are many facets, tangents, and strands of these and other traditions in the West. India is, of course, an admixture of peoples and religious traditions, as is China. South Africa is a country with a mixture of different cultures and traditions, which have collided in recent history. And Islamic culture includes two major religious traditions as well as numerous offshoots from these major traditions and includes many ethnic groups. Moreover, it is also the case that there will always be individuals and groups within a culture whose views diverge from the cultural norm. The project here is not to attempt to represent each of these cultures as clearly defined and structured monoliths, but rather to attempt to ascertain a few fundamental principles and ideas that make significant contributions to thought about the human/animal relationship in these cultures and countries.
I will demarcate the contours and boundaries of these fundamental cultural ideas about animals through analysis of historical as well as current events and issues in these cultures, but for the most part will focus on the dominant religious thought of these cultures. This emphasis on religious thought is prompted by the fact that religious thought or conceptual constructs derived from religious thought are often the foundational ingredient in a culture’s view of the human/animal relationship, although it will be discovered that this may not always be the case.
Second, laws relating to animals from the chosen countries and cultures will be described and the cultural influences on these laws will be evaluated. Third, the implications of cultural differences and similarities for global animal rights advocacy will be scrutinized. In performing this analysis, this article will construct a model for global animal rights advocacy that incorporates consideration of cultural idiosyncrasies and, at the same time, has a foundation built on certain universally accepted principles. This model posits a “Compound Cultural Lens” of cultural influences that must be assayed in animal advocacy in a globalized world composed of a “Culturally Solipsistic Lens” representing the peculiarities of the particular culture and a “Universal Cultural Lens” that represents certain principles argued to be omnipresent in all cultures. It is posited that animal advocacy can benefit from crafting its messages utilizing these two aspects of the Compound Cultural Lens.
Recommended CitationThomas G. Kelch, Cultural Solipsism, Cultural Lenses, Universal Principles, and Animal Advocacy, 31 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 403 (2014)
Available at: https://digitalcommons.pace.edu/pelr/vol31/iss2/2