Thinking-of-the-Animal-Other with Emmanuel Levinas
De Villiers, Jan-Harm
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This article situates the texts in which Emmanuel Levinas directly addresses questions of animality against the backdrop of his larger oeuvre and argues that, despite an explicit attempt to arrange a privileged ethical (dis)position for humans, Levinas' ethical logic opens onto a deeper conception of ethics without boundaries or a priori content. Juxtaposing Levinas' ethical subjectivity with the relational structure underlying the prominent models of animal rights, it proceeds to examine the implications of Levinas' ethics for a theory of animal rights. The article concludes that Levinas' theory is not logically consistent with a thematisation of the ethical claims of animals in the language of rights and that it is best utilised as a framework within which to deconstruct the inherent anthropocentric character of current models of animal rights.