Changing our own interaction with other animals, requires a deconstruction of a system of values and habits. A dedicated attention throughout all levels of society, to cultivate the awareness that each individual we meet has his or her own needs, preferences, emotions, mindsets and pleasures.
It is necessary to, first of all, deconstruct the current human inability of recognizing animal otherness and subjectivity, understanding how to step out of the anthropocentric paradigm to be able to apply an ethics that starts from the nonhuman animal point of view.
This requires a dedicated study and understanding of how to recognize and preserve their subjective experience. Many developments regarding animal well-being are still based on a welfare perspective and do not take into account the individual needs, preferences, pleasures, and mental health of animals. And are still far from considering animal autonomy, dignity, integrity or animal privacy. Understanding that nonhuman animals are in dialogue with the world—that they ask their own questions of the world and look for their own answers and information—is the central idea when it comes to preserving their quality of life and considering them as the owners of their own experiences and initiatives.
Considering non-human animals as owners of their own intrinsic value, as moral agents (rather than moral patients), and active protagonists on the scene of morality and subjectivity, are biological questions elements shaped by evolution, following the main theme of the Darwinian paradigm just as an arm, a tail, a mind develop. This asks for a further developed ethical consideration of them, both in animal studies, as well as in practical applications in daily life and specifically in the interaction with human animals.
When the concept of moral agency is connected to the concept that a subject is not a body useful to someone else but, instead, has a body useful to itself, it provides space for other theories about animality. A change in the day-to-day understanding when facing a nonhuman animal, asks for more than scientific acknowledgments. The awareness of nonhuman animal subjectivity, of the fact that our interaction or mere presence is a cognitive experience in the nonhuman animal’s life is something that is not easy to take into account. Therefore, seeing another nonhuman animal as an individual other—someone with a unique subjective experience of the world—requires a necessary understanding of changing values. A paradigm change is required in which the human is no longer central, so we can make room for a new paradigm of our coexistence with animality. Such an understanding must be based on reciprocal relations and on the comprehension of the concept of subjectivity.
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