Ukombozi wa Wanyama

Animal Liberation, a 1975 book by Australian philosopher Peter Singer, is widely considered one of the founding texts of the modern animal liberation movement. It develops a new ethics for our treatment of nonhuman animals, according to which their interests should be given the same consideration as the like interests of humans, and calls for an end to practices such as factory farming and animal testing. The book has had a lasting impact on generations of scholars and students and has influenced countless people in all corners of the world to adopt a vegan diet.

Almost half a century after its first publication, Animal Liberation is now finally available in Swahili! The book was translated by Deogratius Simba and published by Dar es Salaam-based publisher Mkuki na Nyota. It is available for purchase at the TPH Bookshop at 24 Samora Avenue in Dar es Salaam, and everywhere else where Mkuki na Nyota’s books are sold. The retail price is 30,000 TSh. If you are a student at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), you can find a copy of the book at the library of UDSM’s Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies.

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Irresponsible scholarship

If the ultimate test of our humanity is how we treat nonhuman animals, then we are failing spectacularly. Earth is home to vastly more farm animals than wild mammals and birds, and almost all of them live in factory farms – where conditions vary from horrible to horrific – and die violently. The sheer numbers make our treatment of animals one of the most pressing moral issues of our time. You do not need to be an animal rights advocate to recognize this truth. If you believe that animals have any moral standing at all, that unlike stones they matter, at least a little bit, then the monstrous amount of gratuitous suffering we routinely inflict on animals should offend your moral sense. A Gallup poll found that a majority of Americans in fact are either somewhat or very concerned about the way in which the animals we raise for food are treated, and extend that concern to the animals used in entertainment and research as well.

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Mtu na Jinsia

Je, unajua tofauti kati ya utambulisho wa kijinsia, muonekano wa kijinsia, jinsia ki-anatomia, na mwelekeo wa kijinsi? Baadhi ya marafiki na mimi tumeunda kitini cha ukurasa mmoja, kulingana na Genderbread Person ya Sam Killermann, ambayo inafafanua dhana hizi kwa njia inayoweza kufikiwa na ya kuvutia. Ni zana nzuri ya kufundishia na njia nzuri ya kuanzisha mazungumzo muhimu, iwe shuleni, chuo kikuu, matukio ya kijumuiya, au warsha za utetezi. Ni bure kwa mtu yeyote kupakua na kutumia kwa madhumuni ya elimu, na kukuza uvumilivu, kuelewa, na kuthamini tofauti za binadamu.

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Kupiga watoto sio sawa

Isipokuwa kama unajilinda mwenyewe au unamlinda mtu mwingine, kumpiga mtu ni shambulio, na shambulio ni kinyume cha sheria. Hakuna mjadala juu yake, na hakuna sababu nzuri sana kwa nini iwe hivyo. Watu wana haki ya kuheshimiwa. Kumpiga mtu sio tu husababisha maumivu ya mwili – ni udhalilishaji. Ndiyo maana ni nchi chache tu ambazo bado zinatumia mateso ya kimwili kama adhabu. Tunaposoma makala za habari kuhusu nchi zinazowapiga watu viboko kwa uharibifu wa kitu fulani au kuiba, wengi wetu hukwazika na kushangaa: “Ni unyama ulioje!” Tumechoka na kuchoshwa na vurugu. Ubinadamu umepitia mambo mabaya mengi sana, na imekuwa nadra sana kwa binadamu kufanya mambo mema. Vurugu inapaswa kuwa suluhu ya mwisho, na itumike tu inapobidi.

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Hitting kids is never OK

Unless you are defending yourself or someone else, hitting a stranger is assault, and assault is illegal. There is no question about it, and there are very good reasons why that is so. People have the right to be treated with respect. Hitting someone not only causes physical pain – it is degrading. That’s also why only a few countries still use the infliction of physical pain as punishment. When reading news articles about countries caning people for vandalism or stealing, most of us react with indignation: “How barbaric and backward!” We are sick and tired of violence. Humanity has seen too much of it, and hardly ever has it done any good. Violence should be the last resort, only to be used when absolutely necessary.

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Montreal Declaration on Animal Exploitation

The Montreal Declaration on Animal Exploitation is a public condemnation of animal exploitation. As of now, more than 500 researchers in moral and political philosophy from across the globe and various philosophical traditions have signed the Declaration. I am one of them. In philosophy, such agreement is rare. Its part of a growing consensus that common human practices that involve treating non-human animals as mere commodities are fundamentally unjust and morally indefensible.

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Veganizing Bangladesh

I just got back from a trip to what the British newspaper The Telegraph once called “the world’s most vegetarian country.” The country is Bangladesh, where – according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) – the average person consumes only about four kilograms of meat annually. For comparison, in the United States, the per-capita meat consumption is 120 kilograms.

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Bangladesh’s first-ever Postcrossing event

Photo: Mahmud Hossain Opu (Dhaka Tribune)

The use of postcards to send greetings to friends and family has sharply declined in recent times, mainly due to the rise of email and social media. Postcards take days, weeks, or even months to reach, and buying and posting them requires both time and money. Yet, there is magic in sending handwritten postcards that cannot be found in the digital world. Postcards travel large distances and pass many eyes before they reach their intended recipients and at the same time are more intimate and personal than an email or social media post. Kept in a safe place, a postcard is a physical reminder that someone thought of you, and cared enough to make the effort of sending it. It is a memory that lasts.

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New article, defending a novel account of full and equal moral status

My new article in the Zeitschrift für Ethik und Moralphilosophie (Journal for Ethics and Moral Philosophy) is perhaps the most important article I have written to date. It builds on arguments I made in previous publications – including in this article and this article – and presents a novel account of full and equal moral status, according to which it is no less seriously wrong to kill a non-human conscious animal than it is to kill you or me.

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Ni zaidi ya suala la familia!

Ni janga kubwa na lisilo na kifani. Linaleta uchungu na mateso kwa wanawake na familia zao. Linaharibu jamii katika kila nchi na tamaduni. Lakini cha kushangaza, ni mara chache linazungumziwa, na kwa hakika halishughulikiwi kwa uharaka, tofauti kabisa na janga lingine lolote, ambalo limewahi kuwepo angalau kwa miaka miwili iliyopita. Tanzania ni mfano wa nchi ambayo janga hili limejikita sana lakini linafichwa. Katika nchi kama hii yenye mandhari nzuri, visiwa vya kupendeza, na wanyama wa porini wa kuvutia, kufichwa kwa janga hili kunaleta kizungumkuti.

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Not a “family issue”

It is a pandemic of devastating proportions. It brings pain and suffering to women and their families. It ravages communities in every country and culture. And yet, we rarely talk about it, and we surely do not address it with the urgency it demands – in stark contrast to the other pandemic, which has been a constant presence in our collective consciousness for the last two years. Tanzania is a case in point. In the land of picturesque landscapes, tropical islands, and spectacular wildlife, this hidden pandemic casts a particularly dark shadow.

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Abstaining on Ukraine at the UN is Indefensible

Senior Russian officials continued denying their intent to invade Ukraine until the moment the invasion began. The Russians misled and miscalculated, and Europe is now in the midst of its largest military conflict and refugee crisis since World War II.

Neither NATO, a defensive alliance whose purpose is to protect its member states, nor Ukraine posed an existential threat to Russia prior to the invasion. As the International Court of Justice recently noted, there is also no credible evidence to support Russian claims that Ukraine was committing genocide against Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine. The Russian claim that their “Special Military Operation” is “de-nazifying” Ukraine is likewise laughable. The country has a democratically elected Jewish president, after all.

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প্রাণিমুক্তি: প্রাণিমুক্তি আন্দোলনের বিজ্ঞানসম্মত প্রামাণিক ধ্রুপদী গ্রন্থ

Peter Singer‘s Animal Liberation, a modern classic in the field of ethics, is now available in Bangla! It is one of the most important books that you will ever read. It might change your life. It did change mine.


প্রাণিমুক্তি আন্দোলনের বিজ্ঞানসম্মত প্রামাণিক ধ্রুপদী গ্রন্থ


Pranimukti Andoloner Bijjansammta Dhrupadi Grantha

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Ethics of Change: Winners’ Essays

On December 7 and 8, 2021, the Ethics of Change International Student Conference was held at the Centre de Recherche en Éthique. On this occasion, nine young researchers, selected after a competition in which over 200 proposals were received, presented their work.

The two best of these excellent presentations have been summarized and are available on the website of the CRÉ, and here:

Congratulations to these excellent researchers!

And enjoy reading their papers.

Ethics of Change International Student Conference

The way we live, and the norms, beliefs, and attitudes that shape our behavior are constantly changing. Much of that change is driven by people who refuse to accept the status quo and rise to ask critical questions about what is right and wrong in how governments, communities, and individuals treat others, including members of sexual, racial, religious, and other minorities, dissidents, people with disabilities, women, nonhuman animals, and the natural environment.

The Centre de Recherche en Éthique (CRÉ) in Montréal, Canada, will unite students from across the globe to come together to explore the ethical considerations around social and political activism, and strategies to achieve local and global change. The conference aims to allow students to exchange ideas across borders and make sustainable connections with each other as well as with the CRÉ.

The conference will be conducted online via Zoom on Tuesday and Wednesday, 7 and 8 December 2021.

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What does it mean for an argument to “beg the question”?

Arguments are sometimes criticized as begging the question. An argument is said to beg the question if the conclusion is taken for granted in the premises. The conclusion, however, is implicit – and hence, in a sense, “taken for granted” – in the premises of every deductively valid argument. That has led some philosophers to conclude that begging the question is not a formal fallacy, as otherwise every valid argument would be fallacious. In my latest article, which was just published in Philosophy and Progress, I argue that this conclusion has been drawn too quickly and propose an epistemic criterion that distinguishes between good and bad valid arguments.

Celebrating the Death of Lars Vilks Diminishes Our Humanity

Earlier this month, when the news broke that Lars Vilks tragically died in a car crash, comments sections from Bangladesh to Tanzania, from Indonesia to Pakistan, erupted in gleeful celebration. Vilks was the Swedish artist who in 2007 stirred worldwide controversy with a series of drawings that depicted Muhammad as a dog. One of the most common reactions to his death was “Alhamdulillah,” an Arabic phrase that means “Praise be to God.” I am not a theologian by any means, but doesn’t that border on blasphemy? After all, praising God for the car crash implies that God had a hand not only in the death of Vilks, but also in the death of the two members of his security detail who had nothing to do with the offensive drawings, and were just doing their job. One commentator proclaimed that he “bought a cake to celebrate,” and there was plenty of language used by other commentators that cannot be reproduced in a decent newspaper. Comments sections of course are not exactly known for nuanced and intelligent discussion. Rather, they often bring out the worst in people, and I am reasonably confident that the vast majority of Muslims do not share the jubilant attitude toward the death of Vilks and the two police officers. Yet, that attitude still seems to be prevalent enough to warrant reflection.

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What lessons can Socrates offer to the world of business?

Jackline, Neema, Michael, Nurath & Mbaraka

Philosophy is often dismissed as impractical and of little relevance to everyday life. But the reality of business speaks a different story. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs come from a philosophy background. Philosophers pay attention to every minute detail of a problem, yet don’t lose sight of the bigger picture, and have a unique set of skills that enables them to drive innovation and makes them valuable assets for any business.

I caught up with five of my former students at the University of Dar es Salaam who are now up-and-coming entrepreneurs, and I asked them about philosophy and their experiences as philosophers in business.

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L’éthique après Darwin

Voici une traduction française de mon dernier article, qui a été publiée dans le Bangladesh Journal of Bioethics:

L’éthique après Darwin

L’article résume les principaux arguments de certaines de mes récentes recherches en éthique animale. Je soutiens que l’idée qu’il existe une différence moralement pertinente entre les humains et les autres animaux est incompatible avec la science moderne. Merci beaucoup à Valéry Giroux et surtout à François Jaquet pour la traduction, et merci également à Shamima Lasker pour avoir autorisé la réimpression de cet article en français.