New Publications: Reification of Non-Human Animals; Scepticism and Distrust

Silvia Caprioglio Panizza has two new publications that are now available for early view online:

Abstract: Faced with urgent calls for more trust in experts, especially in high impact and politically sensitive domains, such as climate science and COVID-19, the complex nature of public trust in experts and the need for a more critical approach to the topic are easy to overlook. Scepticism – at least in its Humean mitigated form that encourages independent, questioning attitudes – can prove valuable to democratic governance, but stands in opposition to the cognitive dependency entailed by epistemic trust. In this paper, we investigate the tension between the value of mitigated scepticism and the need for trust in experts. We offer four arguments in favour of mitigated scepticism: the argument from loss of intellectual autonomy; the argument from democratic deficit; the argument from the normative failures of science; and the argument from past and current injustices. One solution, which we reject, is the idea that reliance, rather than trust, is sufficient for accommodating experts in policy matters. The solution we endorse is to create a ‘climate of trust’, where questioning experts and expertise is welcomed, but the epistemic trust necessary for acting upon information which the public cannot obtain first-hand is enabled and encouraged through structural, institutional and justice-based measures.

​Abstract: This paper takes up Axel Honneth’s suggestion that we, in the 21st century Western world, should revisit the Marxian idea of reification; unlike Honneth, however, this paper applies reification to the ways in which humans relate to non-human animals, particularly in the context of scientific experiments. Thinking about these practices through the lens of reification, the paper argues, yields a more helpful understanding of what is regarded as problematic in those practices than the standard animal rights approaches. The second part of the paper offers ways of overcoming reification that go beyond Honneth’s idea of recognition by introducing Iris Murdoch’s idea of attention. This proposed strategy makes the ethical relevance of reification more salient and makes it possible to counter reification through a practice such as attention which, unlike recognition, can be consciously established.