Charlotte Blattner on “Animals Are (Forced) Workers, Too”

The Philosophy Department at Queen’s University is hosting  APPLE’s member Charlotte Blattner at the department’s weekly colloquium on March 15th, at 4pm in Watson Hall 517. Everyone welcome.

Title: “Animals Are (Forced) Workers, Too — Individual and Collective Self-determination of Working Animals”

Abstract: Can animals used for farming, research, circuses, zoos, or companion services be seen as “labourers”? Should animals be granted worker rights? Those are questions that preoccupy a growing number of animal rights theorists who explore the viability of the concept of animal labour. Recognizing animals as workers, they point out, could help ensure and concretize basic rights for animals that are still seen as utopian by many, notably through the right to retirement or the right to safe working conditions. However, existing theories of animal labour do not yet cover and sometimes even reject what is arguably the most fundamental labour right of all: the right against forced labour. As a result, animal workers can, for example, be denied an opportunity to decide what type of labour they perform or to co-determine the broader institutional and political aspects of work. In response to these theories, I examine whether animals require a right against forced labour and explore how this right can be secured, at three different levels: (1) initial recruitment into work; (2) the appropriate range of employment options; and (3) collective representation of animal workers through trade unions and workplace councils.