The 2013 Society for Existential and Phenomenological Theory and Culture (EPTC) annual conference will be held from June 4 to 7 in Victoria (British Columbia, Canada) in conjunction with the Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities of Canada.

La Société “Théorie et cultures existentialistes et phénoménologiques” (TCEP) tient son congrès annuel du 4 au 7 juin 2013 à Victoria (Columbie-Britannique, Canada) dans le cadre du Congrès annuel de la Fédération canadienne des sciences humaines.

I organize 4 panels devoted to nonhuman animals / Cette année, 4 tables rondes seront consacrées aux animaux non humains:

Panels on Animals June 5 and 6 (more detail below):
Victoria University, BC, Canada

June 5th 9:00-11:15 : Panel « Phenomenological Approaches to Animal Otherness » (Clearhue C110)
Brett Buchanan (Laurentian University) Being Towards Extinction
Don Beith (McGill University), Merleau-Ponty’s Animate Epistemology: Learning to Perceive (as) Animals
→ Chair : TBA

June 5th 14:00-16:15 : Panel « Animals: Rights, Veganism and Justice » (Clearhue C110)
Valéry Giroux (Universite de Montreal), An Antispeciest Approach to Fundamental Rights
Sue Donaldson (co-author with Will Kymlicka of Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights, OUP, 2011), Unruly Beasts: Humans and Animals Sharing the Demos
→ Chair : Vincent Duhamel (Université de Montréal)

June 6th 9:00-12:15 : Panel « Veganarchism and Paleoethics: Equality beyond Species » (Clearhue C108)
Cynthia Willet (Emory University) Interspecies Living (a serious ethics with a comic twist).
Dinesh Wadiwel (University of Sidney), Resisting the War Against Animals: Counter-Conduct and Truce
John Sanbonmatsu (Worcester Polytechnic Institute), Critical Theory and Animal Liberation (Rowman & Littlefield, 2011)
→ Chair: Chloë Taylor (University of Alberta)

June 6th 14:00-17:00 : « Book Panel on Gary Steiner’s Animals and the Limits of Postmodernism (CUP, 2013) » (Clearhue C108)
Patrick Llored (Université de Lyon) author of Jacques Derrida, Politique et éthique de l’animalité (Sils Maria, 2013)
Chloë Taylor (Université d’Alberta), « Foucault and the Ethics of Eating » (Foucault Studies, 2010)
Jan Dutkiewicz (PhD candidate in the Department of Politics at the New School for Social Research)
Gary Steiner (Bucknell University), Animals and the Moral Community (CUP, 2008), Anthropocentrism and Its Discontents: The Moral Status of Animals in the History of Western Philosophy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005)
→ Chair: Christiane Bailey (Université de Montréal)

Download the program for animal panels (PDF) – with abstract

Complete program of the EPTC



Book Panel :

Gary Steiner’s Animals and the Limits of Postmodernism

(Columbia University Press, 2013)

While postmodern approaches to politics and ethics have offered some intriguing and influential insights in philosophy and theory, Gary Steiner illuminates the fundamental inability of these approaches to arrive at viable ethical and political principles. Ethics requires notions of self, agency, and value that are not available to postmodernists. Therefore much of what is published under the rubric of theory lacks a proper basis for a systematic engagement with ethics. Steiner presents his provocative critique of postmodernist approaches to the moral status of animals against the background of a broader indictment of postmodern thought and its inability to establish clear principles for action. He revisits the work of Derrida, Foucault, Nietzsche, and Heidegger, together with recent work by their American interpreters, and shows that the basic terms of postmodern thought are incompatible with any definitive claims about the moral status or rights of animals—and humans. Steiner acknowledges the failures of liberal humanist thought regarding the moral status of animals; but instead of following postmodern thinkers who reject humanist thought outright, Steiner argues for the need to rethink humanist notions in a way that avoids the anthropocentric limitations of traditional humanist thought. Drawing on the achievements of the Stoics and Kant, Steiner builds on his earlier volumes, developing his ideas of cosmic holism and non-anthropocentric cosmopolitanism in order to arrive at a more concrete foundation for animal rights.

Gary Steiner is John Howard Harris Professor of Philosophy at Bucknell University. He is the author of Descartes as a Moral Thinker: Christianity, Technology, Nihilism (Humanity Books, 2004); Anthropocentrism and Its Discontents: The Moral Status of Animals in the History of Western Philosophy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005); and Animals and the Moral Community: Mental Life, Moral Status, and Kinship (Columbia University Press, 2008).


Speaker: Patrick Llored (Université de Lyon) is the author of Jacques Derrida, Politique et éthique de l’animalité (Sils Maria, 2013)

Patrick Llored est professeur de philosophie à Lyon, membre de l’Institut de recherches philosophiques (IRPHIL) de l’université Jean Moulin Lyon III.

Jacques Derrida. Politique et éthique de l’animalité, Sils Maria, « 5 concepts », 2013. 110 p. ISBN : 978-2-930242-63-7

patrick llored jacques derrida animalite

Quelle est l’actualité, s’il y en a, de la pensée de Jacques Derrida? Que reste-t-il de la déconstruction derridienne, nom de cette aventure philosophique qui a consisté à démonter toutes les structures de pouvoir qui sont à l’origine de notre monde : raison, langage, souveraineté, subjectivité? Dans quelle mesure cette philosophie, l’une des dernières grandes pensées ayant marqué notre époque, reste-telle en grande partie à découvrir? Cet ouvrage dégage de la philosophie derridienne une interrogation qui aura obsédé le philosophe, celle des liens que nous avons établis avec les animaux. C’est la « question de l’animal », qui pourrait paraître secondaire, qui est ici analysée en profondeur et étroitement reliée à ce qui apparaît comme l’obsession intellectuelle de l’œuvre : qu’est-ce qui nous relie à l’animalité? La frontière entre humanité et animalité a-t-elle encore un sens? D’où vient cette violence ordinaire à l’égard du vivant non humain? La politique n’est-elle pas le triomphe absolu de la violence bestiale? Peut-on déconstruire celle-ci en vue d’inventer des relations plus pacifiques et justes entre les vivants, tous les vivants, humains comme non humains? C’est donc bien à un autre Derrida que ce livre nous invite, penseur pour lequel en définitive l’éthique englobe tous les animaux, au-delà de toute espèce de spécisme.

Review : 

Speaker: Chloë Taylor (University of Alberta)

chloe taylor history confessions

Chloë Taylor is the president of the EPTC/TCEP, she is the author of

« Foucault and the Ethics of Eating » (Foucault Studies, 2010)

The Precarious Lives of Animals: Butler, Coetzee, and Animal Ethics” (Philosophy Today, 2008)

The Culture of Confession from Augustine to Foucault: A Genealogy of the ‘Confessing Animal’  (Routledge, 2008)

Speaker: Jan Dutkiewicz (New School for Social Research)

Jan Dutkiewicz’s research focuses on the political economy of human-nonhuman interaction, as well as on the rationalities, behaviors, and discourses engendered by different forms of economic and political governance.

Respondent: Gary Steiner

Chair : Christiane Bailey


2. Panel « Veganarchism and Paleoethics : Equality beyond Species »

Speakers :

Cynthia Willet (Emory University) is co-Director of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (SPEP) and the author of many books and articles. She will present us parts of her forthcoming book Interspecies Living (a serious ethics with a comic twist).



John Sanbonmatsu (Worcester Polytechnic Institute), Critical Theory and Animal Liberation (Rowman & Littlefield, 2011)


John Sanbonmatsu teaches political philosophy and ethics at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. He is a passionate advocate of animal liberation, social change and collective action. His area of interests are Critical Animal Studies, Marxism, Feminist Theory and Continental Philosophy.

His work includes: Critical Theory and Animal Liberation (Rowman & Littlefield, 2011), “Blood and Soil: Notes on Lierre Keith, Locavores, and Death Fetishism,” Upping the Anti, May 2011 (also published in longer form online, on ZNET), “The Holocaust Sublime: Singularity, Representation, and the Violence of Everyday Life,” American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 68, No. 1 (Jan. 2009), 101-127 and The Postmodern Prince (Monthly Review Press, 2004)


Dinesh Wadiwel (University of Sidney), Resisting the War Against Animals: Counter-Conduct and Truce


Dinesh Wadiwel is a lecturer in human rights and socio-legal studies in the School of Social and Political Sciences, the University of Sydney. His research interests include sovereignty and the nature of rights, violence, race, disability and critical animal studies.

Resisting the War Against Animals: Counter-Conduct and Truce

In this paper I explore how we might respond to violence against animals that operates at intersubjective, institutional and epistemic levels. In his 1 March 1978 lecture at the  Collège de France, Michel Foucault turns attention to the question of resistance in the context of governmental power, exploring the idea of counter-conduct. I will discuss the potential for framing resistance to violence against animals through forms of counter-conduct, drawing attention in particular to the opportunity to rupture the epistemic violence of human domination of animals.

I will then turn to examine the concept of “truce.” My interest is the idea of a suspension in armed hostilities that might create a space for renegotiating human and animal relationships. I will draw attention to a speech delivered by Andrea Dworkin in 1983, where she had appealed to her largely male audience:  “Even in wars, there are days of truce. Go and organize a truce. Stop your side for one day. I want a twenty-four-hour truce during which there is no rape.” I will discuss truce in this context, its relationship to sovereignty and war,  and the possibility for creating, in Dworkin’s words a beginning “to the real practice of equality.”

→ Chair: Chloë Taylor (University of Alberta)


3. Panel « Animals: Rights, Veganism, and Justice »

Speakers :

Sue Donaldson [Co-author with Will Kymlicka of Zoopolis. A Political Theory of Animal Rights], Unruly Beasts: Humans and Animals Sharing the Demos

Click for more details

Many commentators – including some animal rights theorists – have argued that non-human animals cannot be seen as members of the demos because they lack the critical capacities for self rule and moral agency which are required for citizenship. However, this worry is based on mistaken ideas about both citizenship, on the one hand, and animals, on the other. Citizenship requires self-restraint and responsiveness to shared norms, but these capacities should not be understood in an unduly intellectualized or idealized way. Recent studies of moral behaviour show that civil relations between citizens are largely grounded, not in rational reflection and assent to moral propositions, but in intuitive, unreflective and habituated behaviours which are themselves rooted in a range of pro-social emotions (empathy, love) and dispositions (cooperation, altruism, reciprocity, conflict-resolution). Fifty years of ethological research have demonstrated that many social animals – particularly domesticated animals – share the sorts of dispositions and capacities underlying everyday civility. Once we broaden our conception of citizenship to include a richer account of the bases of civic relations, it becomes clear that domesticated animals and humans can be co-creators of a shared moral and political world. We have nothing to fear, and much to gain, by welcoming their membership in the demos.

Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animals Rights (OUP, 2011)

zoopolis kymlicka donaldsonZoopolis offers a new agenda for the theory and practice of animal rights. Most animal rights theory focuses on the intrinsic capacities or interests of animals, and the moral status and moral rights that these intrinsic characteristics give rise to. Zoopolis shifts the debate from the realm of moral theory and applied ethics to the realm of political theory, focusing on the relational obligations that arise from the varied ways that animals relate to human societies and institutions. Building on recent developments in the political theory of group-differentiated citizenship, Zoopolis introduces us to the genuine “political animal”. It argues that different types of animals stand in different relationships to human political communities. Domesticated animals should be seen as full members of human-animal mixed communities, participating in the cooperative project of shared citizenship. Wilderness animals, by contrast, form their own sovereign communities entitled to protection against colonization, invasion, domination and other threats to self-determination. `Liminal’ animals who are wild but live in the midst of human settlement (such as crows or raccoons) should be seen as “denizens”, resident of our societies, but not fully included in rights and responsibilities of citizenship. To all of these animals we owe respect for their basic inviolable rights. But we inevitably and appropriately have very different relations with them, with different types of obligations. Humans and animals are inextricably bound in a complex web of relationships, and Zoopolis offers an original and profoundly affirmative vision of how to ground this complex web of relations on principles of justice and compassion.

Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka, Unruly Beasts: Animal Citizens and the Threat of Tyranny, (2013, unpublished draft)

Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka, Citizen Canine: Agency for Domesticated Animals, (2013, unpublished draft)


Valéry Giroux (Université de Montréal, CREUM), « An Antispeciest Approach to Fundamental Rights »


Valéry Giroux est coordonatrice du CREUM (Centre de recherche en éthique de l’université de Montréal) et a soutenu une thèse intitulée « Les droits fondamentaux des animaux : une approche anti-spéciste » (Université de Montréal, 2012). Elle a publié plusieurs articles, dont Des droits légaux fondamentaux pour tous les êtres sensibles (“Humanité et Animalité”, Revue Klesis 2010).

Résumé: Partant des grands principes de justice (le principe d’égalité voulant que les cas similaires soient traités de manière similaire; la notion de droit fondamental, qui repose sur celle d’intérêt; puis le principe de l’égale considération des intérêts auquel mène le principe d’égalité), je soutiens la nécessité morale d’octroyer aux êtres sensibles nonhumains les droits juridiques les plus fondamentaux : (1) le droit à l’intégrité physique, (2) le droit à la vie et (3) le droit à la liberté. (1) De nombreux animaux nonhumains sont des êtres sensibles et tous les êtres sensibles ont, par définition, intérêt à ne pas souffrir. Pour cette raison, ils devraient jouir du droit à l’intégrité physique. (2) Parce qu’ils peuvent jouir des bonnes choses de la vie, les êtres sensibles ont un certain intérêt à persévérer dans leur existence, intérêt qui, peu importe son intensité ou sa nature, doit être protégé par l’égal droit de vivre. (3) Suivant l’interprétation républicaine de la liberté comme non domination, nous devons reconnaître que les animaux ont un intérêt à être libres et que cet intérêt doit être protégé par un égal statut juridique. L’octroi des droits les plus fondamentaux à tous les êtres sensibles  implique que toutes les formes d’exploitation animale soient abandonnées et que les animauxconscients jouissent du statut égal de personne.

Abstract: Starting from the major principles of justice (the principle of equality, which holds that similar cases cases are to be treated similarly; the notion of fundamental right, which is based on the concept of interest; and the principle of equal consideration of interests, which follows from the formal principle of equality), I argue for the moral necessity of granting basic legal rights to all nonhuman sentient beings: (1) the right not to be hurt, (2) the right not to be killed, and (3) the right to an equal status. (1) Numerous nonhuman animals are sentient beings and all sentient beings, by definition, have an interest in not suffering. For this reason, they should be entitled the right not to be hurt. (2) Because they can benefit from good things in life, sentient beings have an interest in their continued existence, an interest which, regardless of its intensity or its nature, must be protected by an equal right not to be killed. (3) Following the republican interpretation of liberty as non-domination, we must recognize that animals have non only a negative interest in being free from external constraints, but also an interest in benefiting from an equal moral and legal status.  Granting fundamental “human” rights to all sentient beings implies that all forms of animal exploitation be abandoned and that conscious animals enjoy the equal status of a person.

Chair : Vincent Duhamel (Université de Montréal)



4. Panel « Phenomenological Approaches to Animal Otherness »

Speakers :

Brett Buchanan (Laurentian University), Being Towards Extinction


Being Towards Extinction

Abstract : One of the key moments in Being and Nothingness (1943) comes early when Sartre describes waiting for his friend Pierre to show up at the café where he is seated. Sartre is in the process of describing an account of “absence,” a subsidiary aspect of his greater inquiry into the problem of nothingness: what it is, what it isn’t, how to account for it, how to give it meaning, and so on. In the hands of Sartre, not to mention Heidegger, the metaphysical problem of nothingness (as well as absence, lack, silence, negation, death,…) takes on a decidedly existential and phenomenological bent. Pierre’s absence is tangible throughout the café, but nowhere particularly evident. What if this approach to absence and nothingness, which is admittedly humanistic and anthropocentric at its origin, is reconceived with respect to our thought about species extinction? In this paper I consider the plights of endangered species and species extinction – plights that are increasingly prevalent, shockingly so, within our Anthropocenic era – from an existential and phenomenological point of view. To do so I draw intermittently from Sartre, Blanchot, Heidegger, and Levinas, in order to begin formulating a condition that sees the shared and entangled lives of human and nonhuman animals, to say nothing of plants as well, as being towards extinction. Rather than the singular and supposedly unique human condition of Heidegger’s being-towards-death, what might have we to learn from a life condition that sees us all as being-towards-extinction?

onto ethologies buchanan

Brett Buchanan is associate professor of philosophy at Laurentian University (Sudbury, Ontario), where he teaches and researches in the fields of continental philosophy, environmental thought, and animal studies. He is at work on two principal research projects: (i) co-editing and translating the writings of Dominique Lestel, Vinciane Despret, and Roberto Marchesini for three special issues of Angelaki (2014-2016) devoted to philosophical ethology, as well as the translation of Vinciane Despret’s Que diraient les animaux for the University of Minnesota Press’s “Posthumanities” series (2015); and (ii) a new book length project on species extinction. // He serves on the editorial board of a number of scholarly societies and presses, including the international journal Environmental Humanities and Wilfrid Laurier University Press’s “Environmental Humanities” series.

He is the author of, among other writings, Onto-Ethologies: The Animal Environments of Uexküll, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Deleuze. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2008 (Environmental Philosophy and Ethics Series).

German biologist Jakob von Uexküll focused on how an animal, through its behavioral relations, both impacts and is impacted by its own unique environment. Onto-Ethologies traces the influence of Uexküll’s ideas on the thought of Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Gilles Deleuze, as they explore how animal behavior might be said to approximate, but also differ from, human behavior. It is the relation between animal and environment that interests Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Deleuze, and yet it is the differences in their approach to Uexküll (and to concepts such as world, body, and affect) that prove so fascinating. This book explores the ramifications of these encounters, including how animal life both broadens and deepens the ontological significance of their respective philosophies.



Don Beith (McGill University), Merleau-Ponty’s Animate Epistemology: Learning to Perceive (as) Animals

Adjunct professor Bishop’s University, Don Beith completed his thesis “Passivity in the Philosophy of Merleau-Ponty” in 2012 at McGill University (Quebec, Canada).

Abstract: An account of consciousness poses a twofold explanatory demand: on the one hand consciousness is, like any other form of life, something that becomes itself through growth and development within the natural world. On the other hand, consciousness appears as the very arena in which ideas of a self, a world, and the temporality of development have a constitutive sense. In this paper, I will identify this tension in Merleau-Ponty’s earliest work, The Structure of Behaviour, and argue that Merleau-Ponty is already developing conceptual resources to think beyond this philosophical antinomy. Merleau-Ponty radically re-situates consciousness in the growing, developing body, which is conceived as beyond the dichotomy of a world-constituting activity and a passively constituted thing. In order to develop this developmental logic of embodied consciousness, and to situate this developmental form of embodiment outside the logic of a world-constituting consciousness, I draw on Merleau-Ponty’s notion of life as sense institutingwhich he develops in his lecture courses on Institution and Nature. Using examples from motor-perceptual development, inter-species communication, and inter-corporeal gesture, I hope to illuminate the way in which consciousness emerges out of inter-bodily, affective, and developmental life. These dynamic and evolving institutions of meaning, I argue, precede and ground conscious awareness, and our very capacities of conceiving of the natural world as an object of reflection and explanation. This study of consciousness as an institution within the domains of life and animality raises questions about the limits of phenomenology, while offering new resources to think of species differences not according to essentialized differences in kind, but according to expressive, developing, and performative forms of embodiment.”

Chair : TBA



Théorie et culture existentialistes et phénoménologiques (TCEP) est une société internationale basée au Canada, qui réunit des universitaires provenant de diverses disciplines et qui organise une rencontre annuelle dans le cadre du Congrès annuel de la Fédération canadienne des sciences humaines. La TCEP publie annuellement deux numéros de la revue PhaenEx, une revue savante bilingue et électronique.

Tous les conférenciers et panelistes doivent payer les frais généraux d’inscription au congrès ainsi que les frais d’adhésion à l’association.


The Society for Existential and Phenomenological Theory and Culture (EPTC) is a Canadian-based international society of academics from various disciplines which hosts an annual conference in conjunction with the Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities of Canada. EPTC publishes annual Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter issues of PhaenEx, its peer reviewed open access electronic journal.

All attendees, including speakers, presenters, panelists and those chairing or attending a session, must pay the general fee for the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences as well as the association meeting fee. Registration is open.

Housing :

On-campus housing : There are many options to stay on UVic campus. Onf of them are cluster units, like apartment with 4 separated bedrooms with two shared bathrooms. There is a fridge and a stove but no dinnerware. Contact me if you would like to share one with other speakers. I have reserved 2 cluster units (8 people). Here is a map of MAP Uvic Cluster Housing.

Downtown hotels are closer to restaurants, shopping and nightlife (including many vegetarian and vegan restaurants). Ìt takes about 15-20 minutes bus to go to Uvic (here is a map). For a list of downtown hotels (with booking code for special rate for the conference) : 

Planning your trip:

You might consider being in Victoria on June 4th for a day-long workshop on animals at the Canadian Political Science Association / Association canadienne de sciences politiques (CPSA/ACSP)

Workshop on Will Kymlicka and Sue Donaldson’s Zoopolis. A Political Theory of Animal Rights (OUP, 2011)


June 4th 9:00-12:00 :
Christiane Bailey (U. de Montréal), Zoopolis: A Political Deconstruction of Animal Rights Theories
Laura Janara (UBC), Situating Zoopolis
Clare Palmer (Texas A&M), Contextualist Animal Ethics : A Commentary on Zoopolis
Dinesh Wadiwel (Sydney), Zoopolis: Challenging our Conceptualisation of Political Sovereignty Through Animal Sovereignties
Response by Sue Donaldson & Will Kymlicka

June 4th 13:30-15:30 :
Paul Hamilton (Brock University), Steps Towards Zoopolis? A Comparative Analysis of Recent Constitutional and Legislative Changes to the Status of Animals
Dan Hooley (Toronto), Justice for All : Recognizing Other Animals as Members of Our Political Communities
Emma Planinc (Toronto), The Freedom of Equals and Unequals Alike? Animals as Citizens in the Democratic Zoopolis
Geoffrey Sigalet (Princeton University), Francis Bacon and the Democratic Telos of Animals

June 4th 15:15-16:45
Caleb Basnett (York), Other Political Animals : Aristotle and the Limits of Political Community
Kate Daley (York), Beyond Other Animals : Haraway’s When Species Meet and Privilege within Feminism(s)
John Sanbonmatsu (Worcesthesire Polytechnic Institute), Speciesism as the Ur-Modality of Herrenvolk Politik, or, Can Nonhuman Animals be Slaves?

June 5th 10:30-12:00 :
Stefan Dolgert (Brock), Democratic Rats? Michel Serres, Karni Mata, and the Animal Research Complex
Laura Janara (UBC), Tracing the Legitimation of Animal Use in Canadian Universities
Dinesh Wadiwel (Sydney), The Universal Cannibalism of the Sea : Comparing Locke and Derrida’s accounts on Dominion, Property and Sovereignty of Animals.

Here is the program. (Download the list of animal panels at the EPTC and the CPSA here)

From June 2 to June 5, the Canadian Philosophical Association will hold its annual meeting:


Thank you all for being part of this event!

Download the program for the panels on animal (PDF)

Complete program of the EPTC / Programme complet de la TCEP

(Download the list of animal panels at the EPTC and the CPSA here)


For information :