Previous Events

Michaelmas Term 2012

On December 6th, Professor Thomas I. White of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles gave a talk at Mansfield College entitled Dolphins: Personhood, Flourishing and Rights. His argument was that the idea of personhood which as a philosopher he carefully defined should properly be claimed, together with the rights which we officially concede to all human persons, on behalf of the members of at least some other species, including dolphins, whales, and orcas. Of course these non-human persons don't need or desire the same rights as humans; what they do desire what in fact all creatures, in their different lives and settings, implicitly desire can be summed up in the verb to flourish (again, a term which Professor White carefully defined). And what flourishing means for dolphins, and for cetaceans in general, Professor White believes has been incontrovertibly established by scientific study (including his own studies over many years). Although this concept of personhood won't be useful for all species, he argued that it would help to secure the rights of some of them, at least, to well-informed and respectful treatment not just as collectives but as individuals. It would therefore be a step in the direction we want to go. This excellent talk, given at Mansfield College, was co-sponsored by VERO with the Animal Ethics Society and the Whale and Dolphin Society.

VERO at the Oxford Green Party's Winter Fair. As well as VERO's own introductory leaflet Science and Ethics, the VERO stall provided information on the Green Party's animals policy, including copies of its policy statement boldly titled Animal Rights: End cruelty and exploitation. (The full statement can be found on its website at VERO of course is not party-political, and it has supporters and patrons from all and no political sides, but party politics and individual politicians can and should make a great difference to the welfare of animals, especially if we prompt and help them to do so. As usual, the VERO stall also displayed an anthology of quotations from notable Oxford people past and present expressing their dismay, shame, and indignation at the practice of vivisection, especially in their own University. These same quotations can be found on the VERO website under the heading An Ethical Tradition.

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View Public meeting held on November 28th 2006