If you know who Peter Singer is in relation to ethics applied to our relationships to non-human animals, you'll hopefully understand why he deserves a fan club. If you don't know who Peter Singer is you should definitely join us to find out!
However, this society isn't a cult dedicated to an academic. It was created to create a climate of constructive, enriching dialogue at SOAS relative to questions of ethics and their application to other animals than humans. The exciting part is that this particular topic has strong and complex ties to everything from most social sciences to applied politics, social policy, culture, environmental and life sciences, and of course philosophy and lifestyle elements.
Have you ever wondered what causes us to have respect and compassion for another human and why we don't operate with the same framework with other animals, towards which we have categories of appropriate behaviour - cuddle, eat, hunt, crush, create cute memes about, breed, wear, and so on?
One of the key questions this society would like to explore through discussions and events is just that - why do humans rarely - and only contingently, if at all - recognise other sentient beings' right to autonomy? In fact, is there such a right, and how is it defined? Why does it matter? Is the restriction of our kinship circle to our own species really a rational and justifiable notion? Will our children look at our institutionalised, normalised, even foundational exploitation and objectification of anyone who happens to have a nervous system and an active consciousness of pleasure and pain, but also happens not to look or talk like us, as just another form of barbarism, like racism, sexism and slavery - as we see them now? Where do our ethical values come from, and should we justify our behaviour based on our animal identity, or as our "superiority" over other animals? How can we find a coherence in our ethical worldview, and how do current status quo and developments in the field of animal rights - whether in terms of legal standing, social integration, internalisation of inequality based on physical characteristics and vulnerability and more - affect our lives, our society, our relationships with ourselves, each other, our environment and of course other animals? Why did someone bother writing all this and trying to get you onboard with this society? Will there be silliness - and cake? Well, that last question is up to you to answer, because this society is all about democratic and satisfying discussions, which may benefit from such items.
You don't have to like fluffy kittens, be vegan or have a particular mindset relative to this question to join the society, and however much input you want to have is completely up to you. This society was created in order for everyone that comes near it (including myself, the selfish writer of this write-up) to learn and exchange ideas, some theoretical, some more practical, rather than to teach people they should think a certain way. After all, the whole point of having an interest in others is pretty closely linked with the ability to cultivate an open, respectful and curious mind. So join us if these words mean anything to you!
If you're not sure, why not watch the following video (one of so many on the subject!) while cooking or whatever it is that you do that busies your hands but leaves your hands free and see if you want to come discuss it with other curious SOAS students!
Oh and of course we need officers so do apply if you'd like to have such a role to add to your CV and your experience!