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Animals' Justices

Justices animales

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Published on Monday, September 30, 2019 by Anastasia Giardinelli


The question of the forms of justice to be applied or extended to animals has become in recent years a salient element of public debate, not to say a real moral panic. Justice spatiale / Spatial Justice aims to address this debate from a position of social sciences, anxious to tackle the issue of social justice, in particular by examining the spatial and territorial aspects it raises. 



This call for papers springs from a questioning on the re-emergence of a public issue (Cefaï, 1996) around the animal condition. In France, the burst of animal defenders in the media and public debates, and their visibility in general, has been spectacular these last few years. Meat diet, animal suffering, the living and killing conditions of animals, or even animal breeding, are about to become the new intolerable (Fassin, Bourdelais, 2005). Yet, the increasing importance of animal ethics is not happening consensually.

Different discourses on justice are clashing, each one seeking to review what is fair for animals, with the intention of transcribing them in standards, laws, practices and spaces. The burst of animals in French debates has its counterpart in the English-speaking world – with chronological or thematic discrepancies – in Animal Studies.

This call for papers follows from a few recent works (Gardin, Estebanez, Moreau, 2018; Carrié, Traïni, 2019), that are attempting to analyse discourses on justice as social matters, with a view to shedding light on their constructions, motivations, ethical and moral foundations, as well as their political, social and economic implications or applications, and the types of spatial organisations which follow from them.

We have observed that, for a long time, social justice philosophies have taken very little interest in animals. However, there are attempts at extending or setting new targets, some coming from animalist theories, to link animals with social justice theories for the purpose of defending them better (Singer, 2012 [1975]; Francione, 1995), and others coming from political philosophies of justice to include animals (Nussbaum 2009; Kymlicka, 2016). Moreover, we see agreements and clashes with other attempts at extending justice to non-human worlds (environmental justice, ecological justice…). These different discourses on justice find expression in practices and processes of spatial production. By generalising, while remaining sensitive to the multitude and complexity of stances, we can contrast two major structuring approaches.

In the world of animalist works (i.e. defending animals), separatism is the dominant stance. It is held by those who claim to draw their inspiration from antispeciesism – condemning any domination based on the species. Antispeciesism, by putting forward the continuity or horizontality of relations between species, comes to consider that animal welfare means separating the animal world from the human world: domestication is evil, and a good animal is a wild animal. This leads to spatial separatist measures, such as separate territories for wild animals, in protected areas, or sanctuaries for domestic animals, freed from the stable or the slaughterhouse (Horta, 2011; Lagarde in Philosophie Magazine, 2017).

A second approach insists on companionship, particularly through labour relations (Porcher et al., 2017), where companionship leads to rethinking the links between humans and animals in grounded political and economic contexts. It invites us to conceive of animals as fully-fledged producers of our living spaces, whether in lounges, boulevards, forests, parks or cattle farms.

We propose to explore four dimensions of animal justice and their spatial dimensions.

Are animals too human-like or humans too animal-like? The blurring of humanimal boundaries.

In the contemporary wealth of ethical and political opinions that seek to conceive of animals in the social realm, justice can appear as a set of key themes to debate again the founding categories of the social order. For example, denouncing the domination exercised in the name of species, enables antispeciesism to claim to be part of the major liberation struggles (antiracism, feminism: see Morin, 2016). As such, citizenship, opening up and suffering are reworked as founding categories.

Again, by generalising, we contrast on the one hand the supporters of a strong continuity between humans and animals (see for example Pelluchon, 2017), and on the other those  who are opposed to it, because they see in it a form of more or less latent anti-humanism (Digard, 2018; Wolff, 2017).

We see two tendencies among the partisans of the strong continuity. Most animalist ethics animalise humans by insisting on what we have in common, i.e. sensitivity, suffering and sentience as a form of consciousness (Singer, 2012 [1975]). As such, there is a smaller common denominator bringing humans back to their animal state, where they are both capable of suffering. But other authors insist on the fact that some social animals, through their behaviour, show a sense of co-operation, solidarity, empathy, or even a certain sense of morality (De Waal, 1996). As such, is there a tendency to “animalise justice”, where justice could be thought of as a system to regulate social behaviours, aggression, violence, like what already exists among certain animals?

This thinking brings us to reconsider spatial boundaries between humans and animals. Paradoxically, the supporters of continuity, as in the most radical antispeciesism, come to advocate complete separation between the two worlds. How would the separatist approaches or those insisting on companionship be concretely translated in spatial terms? Can we pinpoint spatial models or recurring systems on the subject (Estebanez, Gouabault, Michalon, 2013; Bortolamiol, Raymond, Simon, 2017)? Who is then in a position to produce and manage these systems for keeping animals away or making contact with them (Mauz, 2005)?

The issue of continuity and boundaries is, of course, not raised in the same terms according to geographical contexts, species, societies or social groups. Chimpanzees and earthworms are not humanised equally. Pests are not the same according to spaces and societies. As such, the problem varies according to the spatial and temporal scale under consideration, when it comes to conceiving of humanimal relationships in a common house on the scale of the planet, or in the privacy of the home.

Do we need to think about animals in normative terms necessarily?

The article behind this call for papers (Gardin, Estebanez, Moreau, 2018) intended to be an informed response to the rash of normative and axiological discourses that, in our opinion, seem to underlie paradoxes. We made no secret of our preference for approaches based on companionship, and of our distrust for separatist approaches. For all that, must we necessarily work on animals in normative terms? How can one account for the fact that calling on ethics is socially so important? Has this way of defining the debate become dominant? On the other hand, does showing one’s axiological neutrality, as a principle, mean that one withdraws from any normative ambitions?

Is it possible – and how – to determine what is fair for both humans and animals? Is it possible, beyond systematic positions and the somewhat convincing calls for pluridisciplinarity, to bring social sciences, law, ethology and philosophy to work together conscientiously, without these disciplines feeling hijacked, betrayed or stripped of their birthright?

Justice issues make it possible to rethink the fundamental problem of killing animals.

Thinking about suffering (but not death) is the basis of the utilitarian branch of justice, and of Peter Singer’s philosophy in particular. For him, death appears as something so obviously bad that it is immediately removed from the debates.

Yet, it seems to us that, to be able to conceive of the lives of animals, we must also conceive of their death, that which humans in particular inflict on them, and the way we give meaning to it. The problem is solved with technical engineering, as already illustrated with abattoirs or veterinary services, by means of discursive, technical and spatial systems embedded in production systems. As far as hunting is concerned, these are justification systems based on ecology.

Where animalists take death into consideration, we are faced with a double movement:

  • Death and suffering.
  • The construction of something intolerable or even taboo.

The works of Sergio Dalla Bernardina (2018) imply, even, that it is the construction of this intolerable that makes it possible for us to continue to enjoy the spectacle of killing, under the pretext of condemning it.

Finally, we wish to question the way spatial dimension is processed by the different discourses on justice

Beyond the analysis of the spatial distances of separatist approaches, or those insisting on companionship, and beyond the systems following from them, we can also take an interest in the way space is mobilised in discourses on justice.

It seems to us that, for example, animalist ethics tend to reify space and conceive of it as a means of action, where space exists independently from the social relations that produce it. Donaldson and Kymlicka for example, depending on the types of relationships animals have with humans, assign them to well identified areas determining differentiated rights.

The questioning on the continuity between humans and animals has also contributed to defining territory as a term. As such, we can suggest the possibility that social and political sciences were able to borrow from ethology to define territory and, conversely, wonder whether ethologists or animalist ethics do not think of certain forms of human power (private property, States, sovereignty…) to describe animal territoriality (Despret, 2017).

Submission Guidelines

To summarize the attached call for papers, which runs

until December 20, 2019

we'd like :

  • to question the animalistic theories (what place do they give to justice) or the theories of social justice (what places do they give to animals).
  • to describe how these theories consider spatial and territorial issues (from separatism to companionship?)
  • to describe existing practices concretely implemented for a greater justice towards the animals.

Expressions of interest, in English or French, should be addressed to: sophie.moreau@u-pem.fr, jean_gardin@yahoo.fr and jean.estebanez@u-pec.fr.

Expected articles

Articles may be based on a case study or offer a more theoretical perspective. More political or practical contributions from non-academic authors are also welcome. All articles will be reviewed by the peer review committee. Please respect the style sheet available online on the magazine's website: http://www.jssj.org

The newspaper is bilingual. Articles can be submitted in French or English.


We will accept full articles until December 20, 2019. The papers will then be peer reviewed before the publication date scheduled for early 2020. Please contact us to discuss any ideas you may have before this deadline.


Bortolamiol Sarah, Raymond Richard et Simon Laurent, « Territoires des humains and territoires des animaux : éléments de réflexion pour une géographie animale », Annales de géographie, 716-4, 2017.

Carrié Fabien et Traïni Christophe, S’engager pour les animaux, Paris, PUF, 2019.

Cefaï Daniel, « La construction des problèmes publics. Définitions de situations dans des arènes publiques », Réseaux, 75, 1996, p. 43-66.

Dalla Bernardina Sergio, « Le show animalitaire. Mises en scène de la souffrance animale », in Pedler Emmanuel et Cheyronnaud Jacques (éd.), La Forme spectacle, Paris, EHESS, 2018, p. 121-132.

De Waal Frans, Le Bon singe. Les bases naturelles de la morale, Paris, Bayard, 1997.

Despret Vinciane, Le Chez-soi des animaux, Paris, Actes Sud, 2017.

Digard Jean-Pierre, L’Animalisme est un anti-humanisme, Paris, CNRS Éditions, 2018.

Donaldson Sue et Kymlicka Will, Zoopolis. Une théorie politique des droits des animaux, Paris, Alma éditeurs, 2016.

Estebanez Jean, Gouabault Emmanuel et Michalon Jérôme, « Où sont les animaux ? Vers une géographie humanimale », Carnets de Géographes, 5, 2013.

Fassin Didier et Bourdelais Patrice, Les Constructions de l’intolérable. Études d’anthropologie et d’histoire sur les frontières de l’espace moral, Paris, La Découverte, 2005.

Francione Gary Lawrence, Animals, Property, and the Law, Philadelphie, Temple University Press, 1995.

Gardin Jean, Estebanez Jean et Moreau Sophie, « Comme la biche tétanisée dans les phares de la bagnole : la justice spatiale et les animaux », JSSJ, 12, 2018.

Horta Oscar, « The Ethics of the Ecology of Fear against the Nonspeciesist Paradigm: A Shift in the Aims of Intervention in Nature », Between the Species, 13-10, 2011.

Mauz Isabelle, Gens, cornes et crocs, Paris, INRA, 2005.

Morin Flo, « Animal », in Rennes Juliette, Encyclopédie critique du genre, Paris, La Découverte, 2016, p. 54-66.

Nussbaum Martha C., Frontiers of Justice. Disability, Nationality, Species Membership, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 2007.

Pelluchon Corine, Manifeste animaliste. Politiser la cause animale, Paris, Alma Éditeurs, 2017.

Legros Martin, « Tiphaine Lagarde. Une justicière au service des animaux », Philosophie Magazine, 113, octobre 2017.

Porcher Jocelyne et al., « Travail animal, l’autre champ du social », Écologie and Politique, 54, 2017.

Singer Peter, La Libération animale, Paris, Payot, 2012 [1975].

Wolff Francis, Trois utopies contemporaines, Paris, Fayard, 2017.



  • Friday, December 20, 2019


  • justice spatiale, justices animales, séparatisme, compagnonnage, animaux, justice


  • Sophie Moreau
    courriel : sophie [dot] moreau [at] u-pem [dot] fr
  • Jean Estebanez
    courriel : jean [dot] estebanez [at] u-pec [dot] fr
  • Jean Gardin
    courriel : jean_gardin [at] yahoo [dot] fr

Information source

  • Tomasz Doussot
    courriel : tomasz [dot] doussot [at] cnrs [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Animals' Justices », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, September 30, 2019, https://calenda.org/674901

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