Arguing for Vegetarianism: (symbolic) ingestion and the (inevitable) absent referent — intersecting Jacques Derrida and Carol J. Adams

Between the Species 25 (1):63-79 (2022)
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In this paper I draw together the notion of the absent referent as proposed by Carol J. Adams, and the notions of literal and symbolical sacrifice by eating the other — or ingestion — advanced by Jacques Derrida, to characterize how animals are commonly perceived, which ultimately forbids productive arguments for vegetarianism. I discuss animals as being literally and definitionally absent referents, and I argue, informed by Derrida’s philosophy, that it is impossible to aim at turning them into present referents without reinforcing symbolic ingestion by linking symbolic ingestion to epistemic appropriation or conceptualization. With this, I highlight the ethical importance of discussing symbolic ingestion in animal philosophy.

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Mariana Almeida Pereira
University of Coimbra


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