Deliberative Democracy and the Foxhunting Debate English talk by Lucy Parry (Australia)
Laura Vicuña: Seminar room, first floor
Foxhunting is the most controversial animal issue in British politics. The debate over foxhunting is highly politicised and contentious. In the past few years there has been growing interest in the political aspects of animal ethics, with an increasing number of academics offering theoretical approaches rooted in politics and philosophy to enhance animal protection. Deliberative democracy is a prominent strand of political theory that argues for a
talk-centric approach to democracy with deliberation at the heart of democratic decision-making. Deliberative democracy is known for helping to achieve environmental goals and I argue that it could also enhance animal protection.
I use deliberative democracy as a lens through which to evaluate the foxhunting debate. I first identify four different viewpoints on hunting in the public sphere, and examine how animals are represented within these narratives. I then follow these four viewpoints into Westminster and examine the parliamentary foxhunting debate. I find that despite considerable entrenchment and hostility, moments of reflection and geniality can be found in the hunting debate. However, my analysis of Westminster reveals the distortive influence of party politics and the intractability of the hunting debate. This undermines the potential for meaningful deliberation and animal protection. My research suggests a key role for animal protection organisations in holding the government to account for animal protection decisions. Animal protection organisations should adopt a more deliberative approach, but currently the British political system is a significant barrier to this. If we want substantive, feasible policies to support animal protection, we must pay attention to the political system we are dealing with, as well as individual animal issues.
Presentation slides as a PDF file