Full Professor in Practical Philosophy at the University of Paris-Est-Marne-La-Vallée.
Author of several essays and articles in moral and political philosophy (especially on Leo Strauss and on E. Levinas ) and in applied ethics ( medical and biomedical ethics, animal ethics and environmental ethics).
Main topics : Animal, Autonomy, Care, Consideration, Corporeity, Democracy, Ecology, Enlightenment, Humanism, Liberalism, Nature, Nourishment, Responsibility, Subjectivity, Values, Virtue Ethics, Vulnerability.
Main sources: 1. Phenomenology, especially the philosophers who confronted their work to Heidegger’s ontology : Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida, Paul Ricoeur, Hans Jonas, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Henry Maldiney 2. Political philosophy: Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques. Rousseau, J. Rawls; Leo Strauss; Alexis de Tocqueville. 3. Environmental ethics ( Baird Callicott, Aldo Leopold).
I spent 15 years teaching philosophy in a high school. I then went to the USA and gave some courses in medical ethics and ethics of health care at Boston University. The students were premed students and graduate students in philosophy. I stayed in America from 2006 to 2007. I then became Associate Professor in philosophy at the University of Poitiers ( France) from 2008 to 2012 and am currently Full Professor at the University of Franche-Comté ( Besançon). In addition to my courses at the University of Franche-Comté, I also give some courses in ethics and applieds ethics in France, but also abroad ( Liban, at the University Saint-Kaslik, Beirut, in 2012; Japan, at the University of Ritsumeikan, Kyoto, in 2013).
After I finished my dissertation on Leo Strauss, in which I discuss the contribution of modern “Enlightenment” thinkers and extend this analysis to the crisis of liberalism in today’s society, I began to focus on medical practices and technology because they pose a challenge to political liberalism. Our difficulty in proposing constructive solutions to the environmental crisis and in taking the animal condition into consideration, in our lives as well in politics, is the other starting point for my work.
I work essentially in the area of political philosophy: how to deliberate on subjects that go far beyond the problem of the peaceful coexistence of freedoms and even that of the equitable distribution of resources? In thinking about the changes in democratic institutions and political culture that could put ecology and the animal question at the heart of the Republic and allow for greater citizen participation in debates on bioethical issues, I am trying to redraft the social contract. The issue of justice for dependent persons, future generations, and other species must be rethought; the point is to ground the social contract in a conception of humanity different from the one characterizing modern and contemporary political theories. This conception is based on a primary philosophy.
The second aspect of this research thus involves ontology, in that it questions subjectivity, which is no longer defined only by freedom, but presupposes a rigorously defined relationship among three cardinal concepts of what I call an ethics of vulnerability: autonomy, responsibility, and vulnerability. These categories, which have been reconfigured, require changing the way we think of ourselves and our relationship to others, including other living beings. However, unlike Anglo-American animal and environmental ethics, which focus on the moral and even legal status of non-human entities to assess the legitimacy or illegitimacy of our use of them, my ethics of vulnerability focuses on the subject more than on the object of responsibility. It therefore involves revamping humanism.
The ethics of vulnerability first arose from thinking about the identity of patients suffering from degenerative diseases of the nervous system, but it goes beyond the framework of medical ethics. It not only treats of other fields of applied ethics, it also includes the philosophy of the subject. Drawing heavily on the work of Emmanuel Levinas, it is distinct from the ethics of care, even though both challenge the abstract, idealized conception of autonomy proper to liberalism with a relational definition of identity. This definition goes hand in hand with awareness of our fragility, as well as with the affirmation that responsibility—the ability we have to be concerned about others—is central tovulnerability. It is this conception of vulnerability as both fragility and strength, and the attempt to promote the integration of individuals in situations of vulnerability by effectuating a shift from ethics to justice, that distinguishes the ethics of vulnerability from the ethics of care and from social philosophies that are more concerned with the issue of domination.
This work seeks to replace the philosophy of the subject underlying contemporary contractualism with another philosophy. The ethics of vulnerability, which emphasized the category of passivity, is the first phase in this philosophy of corporality, supplemented today by a philosophy of “living from,” which takes the materiality of our existence seriously: hunger, oikos, space and time, place, and enjoyment. Based on a radical phenomenology of sensations, it takes inspiration from the French philosophers who were able to suggest an alternative to Heidegger’s ontology of concern, such as Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida, and Paul Ricœur. Going beyond the dualism between nature and culture, subject and object, this phenomenology of nourishments aims to determine the existential structures that break with Heidegger’s ontology of concern and philosophies of freedom that still serve as a foundation for liberal political theory.
If we want individuals to change their lifestyles and integrate in their own good the common good that entails nature, the interests of future generations and animals, a virtue ethics is necessary. Not only do we have to analyze the moral traits that could help individuals change their habits and open a path that travels from theory to practice or action, but the point is also to show how it is possible to flourish and feel happy by consuming less. This inquiry into the moral traits that are at the core of an environmental ethics that does not neglect the importance of emotions, which are important motivations for moral agents, implies our reassessing the link between human flourishment and respect for nature and animals. The role of contemplation and aesthetics is also of high importance in such a virtue ethics whose foundation refers to the philosophy of a relational subject who lives from a world that is natural and cultural, as seen in Nourishment. A philosophy of the Bodily Politic.
Books in philosophy:
– Leo Strauss: une autre raison, d’autres Lumières, Paris, Vrin, 2005. François Furet prize, 2006. American translation by R. Howse, February 2014, NY, SUNY Press: Leo Strauss and The Crisis of Rationalism. Another Reason, Another Enlightenment. Summary
– L’autonomie brisée. Bioéthique et philosophie, Paris, PUF, 2009. Spanish translation by A. M. Pineda, El Bosque University, Bios y Oikos collection, 10, Bogota, July 2013: La autonomia quebrada. Bioética y filosofía. The Broken Autonomy, Bioethics and Philosophy. Summary
– La raison du sensible. Entretiens autour de la bioéthique, Perpignan, Artège, 2009. Reason and Sentitivity. Inerviews on Bioethics. Summary
– Eléments pour une éthique de la vulnérabilité. Les hommes, les animaux, la nature, Paris, Le Cerf, 2011. Moron Grand Prix of the Académie française 2012. Spanish translation, Javeriana University, Bogota, 2015. Chinese translation underway. Elements for An Ethics of Vulnerability. Humans, Animals, Nature. Summary
-Tu ne tueras point. Réflexions sur l’actualité de l’interdit du meurtre, Paris, Le Cerf, 2013. Thou Shall not Kill. A Philosophical Inquiry Into the Relevance of the Prohibition of Murder. Summary
– Les Nourritures. Philosophie du corps politique, Le Seuil, 2015. Prize Édouard Bonnefous of the French Academy for Moral and Political Sciences 2015 and European Prize Paris-Liège 2016. Japanese translation underway. Nourishment. Philosophy of the body politic. Summary
–Manifeste animaliste. Politiser la cause animale, Alma, 2017. Spanish translation in January 2018, Italian Translation in February 2018. Korean translation underway. Animal Manifesto. The Politization of The Animal Cause. Summary
– Éthique de la considération, Seuil, 2018. Ethics of Consideration. Summary
– La Flamme ivre, Desclée de Brouwer, 1999. The Drunken Flame. Summary
– Comment va Marianne? Conte philosophique et républicain, Paris, François Bourin, 2012. How is Marianne? A Philosophical and Republican Tale. Summary
Bioethics and Philosophy ( Japan, 2013).Syllabus_Form_Prof.Pelluchon