A large and enthusiastic audience attended the inaugural Tom Regan Lecture, which took place at NC State on the afternoon of September 21. The speaker was Carol J. Adams, an early advocate of eco-feminism and the author of many books. The lecture was co-sponsored by the University’s Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies and the Culture and Animals Foundation, which initiated the series and will organize future Regan Lectures at other venues.
The series honors the work of Tom Regan, who served on the philosophy faculty at NC State for over 34 years, retiring in 2002. An award-winning teacher and a prolific author, Regan published more than 20 books and hundreds of articles. His influence extended far beyond the halls of academia, primarily through his work on animal rights.
Regan’s most famous book, The Case for Animal Rights, was published by the University of California Press in 1983. The book was translated into several languages and had an enormous impact, securing a place for the idea of animal rights on both the philosophical and the public agenda. In December 2009, the Utne Reader named Regan “one of the 50 visionaries who are changing your view of the world.” He died in Raleigh in February 2017 at the age of 78.
Adams’s lecture, “Animal Ethics and Contemporary Politics,” was a lively presentation enriched by an impressive visual and audio-visual display. After paying homage to Tom Regan and acknowledging a grant from the Culture and Animals Foundation in support of her work on her book The Sexual Politics of Meat (Continuum, 1990), Adams proceeded to offer a spirited polemic against an exceptionalist ethic of force that privileges white males over women, minorities and animals on the basis of their differences from white males. Adams wrapped up her talk by advocating a feminist-vegan ethics of care that seeks to understand and respond to privilege and is sensitive to the voices of the oppressed.
The lecture was preceded by a display of materials from the Tom Regan Papers and other collections on animal rights and animal welfare in the NC State University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center. It was followed by a book-signing and reception.