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Ethics Prize for Paola Cavalieri and Peter Singer

Ceremony for the initiators of the Great Ape Project at the German National Library in Frankfurt


gbs ceremony in Frankfurt

The Italian philosopher Paola Cavalieri and the Australian philosopher Peter Singer receive the "Ethik-Preis der Giordano-Bruno-Stiftung" endowed with 10,000 euro. The award ceremony will take place on Friday, 3 June 2011, at the German National Library in Frankfurt am Main. Cavalieri and Singer are honoured in recognition of their commitment to animal rights, in particular the initiation of the Great Ape Project (GAP).

Supported by renowned primatologists such as Jane Goodall, the Great Ape Project for orangutans, gorillas, bonobos, and chimpanzees demands some of the privileges that have historically only been available to humans: Right to life, the protection of individual liberty, and the prohibition of torture. Thus it would be considered a punishable injustice to damage apes in medical experiments, to keep them in captivity under unworthy conditions, to judge them to death, or to destroy their habitat.

"We are not the crown of creation"

New Zealand and Spain have already drafted legislation to this effect. The Giordano Bruno Stiftung supports such efforts, since they "logically result from the premises of evolutionary humanism," as foundation spokesman Michael Schmidt-Salomon emphasizes: "As humans, we are not the crown of creation, but evolutionary organisms like any other. This should be reflected in a more responsible treatment of the non-human animal world, specifically in our relationship with those creatures with whom we have shared our evolutionary history for millions of years."

The "Ethik-Preis der Giordano-Bruno-Stiftung" ("Ethics Prize of the Giordano-Bruno-Stiftung") will be awarded for the first time this year. While the foundation's "Deschner-Preis", which went to evolutionary biologist and bestselling author Richard Dawkins four years ago, represents the religion- and ideology-critical side of the gbs, the "ethics prize is intended to draw attention to the true goal of humanistic criticism of religion". According to Schmidt-Salomon, the aim is to develop "positive secular alternatives that enable us humans to live happier and ethically more responsible lives. This presupposes, among other things, that we free ourselves from the megalomaniacal idea that we tower above nature. In reality we are a part of it and more closely related to chimpanzees than they are to gorillas. Contemporary ethics must draw conclusions from this. Paola Cavalieri and Peter Singer have done this in an exceptional way."

"Many visionaries were not respected, but ostracized."

Schmidt-Salomon is aware that Peter Singer is highly controversial in Germany: "In the 1990s there was a scandalous campaign against him, knitted from grotesque misinterpretations and malicious insinuations. Unfortunately, there was no Giordano Bruno Stiftung at that time that could have counteracted this. I am convinced that anyone who has read and understood Peter Singer's books can only come to the conclusion that he is one of the clearest and at the same time most compassionate thinkers of our time. Unfortunately, many visionaries of mankind were not respected in their time, but ostracized. Peter Singer is in good company."

The ceremony at the German National Library (Adickesallee 1, 60322 Frankfurt), where renowned primatologist Volker Sommer, as well as psychologist and animal rights expert Colin Goldner will speak alongside Singer, Cavalieri, and Schmidt-Salomon, begins at 7.30 pm. Admission is at 7:00. Admission is free. Since seats are limited, reservations must be made through this website.