Interspezies-Ethik Der modus vivendi inter-organismischer semiotischer Milieus

Translated title of the contribution: Interspecies ethics: The modus vivendi of interorganismic semiotic milieus

Yogi Haie Hendlin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Biosemiotics postulates that signaling between organisms is acomplex process that can often occur across multiple channels simultaneously. Olfactory pheromo-nal cues, aural vocalizations, and visual movements and patterns, for example, often all transmit important elements of the overall message intended or conveyed. It is also well known that some species' conspecif iccommunications are "eavesdropped" by other species (such as primates reacting to birds suddenly taking flight as signaling a potential approaching mutual predator), even if the original signal was not directed at the interspecific. Purposeful interspecific signaling iscommon, however, such as hares signaling their presence to foxes when they feel reasonably secure in order to avoid an energy-consuming hunt, or plants using volatile organiccompounds to signal that certain prey insects are feeding on the plant to other insects which feed on the prey insects and may free the plant from them. Intentional and unintentional symbiotic semiosis results from many generations of interaction between the involved species, creating grooves in the semiosphere where organisms' overlapping Umwelten open the possibility for ethical action. Due to the more constricted semiotic bandwidth interspeciescommunication touches upon, I postulate that interspecies semiosis is more scripted by generational meaning-inscription, and that such signaling is less improvisational than conspe-cific signaling. While western ethics traditionally esteems ethical events to the degree that they are voluntary, nonhuman interspecies ethics urges considering plural ethical frameworks, based upon species-specific and interspecific semiotic understandings. For many organisms, the fact that their signaling relies more on genetic than spontaneous dispositions does not necessarily indicate that instances of their convivial cohabitation are less valid ethically, however, than more flexible semiotic interactions.

Translated title of the contributionInterspecies ethics: The modus vivendi of interorganismic semiotic milieus
Original languageGerman
Pages (from-to)71-94
Number of pages24
JournalZeitschrift fur Semiotik
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'Interspecies ethics: The modus vivendi of interorganismic semiotic milieus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this