Throughout the past few months, I have been exploring empathy and ethics through discussions, scholarly readings, fictional novels, social media, and other digital media, including images and film. I have given myself ample amounts of time to gain a descent understanding of not only what the terms “empathy” and “ethics” mean, but also how they are used in society.
I tend to hold a non-anthropocentric view of society, allowing society to encompass not only humans, but our non-human animal neighbors as well. I am interested in researching the empirical studies behind empathy (human to human, human to non-human animal, even non-human animal to non-human animal) and using that, along with animal rights ethics (philosophical arguments and theories) to answer the critical question “can empathy be expanded to non-human animals, or is it an inherently human trait?” and also explore subsequent questions such as “if so, what are the pros and cons of expanding empathy to non-human animals?”, “What role does empathy play in defining and shaping our morality, and how does this role change when expanding morality to include non-human animals?”, and “How can empathy for non-human animals be compared and contrasted with other feelings, such as sympathy, or compassion?”.
I plan on setting up a foundational argument explaining empathy and ethics and restricting the scope to purely humans, as to prepare readers for subsequent arguments for expanding both to non-human animals. I have already found many useful scholarly articles both in support of my position, that empathy can and should be expanded to non-human animals, and contrasting my position, offering valuable counter-positions to explore and use to further support my position. I already see an issue with attempting to argue my position on a purely empirical basis, considering the research available is limited and has problems of its own, so I am going to examine current ethical theories (animal rights theories and other theories of morality) to create my own informed philosophical argument. I want to take a more persuasive argument approach, highlighting the benefits of expanding empathy and ethics to non-human animals, to advocate for animal rights, a well-informed belief that I hold strongly.
Potential Scholarly Sources
Aaltola, E. “Skepticism, Empathy, and Animal Suffering.” JOURNAL OF BIOETHICAL INQUIRY 10.4 (2013): 457-67. Web.
Angantyr, M., J. Eklund, and EM Hansen. “A Comparison of Empathy for Humans and Empathy for Animals.” ANTHROZOOS 24.4 (2011): 369-77. Web.
Kasperbauer, T. J. “Rejecting Empathy for Animal Ethics.” Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18.4 (2015): 817-33. Web.
Kielland, C., et al. “Dairy Farmer Attitudes and Empathy Toward Animals are Associated with Animal Welfare Indicators.” Journal of dairy science 93.7 (2010): 2998-3006. Web.
Prguda, E., and DL Neurnann. “Inter-Human and Animal-Directed Empathy: A Test for Evolutionary Biases in Empathetic Responding.” Behavioural processes 108 (2014): 80-6. Web.
Rothgerber, H., and F. Mican. “Childhood Pet Ownership, Attachment to Pets, and Subsequent Meat Avoidance. the Mediating Role of Empathy Toward Animals.” Appetite 79 (2014): 11-7. Web.
“Empathy You’re Doing it Wrong” Image: http://img.scoop.it/IM8L4-Knr_NFX4YRbcH4XDl72eJkfbmt4t8yenImKBVvK0kTmF0xjctABnaLJIm9