Compassion and Animals: How We Ought to Treat Animals in a World Without Justice

In Justin Caouette & Carolyn Price (eds.), The Moral Psychology of Compassion (2018)
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The philosophy of animal rights is often characterized as an exclusively justice oriented approach to animal liberation that is unconcerned with, and moreover suspicious of, moral emotions, like sympathy, empathy, and compassion. I argue that the philosophy of animal rights can, and should, acknowledge that compassion plays an integral role in animal liberation discourse and theory. Because compassion motivates moral actors to relieve the serious injustices that other animals face, or, at the very least, compassion moves actors not to participate in or cause these injustices, the philosophy of animal rights can and should recognize both a duty to cultivate compassionate and a duty to promote compassion. Contra to feminist critiques of Regan’s justice-approach to ethics, the philosophy of animal rights is not committed to eschewing the moral emotions.
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