Neo-Thomism and the Problem of Animal Suffering

Nova et Vetera 17 (1):93-125 (2019)
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Proponents of the problem of animal suffering claim that the millions of years of apparent nonhuman animal pain and suffering provides evidence against the existence of God. Neo-Cartesianism attempts to avoid this problem mainly by denying the existence of phenomenal consciousness in nonhuman animals. However, neo-Cartesian options regarding animal minds have failed to compel many. In this essay, I explore an answer to the problem of animal suffering inspired by the medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas. Instead of focusing on phenomenal consciousness, the neo-Thomistic view of animal minds focuses on self-awareness. After proposing and providing evidence for this view, I conclude that nonhuman animal suffering is not morally significant.
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