Animal Suffering: Philosophy and Culture

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Not all leading Christians disparaged animals. Some of the saints demonstrated that virtuous Christians treated animals respectfully and kindly:. Modern Christian thinking is largely sympathetic to animals and less willing to accept that there is an unbridgeable gap between animals and human beings.

Although most theologians don't accept that animals have rights, they do acknowledge that some animals display sufficient consciousness and self-awareness to deserve moral consideration.

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The growth of the environmental movement has also radically changed Christian ideas about the role human beings play in relation to nature. Few Christians nowadays think that nature exists to serve humanity, and there is a general acceptance that human dominion over nature should be seen as stewardship and partnership rather than domination and exploitation. Here are some of the animal-friendly ideas that modern Christians use when thinking about animals:.

Since an animal's natural life is a gift from God, it follows that God's right is violated when the natural life of his creatures is perverted. Linzey teaches that Christians should treat every sentient animal according to its intrinsic God-given worth, and not according to its usefulness to human beings. Christians who do this will achieve a far greater spiritual appreciation of the worth of creation. Andrew Linzey derives his theology of animal rights in several ways, but the one most often quoted involves looking at creation from God's point of view rather than humanity's:.

This resolution from the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church is typical of contemporary Christian thinking about animals:. The Papal Encyclical Evangelium Vitae recognises that animals have both an intrinsic value and a place in God's kingdom. The Roman Catholic Ethic of Life, if fully accepted, would lead Christians to avoid anything that brings unnecessary suffering or death to animals.

The official position of the Church is contained in a number of sections of the Church's official Catechism the paragraphing within each section is ours :. This sovereignty is not to be an arbitrary and destructive domination. God calls man and woman, made in the image of the Creator "who loves everything that exists", to share in his providence toward other creatures; hence their responsibility for the world God has entrusted to them. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity.

Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man's dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbour, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation. Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care.

By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory.

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Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals.

God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image. Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives.

It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. Some writers have criticised the statements above for being so firmly centred on human beings. Causing animals to suffer needlessly, for example, is described in as being "contrary to human dignity", rather than as being a wrong towards animals.

Animal Welfare in Different Human Cultures, Traditions and Religious Faiths

After all, if God was all-powerful he could prevent suffering, and if God was perfectly good he would want to prevent suffering. Oxford University Press. Benjamin Libet - - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 8 4 Justice, Caring, and Animal Liberation. Brian Luke - unknown. Health and Welfare in Animals and Humans. Lennart Nordenfelt - - Acta Biotheoretica 59 2 Marc Bekoff - - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14 4 Lansdell - - Ethics and Behavior 3 2 — Michael Murray - - Oxford University Press.

Neo-Cartesianism and the Problem of Animal Suffering. Michael Murray - - Faith and Philosophy 23 2 Animal Suffering: An Evolutionary Approach. Gill Aitken - - Environmental Values 17 2 Michael Fox - - Ethics 88 2 Animal Suffering: Philosophy and Culture. Elisa Aaltola - - Palgrave-Macmillan.

Animal Welfare in Different Human Cultures, Traditions and Religious Faiths

Bermond - - Animal Welfare Supplement Adam Shriver - - Neuroethics 2 3 A Conceptual and Moral Analysis of Suffering. Franco A. Carnevale - - Nursing Ethics 16 2 Above image here Consider the infamous Chinese dog market. Dogs are rounded up, sometimes beaten while still alive ostensibly to improve the flavour of their meat , killed, and eaten. They draw their salaries for interrogating this observation, exploding its naivety, and showing that the unexamined observation is the observation not worth making. But what can the moral philosophers bring to the discussion about the Chinese dogs?

Alone, and unaided by science, not much. The philosophy turns out to be either a reheated science or b a description of our intuitions, together with more or less bare assertions that those intuitions are either good or bad. There are, broadly, two possible categories of reasons: reasons to do with the dogs, and reasons to do with the humans who kill and eat them. For it to be uncomplicatedly akin to human pain, animals would have to have consciousness.

Lewis thought that animal pain was not as much of a challenge to the notion of a good, omnipotent God because animals have no sense of self. The mere noxiousness of pain impulses along their neurones is therefore not supplemented by the additional unpleasantness, experienced by conscious humans, of anticipating future pain. Lewis thought that this anticipation was the main component of agony. He was wrong about the entire absence of animal consciousness.

It is known to be present in many species.

Animal Suffering: Philosophy and Culture

But whether it is present or not present is an empirical question. Lewis was probably right to say that pain is exacerbated by an appreciation that it may continue into the future. The nature of pain is the appreciation of a noxious stimulus. The appreciation entails the depolarization of nerve membranes, and some central realization that the stimulus is one that should be shunned. Dogs, for instance, are plainly sensate. Their responses to painful stimuli are physiologically indistinguishablefrom ours.

What those responses are, and whether they are materially different from ours, are matters for physiologists, not philosophers. How impulses from the periphery are processed centrally is a matter for neuroscientists, not philosophers. The Greeks identified the issue: no one has added meaningfully to the debate since.

What tells us that a creature that has these depolarizations is worse off than one that does not? What tells us that it is bad to cause another creature to experience these depolarizations? They are ancient, profound and morally foundational. There was widespread disgust at the allegation.

Partly, no doubt, this was because it was thought that Cameron had behaved in a way inconsistent with his own human dignity.

Peter Singer on Animal Suffering

This does not begin to mean that the claim is incoherent or unsustainable, any more than the fact that a deep ocean trench cannot be reached by a small submarine means that the trench does not exist, or is not deep.