Thursday, February 5, 2015

"Feeling and the Role of Empathy in Animal Ethics" (abstract for my forthcoming book chapter)


Abstract for "Feeling and the Role of Empathy in Animal Ethics" in Ecotheology and Nohuman Ethics, edited by Melissa Brotton (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, forthcoming 2015).


"Feeling and the Role of Empathy in Animal Ethics" 
Leon Niemoczynski, Immaculata University

This chapter seeks to address the role of empathy in animal emotions drawing out its ethical implications.  In particular, I explore how empathy and the emotions may be understood to be a means of direct affective communication - but also indirect semiotic communication - between human and nonhuman animal species.  Drawing on the work of eco-process philosophers (and theologians) Charles Hartshorne and Alfred North Whitehead I draw upon the importance of feeling insofar as it is understood to be an emotive bond and manner of expression that allows creatures, human and nonhuman, to communicate with one another.  The chapter concludes by articulating why centering on empathy and feeling within animal emotions might be important for bettering the welfare of nonhuman species in human and nonhuman relationships, thus bettering in turn environmental and ecological justice.


Leon Niemoczynski teaches in the Philosophy Department at Immaculata University. His research focuses on the philosophy of nature, where he is especially interested in issues pertaining to philosophical naturalism, logic and metaphysics, aesthetics, German idealism, philosophical ecology, animal ethics, environmental philosophy, and environmental philosophy's relationship to the philosophy of religion. Niemoczynski is the author of Charles Sanders Peirce and a Religious Metaphysics of Nature (Lexington Books, 2011) and is a co-editor of A Philosophy of Sacred Nature: Prospects for Ecstatic Naturalism (Lexington Books, 2014). In 2014 he co-edited through Open Humanities Press Animal Experience: Consciousness and Emotions in the Natural World, where his radio interview about that book on "The Philosopher's Zone (ABC National Radio)  was nominated for a Voiceless Media Prize, a prize which honors work contributing to animal rights and advocacy.