After Nature: “Feeling and the Role of Empathy in Animal Ethics” (abstract for my forthcoming book chapter)

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.