2021 Abstracts Stage 3

On Sympathy: Animal Ethics after the Death of God

Jennifer Allender, 2021, Stage 3

Animal rights are commonly understood as the rights of non-human animals to live freely from human interference and exploitation. These rights are, however, frequently violated by industries which use non-human animals to create products such as food, clothing, and cosmetics – regardless of the suffering caused to the individuals involved.

It is the purpose of my project to explore the human being’s inability to sympathise with this suffering, arguing that this inability has originated in Christian doctrine and philosophy, and can only be overcome after the death of God.

This project draws upon work from a variety of thinkers – including David Hume, Friedrich Nietzsche, Charles Darwin, Lawrence J. Hatab, Peter Singer and Gary Steiner – to investigate the role of sympathy in the creation of moral values and the Christian narrative of human dominion.

Such discussion entails a revaluation of both our moral values and the value we place on our species, concluding that the advent of nihilism in the West creates an opportunity to recognise our shared kinship with all sentient creatures, and therefore our need to sympathise with them.

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