Sentience and the primordial ‘we’: contributions to animal ethics from phenomenology and Buddhist philosophy
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-21, 06:27 authored by Anya DalyAnya Daly
This paper explores the ontological bases for ethical behaviour between human animals and non-human animals drawing on phenomenology and Buddhist philosophy. Alongside Singer and utilitarianism, I argue that ethical behaviour regarding animals is most effectively justified and motivated by considerations of sentience. Nonetheless, utilitarianism misses crucial aspects of sentience. Buddhist ethics is from the beginning focused on all sentient beings, not solely humans. This inclusivity, and refined interrogations of suffering, means it can furnish more nuanced understandings of sentience. For phenomenology, sentience includes the capacities for self-awareness and, I will argue, a plural self-awareness; the ‘I’ belongs to a ‘we’, and the ‘we’ is constitutive of the ‘I’. This ‘primordial we’ provides the basis for rethinking the moral relations between human animals and non-human animals. I contend finally we thus have an ontological basis in ‘interanimality’ to explain why we most often do and should care about all sentient beings.
Publication titleEnvironmental Values
Department/SchoolPhilosophy and Gender Studies
PublisherWhite Horse Press