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Sentience and the primordial ‘we’: contributions to animal ethics from phenomenology and Buddhist philosophy


Daly, A, Sentience and the primordial we': contributions to animal ethics from phenomenology and Buddhist philosophy, Environmental Values ISSN 0963-2719 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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© 2022 The White Horse Press.

DOI: doi:10.3197/096327122X16452897197801


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.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Buddhist philosophy, Merleau-Ponty, Scheler, Schopenhauer, animal ethics, enactivism, interanimality, phenomenology, sentience, social ontology
Research Division:Philosophy and Religious Studies
Research Group:Philosophy
Research Field:Ethical theory
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in philosophy and religious studies
UTAS Author:Daly, A (Dr Anya Daly)
ID Code:149246
Year Published:2022
Deposited By:Philosophy and Gender Studies
Deposited On:2022-03-21
Last Modified:2022-04-21

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