Admiring Animals

In Alfred Archer & Andre Grahlé (eds.), The Moral Psychology of Admiration. London: pp. 165-178 (2019)

Amanda Cawston
Tilburg University
How can we ground the moral status of animals, or help to guide moral interactions with them? One strategy is to appeal to empathy, which has enjoyed a central place in animal ethics and is often cited as a useful alternative or supplement to rights theories. Empathy is thought to provide the means by which we perceive animals’ moral status (via their capacity for suffering) and the motivational profile that can prompt appropriate action. However, relying on empathy has also come under criticism. In light of this criticism, both Prinz and Kasperbauer advise turning to other emotions such as anger, disgust, guilt, and admiration to ground moral judgment. In this paper, I take up this advice and explore the potential for admiration to ground the moral status of animals and to promote their ethical treatment. In particular, I explore the potential of Linda Zagzebski’s exemplarist moral theory (2006, 2017) to ground the moral status of admirable animals, and Alfred Archer’s Value Promotion Account of admiration’s motivational profile to support the moral treatment of animals.. I argue that Zagzebski’s view does offer important resources for grounding ethical concern for animals (though this result does not imply replacing the role of empathy). In exploring this potential, I will also raise some issues concerning our understanding of admiration and suggest a modification to Archer’s Value Promotion Account.
Keywords admiration  animal ethics
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