Is Animal Suffering Evil? A Thomistic Perspective

Journal of Value Inquiry 54 (1):1-19 (2020)
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Abstract

The problem of animal suffering considers whether God would allow millions of years of animal pain, disease, and death. Philosophers who debate this issue often assume that pain and suffering are evils a loving God would not allow without good reason. Moreover, a considerable amount of the debate regarding the problem of animal suffering involves whether animals are capable of experiencing pain and suffering. But this raises the question of whether pain and suffering are intrinsically evil. In this essay I explore the nature of pain and suffering from a Thomistic perspective. First I briefly explain how the intrinsic values of pain and suffering are crucial regarding the problem of evil and the problem of animal suffering in particular. Next I explain the Thomistic concepts of pain and suffering and show that they do not contradict their contemporary philosophical and scientific counterparts. Afterward I determine whether pain and suffering are intrinsically evil experiences that an all-good God should refrain from causing. I conclude that pain and suffering are not intrinsically evil and that the problem of animal suffering is not a problem in addition to the problem of natural evil.

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B. Kyle Keltz
South Plains College

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References found in this work

The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism.William L. Rowe - 1979 - American Philosophical Quarterly 16 (4):335 - 341.
Imperative content and the painfulness of pain.Manolo Martínez - 2011 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 10 (1):67-90.
The problem of animal pain and suffering.Robert Francescotti - 2013 - In Justin McBrayer Daniel Howard-Snyder (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to the Problem of Evil. Oxford, UK: Wiley. pp. 113-127.
Evil is privation.Bill Anglin & Stewart Goetz - 1982 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 13 (1):3 - 12.

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