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Environmental Philosophy

Volume 10, Issue 2, Fall 2013

Elisa Aaltola
Pages 75-96

Empathy, Intersubjectivity, and Animal Philosophy

The aim of this paper is to investigate key works on empathy and intersubjectivity and to compare how they relate to non-human animals. It will be suggested that intersubjectivity forms a powerful objection to skepticism concerning the minds of other animals and lays the grounds for normatively loaded empathic responses. It will also be argued that the core of intersubjectivity takes place outside of propositional language, thus defying the linguocentric stance often adopted in relation to other animals. Although descriptions of non- or pre-lingual responses is challenging, the type of “attention” brought forward by Simone Weil is offered as one alternative way of understanding what it is to pay heed to animal others, and the work of the ethologist Barbara Smuts is brought forward as an example of such attention.

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