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Moral relevance of cognitive complexity, empathy and species differences in suffering

Lookup NU author(s): Dr John Lazarus



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


I qualify two criticisms made by commentators on Chapman & Huffman’s target article. Responding to the view that differences between humans and other animals are irrelevant to deciding how we should treat other species, I point out that differences between any species in their capacity to suffer are morally relevant. And in response to the claim that suffering is the sole criterion for the moral treatment of animals, I argue that cognitive complexity and a capacity for empathy also have moral relevance to the extent that they influence suffering.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lazarus J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Animal Sentience

Year: 2019

Volume: 3

Issue: 23

Online publication date: 02/03/2019

Acceptance date: 02/03/2019

Date deposited: 16/08/2019

ISSN (print): 2377-7478

Publisher: The Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy