Charter for Animal Compassion is an independent not-for-profit led by Rob Percival. Rob’s background is in food policy. He also works as a campaigner for a UK environmental charity. The Charter is supported by a small team of volunteers, contributors and advisers.
INTRODUCING THE CHARTER
“In his 1974 essay, philosopher Thomas Nagal asks the question, ‘What is it like to be a bat?’ He concludes that he can never know. He realises that even if he were to spend his days hanging upside down by his feet in the attic, chomping on insects at dusk and dawn, he would still only know what it was like for a human to behave as a bat behaves, not what it was like for a bat to be a bat.
I think that Nagal is probably right; we cannot enter fully into the experience of a nonhuman animal. None of us can know what it is to be a bat, a dog, a chicken, or a baboon. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try.”
IN CONVERSATION WITH…
The Charter publishes regular snippets of conversation with leading artists, writers and researchers. Read our Q&A with –
Robert C. Jones
“The scientific consensus on animal sentience is conclusive. And yet even the most progressive current welfare policies lag behind, are ignorant of, or arbitrarily disregard the science on sentience and cognition.”
Robert is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at California State University. In this Q&A Robert argues that the science of animal sentience not been translated coherently into animal welfare policy and legislation, posing serious ethical concerns. Read here.
“Our research shows that people tend to see the animals they eat (e.g., chicken, pigs, cows) as less intelligent and less likely to experience emotional states than wild animals (e.g., lions, elephants, dolphins) or animals they keep as pets (e.g., cats or dogs).”
Brock is an Associate Professor in the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne. In this Q&A Brock discussed the psychology of meat, including how our moral perception is shaped by the consumption of animals. Read here.
“I think of entangled empathy as a process of moral attention. It’s a dynamic process that involves both affect and cognition and a recognition that how I am entangled in a host of relations impacts others.”
Lori is the William Griffin Professor of Philosophy at Wesleyan University where she also coordinates Wesleyan Animal Studies. In this Q&A Lori discusses her concept of ‘entangled empathy’ and explains how we can become more adept at empathising with nonhuman animals. Read here.
“We can no longer rest on the excuse that animals don’t speak human. It is not enough. Animals do communicate their feelings, and we have a responsibility to learn how to understand them.”
Helen is an animal welfare research consultant and leading animal sentience expert. In this Q&A Helen discusses the significance of animal sentience science, the question of anthropomorphism, and priorities for future research. Read here.
“We need a revolution of heart and to unleash our hearts and let our deep feelings of connection, compassion, and empathy help us to treat other animals with much more respect and dignity, and recognize them for who they are – sentient and feeling individuals.”
Marc is professor emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado. In this Q&A, Marc discusses ‘animal welfare’ vs. ‘animal wellbeing’, compassionate conservation, and the role of rewilding in a more compassionate future. Read here.
“From the outset, I I wanted to show these animals as individual spirits, sentient creatures equally as worthy of life as us. I wanted to create an elegy, a likely last testament to an extraordinary, beautiful natural world and its denizens that is rapidly, tragically disappearing before our eyes.”
Nick is a photographer and co-founder of the Life Foundation. In this Q&A Nick shares images from ‘Inherit the Dust’, his latest photographic project, and he talks about the changes he’s witnessed in his time working in Africa. Read here.
“Though it can be hard to sustain hope in these challenging times, I’m still convinced that one of the best ways of inspiring empathy with animals is by reconnecting our imaginations to them.”
Susan is a poet, performer, educator and editor, currently poet-in-residence World Animal Day and the British Animal Studies Network. In this Q&A Susan shares her new poem ‘De-extinct’, and explains why her poetry is swarming with animals. Read here.
“Nearly everything has a smell — sometimes one must move to sniff it closely; sometimes it is just a matter of noticing what is already entering your nose. I love my dogs’ smells; I let them smell me; I watch with wonder as they smell in the breeze, in my bag, follow a trail in the grass, find a lost glove.”
Alexandra is the author of the bestselling Inside of a Dog and Being a Dog, and the Head of the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab. In this Q&A Alexandra discusses the results of her olfactory ‘mirror self-recognition’ test, and how we can become more adept sniffers. Read here.
Ralph Steadman & Ceri Levy
“I hope that we can make people aware of the dreadful plight faced by so many species today. But perhaps we can lead people to this realisation with a smile on their faces before they understand the terrible implications of what we are saying.”
Ralph is a world-renowned cartoonist and caricaturist. Ceri is a film-maker. In this Q&A, Ceri discusses Critical Critters – the third in a trilogy of books written with Ralph, following on from Extinct Boids and Nextinction, featuring Ralph’s images. Read here.