Animals are sentient beings. Mammals, birds, fish and many other creatures possess the ability to feel and perceive; they experience the world subjectively. The weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. As fellow participants in sentient and conscious life, animals experience fear and pain, excitement and joy. What happens to them matters to them. What happens to them should also matter to us.
Our interactions with animals often lack compassion. Compassion lies at the heart of moral behaviour, impelling us to alleviate suffering and treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion calls on us to unseat our species from the centre of the world so that other species can flourish. It seeks the wellbeing of all creatures and respects the integrity of animal life. It is the heart of our humanity, the expression of an evolved empathy.
Empathy is the art of perspective taking, the ability to see through the eyes of another, to step imaginatively into their skin. Empathy takes us beyond ourselves. Through empathy we participate in experiences and feelings that are not our own. We understand the world as a plurality of points of view, prolific with different forms of intelligence. Empathy can carry us into feather and fur, into non-human minds, albeit imperfectly. Empathy makes possible the practice of animal compassion.
We call upon all people to act compassionately towards animals. In this age of habitat loss and wildlife destruction, as species slip into extinction and billions of sentient beings suffer in intensive farms, we urgently need to kindle a shared commitment to animal compassion. This begins by paying heed to animal perspectives in how we feed ourselves, organise our society, and interact with our natural environment. It begins with the belief that a more equitable world is possible.
We call upon artists and scientists to collaborate in bringing animal perspectives to life. As a society we find that we are alienated from animal points of view, stranded beyond an ‘empathy gap’. We struggle to understand the experiences and feelings of our mammalian, avian, reptilian, amphibian and aquatic kin. The science of animal sentience must be translated and carried into popular consciousness if it is to inspire compassion. We call on artists and writers to take up this challenge.
Charter signatories include:
Carol J Adams, Feminist-vegan advocate and scholar, author of The Sexual Politics of Meat
Melissa Amarello, Co-founder of Advocates for Snake Preservation, winner of the Jarchow Conservation Award 2017
Shelley Alexander, Professor of Earth Sciences, University of Calgary, founder of the Canid Conservation Science Lab
Kristin Andrews, Associate Professor of Philosophy, York University, editor of The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Animal Minds
Animal Interfaith Alliance, Alliance of organisations advocating for the humane treatment of animals, representing Anglican, Buddhist, Catholic, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Quaker and Unitarian faiths
ATM, Street artist, painter of endangered animals
Brock Bastian, Associate Professor in the School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne, expert in the psychology of meat consumption and motivated morality
Marc Bekoff, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, author of The Animals’ Agenda: Freedom, Compassion, and Coexistence in the Human Age, recipient of the Exemplar Award from the Animal Behavior Society for contributions to the field of animal behaviour
Sarah M. Bexell, Research Associate Professor, Institute for Human-Animal Connection, University of Denver, Director of Conservation Education, Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
Nick Brandt, Photographer, creator of the On This Earth trilogy and Inherit the Dust, co-founder of Big Life Foundation
Gemma Carder, Sentience and Research Manager, World Animal Protection
Alasdair Cochrane, Senior Lecturer in Political Theory, University of Sheffield, author of An Introduction to Animals and Political Theory, co-founder of the Centre for Animals and Social Justice
Neil D’Cruz, Wildlife biologist, Head of Wildlife Research & Policy, World Animal Protection
David DeGrazia, Professor of Philosophy, George Washington University, author of Taking Animals Seriously: Mental Life and Moral Status
Debra Durham, Animal behaviourist and wildlife biologist, Director of Behaviour & Research, Save the Chimps
Stephen F. Eisenman, Professor of Art History, Northwestern University, Co-Founder and Director of Art and Communications, Anthropocene Alliance
Hope Ferdowsian, Physician, advocate, author of Phoenix Zones (forthcoming)
Charles Foster, Writer, barrister, philosopher, author of Being a Beast
Robert Garner, Professor of Political Theory, University of Leicester, author of A Theory of Justice for Animals, co-founder of the Centre for Animals and Social Justice
Carol Gigliotti, Writer, scholar, activist, author of The Creative Lives of Animals (forthcoming)
Lori Gruen, William Griffin Professor of Philosophy, Wesleyan University, author of Entangled Empathy: An Alternative Ethic For Our Relationships with Animals
Brian Hare, Associate Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology, Duke University, founder of the Duke Canine Cognition Center, author of Genius of Dogs: Discovering The Unique Intelligence Of Man’s Best Friend
Stevan Harnad, Professor of Cognitive Sciences in the Department of Psychology, University of Quebec, Editor-in-Chief, Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling
Martin Henig, Reverend, Professor, Vice-President of Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals
Hal Herzog, Professor of Psychology, Western Carolina University, Distinguished Scholar of the International Society for Anthrozoology, author of Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals
Alexandra Horowitz, Cognitive scientist, author of Inside of a Dog and Being a Dog, head of the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab
IFEEL, Musician, rapper, animal advocate
Leslie Irvine, Professor of Sociology, University of Colorado, author of My Dog Always Eats First and If You Tame Me: Understanding our Connection with Animals
Robert C. Jones, Professor, Department of Philosophy, California State University, member of the Advisory Council for the National Museum of Animals & Society
Lisa Kemmer, Professor of Philosophy and Religions, Montana State University Billings, author of Call to Compassion: Religious Perspectives on Animal Advocacy
Helen Lambert, Animal welfare scientist specialising in animal sentience, founder of the Sentience Mosaic
Steve Loughnan, School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, University of Edinburgh, expert in the psychology and ethics of meat consumption
Reynard Loki, Writer, Editor for environment, food and animal rights at AlterNet
Joel Marks, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University of New Haven, Bioethics Center Scholar, Yale University, author of Traitors To Their Kind
Alan McElligott, Associate Professor in Animal Behaviour, University of Roehampton
Bethan McFadden, Artist, draughtswoman
Sy Montgomery, Writer, naturalist, author of The Soul of an Octopus and The Good Good Pig
Meg Daley Olme, Writer and producer, author of Made for Each Other: The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond
Lori Pye, President, Viridis Graduate Institute, Institute of Ecopsychology and Environmental Humanities
Susan Richardson, Writer, poet, author of Skindancing, editor of Zoomorphic magazine
Bernard Rollin, University Distinguished Professor, Professor of Philosophy, Professor of Animal Sciences, University Bioethicist, Colorado State University, author of The Unheeded Cry: Animal Consciousness, Animal Pain and Scientific Change
Mark Rowlands, Professor of Philosophy, University of Miami, author of The Philosopher and the Wolf, editor of the European Encyclopaedia of Animal Ethics
Richard D. Ryder, Psychologist, philosopher, former Chairman of the RSPCA Council, coiner of the term ‘speciesism’
Carl Safina, Inaugural holder of the Endowed Chair for Nature and Humanity, Stony Brook University, Founding President of the Safina Center, author of Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel
Kenneth Shapiro, President of the Board and co-founder of Animals and Society Institute, Founder and editor of Society and Animals: Journal of Human-Animal Studies
Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University, Laureate Professor in the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, University of Melbourne, author of Animal Liberation
Con Slobodchikoff, Professor Emeritus, Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University, Director of the Animal Language Institute
Dominic Walker, Bishop, President of the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals, Honorary Vice-President of the RSPCA
Esther Woolfson, Writer, author of Corvus – A Life With Birds and Field Notes From a Hidden City
Affirm the Charter for Animal Compassion.
Your signature is an affirmation of the principles outlined in the Charter. It signals your support for a more compassionate world.
There is no cost involved. Signatories will be kept up to date with the Charter as it works to promote the writers, researchers and artists whose work engenders inter-species empathy.