Eeek! How fears shape our ethical relationships with animal and human others

Monica List photo

The other is a being, human or animal, who has the power to place inescapable ethical demands on us as social beings. To be other also means to be different in fundamental ways; these differences are precisely what makes others unknowable, something that can never be fully grasped. Such differences also foster fears toward others that are not always recognizable; furthermore, admitting fears to ourselves, especially when they relate to human others, may prove to be an especially difficult task. The difficulty of bridging the chasm between ourselves and others increases in special ethical encounters, including for instance, doctor-patient relationships. Exploring and understanding the fear dynamic through the lens of our fear of animal others may be a useful tool in recognizing and addressing our fears of human others, as a relevant component of our ethical relationships.
Monica List, DVM, MA
PhD Candidate in the Department of Philosophy at Michigan State University
Recorded October 24, 2012


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