Can empathy play a role in the pursuit of justice, and do either justice or empathy help in thinking about ethics beyond the human? Wesleyan philosopher Lori Gruen explores these two questions in her March 10, 2016 lecture titled “Justice and Empathy Beyond the Human” as the 2016 Robert D. Clark Lecturer in the Humanities. In her talk, Gruen argues that empathy is central to justice, and that it should play a central role in our ethical thinking and in our dealings with all sorts of different others, including other animals.
Gruen’s work lies at the intersection of ethical theory and practice, with a particular focus on issues that impact those often overlooked in traditional ethical investigations, e.g. women, people of color, and non-human animals. She has published extensively on topics in animal ethics, ecofeminism, and practical ethics more broadly, and is currently thinking about intersections of race, gender, and species and, as always, about chimpanzees.
She has documented the history of The First 100 chimpanzees in research in the US Lori Gruen book (first100chimps.wesleyan.edu) and has an evolving website that documents the journey to sanctuary of the remaining chimpanzees in research labs, The Last 1000 (last1000chimps.com). She also has been teaching philosophy in a maximum security men’s prison for the past six years.
Lori Gruen is the William Griffin Professor of Philosophy at Wesleyan University, where she also chairs the Philosophy Department and coordinates Wesleyan Animal Studies. In addition, she is Professor of Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Environmental Studies at Wesleyan. She is the author and editor of 9 books, as well as dozens of articles and book chapters. Her most recent book is Entangled Empathy: An Alternative Ethics for our Relationships with Other Animals (2015).