CFA: The Value of Sentience: Empathy, Vulnerability and Recognition
                                                                            A Conference on Animal Ethics

Dates: 7-9 March 2018
Location: Ardmore House, University College Dublin, Ireland

“Sentience”, defined as a capacity to feel pleasure and pain, has been proposed as a key criterion for moral consideration towards nonhuman animals and has been enshrined in European Law through article 13 of title II of the Lisbon Treaty which gives specific recognition that (at least some) animals are sentient. The connections between sentience and an ethical attitude towards animals continue to be the subject of a great deal of philosophical and legal debate.  

This conference aims to contribute to this debate by investigating, in a novel way, the connections between sentience and key moral attitudes such as feelings of empathy towards and the recognition of the vulnerability of sentient beings. 
Empathy has been discussed widely across a variety of disciplines but recently its role in ethics, including animal ethics, has come under increased scrutiny. Vulnerability has been explored mainly within the context of feminist philosophy, although attempts have been made to place the shared vulnerability of humans and nonhumans at the core of ethical thought. While interesting approaches to recognition have been offered, these tend to exclude other animals as they are centred on the notion of personhood. Indeed, not enough attention has been directed to the fact that a sentient being may warrant recognition in virtue of a specific range of vulnerabilities. The aim of the conference is therefore to explore the connections between sentience and these three notions within animal ethics.

We welcome proposals from a range of disciplines including philosophy, critical animal studies, social science, cognitive science, and ethology. Interdisciplinary papers are encouraged as well as proposals for co-presentations. 
Contributors may consider, but not strictly limit themselves to, the following themes:
- towards a theory of recognition which has sentience and vulnerability (rather than personhood) at its core;
- the role of empathy in recognising the moral status of sentient beings;
- strategies for fostering empathy towards vulnerable others (including representation of other animals in art, literature, non-fiction, and social media);
- loving and valuing as ways to narrow the gap between discourses that talk about vulnerability and discourses that focus upon rights;
- recognition of vulnerability in the context of animal disability;
- the range of vulnerabilities specific to sentient beings in their individual and species-specific embodiment;
- how do different types of relations with vulnerable nonhuman others affect forms of recognition?
- recognition of ‘alien’ sensitivities: from fish to octopi to other invertebrates;
- right-based vs care-based ethics as a recognition of sentience. 

Please submit abstracts of 500 words (in Word document format) by January 10, 2018. Abstracts should be prepared for blind review (together with a separate cover sheet, which includes the author’s name and contact details) and emailed to: 

A small amount of bursaries will be available for unwaged participants. 

Select contributions to the conference will be submitted for publication in a dedicated special issue of the Journal of Applied Philosophy.

Confirmed speakers include: Dr Elisa Aaltola (University of Eastern Finland), Dr Ben Bramble (TCD), Prof. Alice Crary (New School for Social Research), Prof. Lori Gruen (Wesleyan University), Dr Angela Martin (University of Fribourg), Prof. Eduardo Mendieta (Penn State University), Dr Tony Milligan (KCL), Prof. Clare Palmer (Texas A&M University), Dr Danielle Petherbridge (UCD).

The conference is generously supported by: 
UCD Foundation
Society for Applied Philosophy
Mind Association;
UCD School of Philosophy
UCD Centre for Ethics in Public Life

For enquiries, please contact the organiser, Patrizia Setola at