Edited by Anna Grear and Evadne Grant
Chapter 8: Schopenhauer’s Mitleid, environmental outrage and human rights
Suffering that results from environmental exposures often evokes a sense of moral outrage. In this paper, two complementary sources of grounding for that outrage are explored: Arthur Schopenhauer’s close analysis of compassion, grounded in the metaphysical identity of all being, provides explanatory grounding for moral outrage as well as for the long-recognized importance of personal narratives in human rights work. Secondly, the broadly endorsed human rights tradition provides an additional confirmatory, more public, level of validation for moral outrage. Human rights norms confirm what the experience of compassion first intuited. Three practical implications for environmental activism follow: (1) the importance of personal narratives detailing the direct impacts that environmental assaults have caused; (2) the practical value of formal, detailed Human Rights Impact Assessments specified to a given situation; and (3) the value of community-led public inquiries and tribunals, such as the 2006 People’s Inquiry in New Zealand and the 2011 Permanent People’s Tribunal in India. Key words Schopenhauer; environment; human rights; assessments; outrage; ethics; compassion; personal narratives; inquiries; tribunals
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