Day 45 – Q 1. Why is empathy a much desirable attribute for a humane society? Explain. 

  • IASbaba
  • July 31, 2020
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Ethics Theory, GS 4, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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1. Why is empathy a much desirable attribute for a humane society? Explain. 
क्यों सहानुभूति एक मानवीय समाज के लिए एक बहुत वांछनीय विशेषता है? समझाएं।

Demand of the question:

It expects students to present in detail the importance of empathy as a much desirable attribute for humane society.


Empathetic humane society involves, first, seeing animals situation from its perspective, and, second, sharing the emotions, including, if any, distress. A humane society is a group that aims to stop animal suffering due to cruelty or other reasons. 


Much desirable attribute for a humane society:

  • Empathetic people care about others and show interest in and concern for them. e.g. Many  people understand the situation when an animal goes through pain of labour.
  • Empathy ensures  helping behaviours that come from within, rather than being forced, so that people behave in a more compassionate manner. e.g. the way animals are treated by the family strongly influences whether or not children learn to treat other living beings with kindness and respect.
  • Affective empathy for animals involves the ability to understand animals emotions and respond appropriately. For instance, when a person comes back home, the dog or the cat starts to make some familiar sounds to catch the attention of person, and person responds accordingly.
  • Somatic empathy involves having a sort of physical reaction in response to what someone else is experiencing. People sometimes physically experience what an animal  is feeling. When we see someone else feeling embarrassed, for example, we might start to blush or have an upset stomach.
  • Cognitive empathy involves being able to understand animals mental state and what they might be thinking in response to the situation. e.g. when  death of a person happens in family, the pet in the house also understands the situation.
  • Empathy allows people to build social connections with others. e.g. Many local residents and NGO’s who fed street dogs regularly, develop bonds with those animals.
  • Empathizing with others helps us learn to regulate our own emotions. Emotional regulation is important in that it allows us to manage what we are feeling, even in times of great stress, without becoming overwhelmed. e.g. Children playing with Animals.

A few reasons why people sometimes lack empathy for animals:

  • They fall victim to cognitive biases. e.g. In an stance in Mumbai, a person’s mind was imbibed with belief that a cat  always creates a mess in the kitchen, that person literally tortured a cat with screwdriver.
  • People tend to dehumanize victims. e.g. Sexual assaults on the animals, beaten to death animals.

Steps to imbibe empathy for animals in people:

  • Making it a part of curriculum so that students can develop a perspective to empathise with animals 
  • For example, Pet Empathy Program of Winnipeg Humane Society tries to imbibe pet empathy  with the goal of fostering a better understanding of empathy towards animals and people. 
  • Encouraging families to have pets, so that children can grow up with pets, in turn it will imbibe empathy in them.


Empathy, is the act of putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes. It occurs when we are truly trying to understand or experience someone else’s emotions, as if they are our own. Hence, when a person understands what an animal goes through or thinks  and acts accordingly  then it becomes a much desirable attribute for a humane society.

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