Please click THIS LINK to access the paper.

The attached white paper was published by the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy. It is written by Lori Marino and Michael Mountain. Lori is the Founder and Executive Director of The Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy and of the Whale Sanctuary Project. Michael is the former President and Co-Founder of Best Friends Animal Society and Co-Founder of the Whale Sanctuary Project.

The focus of this paper is to explore how cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker’s claim that human behavior is largely motivated by fear of death may explain important aspects of our relationship with nonhuman animals. Terror Management Theory (TMT) suggests that when we humans are reminded of our personal mortality, we tend to deny our biological identity or creatureliness and distance ourselves from the other animals, since they remind us of our own mortal nature. In support of this assertion, an abundance of peer-reviewed experimental literature shows that reminders of our own mortality create a strong psychological need to proclaim that “I am not an animal.”
We contend that the denial of death is an important factor in driving how and why our relationships with other animals are fundamentally exploitive and harmful. Even though today there are more animal advocacy and protection organizations than ever, the situation for nonhuman animals continues to deteriorate (e.g., more factory farming, mass extinction of wildlife species, and ocean life under severe stress). Having reviewed the most up-to-date experimental literature, we look back at how some notable writers and philosophers throughout human history have approached the issue of our relationship to our fellow animals. And finally, we look ahead to how we might address the question that Becker was never able to answer: How can we deal with the existential anxiety that is engendered by the awareness of our own mortality and that is the cause of so much harm to our fellow animals? Please click THIS LINK to access the paper.