Access to the full content is only available to members of institutions that have purchased access. If you belong to such an institution, please log in or find out more about how to order.




DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L100-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 25, 2024, from

Article Summary

Although sometimes identified with pain, suffering is better understood as a highly unpleasant emotional state associated with considerable pain or distress. Whether and how much one suffers can vary in accordance with any meaning attached to the associated pain or distress, or with expectations regarding the future. Because suffering can be affected by thoughts of meaning or of the future, some have focused on this dimension of suffering and asserted that only humans can suffer. But there is a very strong empirical case that many nonhuman animals suffer. The fact of suffering provokes moral concern, especially when suffering is caused unnecessarily, and raises ethical questions, mainly regarding the nature and extent of our obligations to those who suffer. Suffering is also an important source of personal or religious meaning in many people’s lives.

Citing this article:
DeGrazia, David. Suffering, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L100-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

Related Searches


Related Articles