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Humphreys. Animal Thoughts on Factory Farms: Michael Leahy, Language and Awareness of Death
2008, Between the Species 13 (8): 1-16
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Rebekah Humphreys

Abstract: The idea that language is necessary for thought and emotion is a dominant one in philosophy. Animals have taken the brunt of this idea, since it is widely held that language is exclusively human. Michael Leahy makes a case against the moral standing of factory-farmed animals based on such ideas. His approach is Wittgensteinian: understanding is a thought process that requires language, which animals do not possess. But he goes further than this and argues that certain factory farming methods do not cause certain sufferings to the animals used, since animals lack full awareness of their circumstances. In particular he argues that animals do not experience certain sufferings at the slaughterhouse since, lacking language, they are unaware of their fate . Through an analysis of Leahy’s claims this paper aims to explore and challenge both the idea that thought and emotion require language and that only humans possess language

Comment: Good for teaching issues in animal ethics as they relate to the cognitive capacities of animals.

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