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Type of publication: Original Article in Series
Type of document: Full Paper

Year: 2015

Authors: Benz-Schwarzburg, J; Nawroth, C

Title: Know your pork - or better don't: debating animal minds in the context of the meat paradox.

Source: 12th Congress of the European Society for Agricultural and Food Ethics, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Romania, May 28-30, 2015. IN: Dumitras, DE [Hrsg.]: Know your food: Food Ethics and Innovation. Wageningen, Wageningen Academic Press, pp. 235-240. ISBN: 978-90-8686-264-1.

Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Benz-Schwarzburg Judith

Vetmed Research Units
Messerli Research Institute, Ethics and Human-Animal Studies

Ethologists and philosophers increasingly understand (some) animals as individuals with complex socio-cognitive abilities. However, strong animal rights claims linked to such abilities have been pushed for great apes and dolphins, but not yet for any farm animal species. We hypothesize that the reason for this is not because farm animals lack morally relevant abilities but because granting them extended rights seems a profound step considering the markets involved. Pigs are used intensively for consumption which renders them an interesting case for investigating the interface between mind attribution, moral status and practical treatment of animals. Here, research results from comparative cognition are being discussed in the light of ethical, psychological and sociological theories: Do pigs have complex sociocognitive abilities? To which debates on animal mind and moral status do such abilities link? Does the knowledge of such abilities change our perception and treatment of animals? What prevents us from translating ethical claims into practice? The case of pigs reveals that the acknowledgment or withdrawal of mind and moral status takes place within psychological and sociological frameworks constituting the so-called meat paradox, where the denial of mind and moral status allows, maintains or even fosters processes like an objectification or de-individualisation of animals. It seems that we do not want to get to know animals as ‘cognitive relatives’ – at least as long as they are considered food animals.

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