Animal mind: Science, philosophy, and ethics [Book Review]

Journal of Ethics 11 (3):253-274 (2007)
Although 20th-century empiricists were agnostic about animal mind and consciousness, this was not the case for their historical ancestors – John Locke, David Hume, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, and, of course, Charles Darwin and George John Romanes. Given the dominance of the Darwinian paradigm of evolutionary continuity, one would not expect belief in animal mind to disappear. That it did demonstrates that standard accounts of how scientific hypotheses are overturned – i.e., by empirical disconfirmation or by exposure of logical flaws – is inadequate. In fact, it can be demonstrated that belief in animal mind disappeared as a result of a change of values, a mechanism also apparent in the Scientific Revolution. The “valuational revolution” responsible for denying animal mind is examined in terms of the rise of Behaviorism and its flawed account of the historical inevitability of denying animal mentation. The effects of the denial of animal consciousness included profound moral implications for the major uses of animals in agriculture and scientific research. The latter is particularly notable for the denial of felt pain in animals. The rise of societal moral concern for animals, however, has driven the “reappropriation of common sense” about animal thought and feeling.
Keywords animal consciousness  animal ethics  animal mind  behaviorism  scientific change
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