Categorical Desires and the Badness of Animal Death

Journal of Value Inquiry 52 (1):97-111 (2018)

Authors
Bob Fischer
Texas State University
Matt Bower
Texas State University
Abstract
One way to defend humane animal agriculture is to insist that the deaths of animals aren’t bad for them. Christopher Belshaw has argued for this position in the most detail, maintaining that death is only bad when it frustrates categorical desires, which he thinks animals lack. We are prepared to grant his account of the badness of death, but we are skeptical of the claim that animals don’t have categorical desires. We contend that Belshaw’s argument against the badness of animal death relies on overly simplistic thought experiments and isn’t sufficiently careful in how it attributes mental states to animals. We present some cases of animal behavior from recent work on animal cognition that are most plausibly understood as spurred by categorical desires and we show how an independently plausible account of mental content—Ruth Millikan’s teleosemantics—supports our attribution of categorical desires in those cases. We end by arguing that even if you’re wary of our reliance on teleosemantics, you should still accept it due to considerations about moral risk.
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DOI 10.1007/s10790-017-9604-y
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References found in this work BETA

Running Risks Morally.Brian Weatherson - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (1):141-163.
Thoughts Without Laws: Cognitive Science with Content.Ruth Garrett Millikan - 1986 - Philosophical Review 95 (January):47-80.
Philosophical Naturalism.David Papineau - 1997 - Philosophical Quarterly 47 (189):523-526.

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