Mindreading and Moral Significance in Nonhuman Animals

José Luis Bermúdez

in The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780195371963
Published online May 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Mindreading and Moral Significance in Nonhuman Animals

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  • Moral Philosophy
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This article starts with the current state of the discussions about the moral significance of nonhuman animals and the basic capacities that have been stressed in the leading theories: sentience, basic forms of consciousness, animals' capacity for making long- or short-range plans, self-awareness, and the like. The article is almost entirely centered on mindreading as a cognitive ability that intersects with the basic capacities put forward in theories of moral status. One central argument is that propositional attitude mindreading is language-dependent, because it involves metarepresentation. After reviewing experimental findings on mindreading in primates, the article tries to show that the data can be interpreted without assuming that the mindreaders are engaged in propositional attitude mindreading.

Keywords: sentience; nonhuman animals; consciousness; mindreading; cognitive ability; moral status; primates

Article.  15933 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science

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