How Prejudice Affects the Study of Animal Minds
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Humans share the planet with many wonderfully diverse animal species and human-animal interactions are part of our daily lives. An important part of understanding how humans do and should interact with other animals is understanding how humans think about other animals. In this thesis, I argue that how humans think about the minds of other animals is marked by prejudice and that this prejudice fosters epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical problems related to study of, the conception of, and the conclusions we draw about animal minds. I begin by examining conceptions and representations of animals in popular culture and arguing that they exhibit and foster a problematic prejudice, what I call “animal prejudice.” I then examine how this prejudice affects the general study of animal minds and argue that it leads to epistemological problems that interfere with the aims of science. After reviewing the effects of animal prejudice on the study of animal minds generally, I more closely examine the effects of animal prejudice on the scientific study of animal problem solving, learning, tool use, language, emotion, and empathy. In addition to identifying areas where animal prejudice is negatively affecting the study of animal minds, I also offer suggestions for avoiding and mitigating these effects. To conclude, I review the ethical implications of animal prejudice and its effects on the study of animal minds. Together, these chapters offer an important philosophical contribution to the understanding of animal minds and provide a basis for further discussion on how humans should interact with other animals.
Cite this work
Ashley Keefner (2017). How Prejudice Affects the Study of Animal Minds. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/12192