The Journal of Ethics

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 299–317

Animal Minds, Cognitive Ethology, and Ethics

Article

Abstract

Our goal in this paper is to provide enough of an account of the origins of cognitive ethology and the controversy surrounding it to help ethicists to gauge for themselves how to balance skepticism and credulity about animal minds when communicating with scientists. We believe that ethicists’ arguments would benefit from better understanding of the historical roots of ongoing controversies. It is not appropriate to treat some widely reported results in animal cognition as if their interpretations are a matter of scientific consensus. It is especially important to understand why loose references to “cognitive ethology” by philosophers can signal ignorance of the field to scientists who are more deeply immersed in the relevant literature. Understanding the variety of approaches to cognitive phenomena in animals is essential if such capacities are to form the foundation of scientifically-informed ethical reasoning about animals.

Keywords

animal cognition consciousness ethics science 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History and Philosophy of ScienceIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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