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date: 23 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Should people include beef in their diet? This chapter argues that the answer is “no” by reviewing what is known and not known about the presence in cattle of three psychological traits: pain, desire, and self-consciousness. On the basis of behavioral and neuroanatomical evidence, the chapter argues that cattle are sentient beings who have things they want to do in the proximal future, but they are not self-conscious. The piece rebuts three important objections: that cattle have injury information but not pain; that cattle have goal-directed behavior but not desire; and that the absence of evidence for bovine self-consciousness should not be taken as evidence that cattle lack self-consciousness. In sum, what is known about cattle cognition shifts the moral burden of proof on to the beef eaters.

Keywords: pain, desire, self-consciousness, bovine psychology, behavioral evidence, neuroanatomical evidence, cattle, moral burden of proof, beef eaters

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