Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism
Animal Thoughts on Factory Farms: Michael Leahy, Language and Awareness of Death
Abstract: The idea that language is necessary for thought and emotion is a dominant one in philosophy. Animals have taken the brunt of this idea, since it is widely held that language is exclusively human. Michael Leahy (1991) makes a case against the moral standing of factory-farmed animals based on such ideas. His approach is Wittgensteinian: understanding is a thought process that requires language, which animals do not possess. But he goes further than this and argues that certain factory farming methods do not cause certain sufferings to the animals used, since animals lack full awareness of their circumstances. In particular he argues that animals do not experience certain sufferings at the slaughterhouse since, lacking language, they are unaware of their fate (1991). Through an analysis of Leahy’s claims this paper aims to explore and challenge both the idea that thought and emotion require language and that only humans possess language.
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Hmm...I'm sorry, but I just couldn't stomach reading that entire article. It reminds me too much of the adage, "Opinions are like assholes. Everybody's got one." Although animals don't speak English...or French or German or Russian....does not mean they have no form of "language". How absurd!! Of COURSE they do. They communicate with one another regularly!! And, they certainly DO know the difference between being treated well, and standing in line to be slaughtered!! (As well as the emotional behavior that expresses these understandings.) I do not believe that thought and emotion require language as humans understand language. There are many ways of communicating that humans know nothing about.