Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

Animal Thoughts on Factory Farms: Michael Leahy, Language and Awareness of Death by Rebekah Humprheys

Animal Thoughts on Factory Farms: Michael Leahy, Language and Awareness of Death

Rebekah Humphreys

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.

Please click this link to view and read the .pdf: Animal Thoughts on Factory Farms: Michael Leahy, Language and Aware...

The index of ARZone's online library of academic papers is here

Views: 201

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

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. 

Reply to Discussion



  • Add Videos
  • View All

ARZone Podcasts!

Please visit this webpage to subscribe to ARZone podcasts using iTunes


Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Follow ARZone!

Please follow ARZone on:




A place for animal advocates to gather and discuss issues, exchange ideas, and share information.

Creative Commons License
Animal Rights Zone (ARZone) by ARZone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

Animal Rights Zone (ARZone) Disclaimer

Animal Rights Zone (ARZone) is an animal rights site. As such, it is the position of ARZone that it is only by ending completely the use of other animal as things can we fulfill our moral obligations to them.

Please read the full site disclosure here.

Animal Rights Zone (ARZone) Mission Statement

Animal Rights Zone (ARZone) exists to help educate vegans and non-vegans alike about the obligations human beings have toward all other animals.

Please read the full mission statement here.





© 2021   Created by Animal Rights Zone.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service