Animal Cognition and Human Values

Philosophy of Science 85 (5):1026-1037 (2018)
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Abstract

Animal welfare scientists face an acute version of the problem of inductive risk, since they must choose whether to affirm attributions of mental states to animals in advisory contexts, knowing their decisions hold consequences for animal welfare. In such contexts, the burden of proof should be sensitive to the consequences of error, but a framework for setting appropriate burdens of proof is lacking. Through reflection on two cases—pain and cognitive enrichment—I arrive at a tentative framework based on the principle of expected welfare maximization. I then discuss the limitations of this framework and the questions it leaves open.

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Jonathan Birch
London School of Economics

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