Abstract

Were autonomy to ground moral duties, it would be quite significant for nonhuman animals to qualify as autonomous. We argue that recent scientific developments suggest that pigs may be minimally autonomous. We argue that scientific studies suggest pigs are self-conscious, have intentionality, and engage in practical reasoning over their means and ends. Given this evidence, pig autonomy cannot be ruled out, which supports a moral presumption in favor of treating pigs as if they were minimally autonomous. Our conclusion is necessarily limited: we neither conclusively prove that any aspect of autonomy applies, nor claim that these aspects would be sufficient to establish pig autonomy. Yet, the moral result—that we ought to act as if pigs might be autonomous—follows because the presumption is necessary to avoid grave moral wrongs, such as slaughtering autonomous beings for culinary pleasure.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-5306
Print ISSN
1085-6633
Pages
pp. 1-18
Launched on MUSE
2017-05-30
Open Access
No
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