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Recently, Agrarmarkt Austria (the main body of Austrian agribusiness marketing), pulled back an almost launched project after massive critique from the public. They had cooperated with a children’s book author to do a picture book on meat production. The book was accused of unashamedly whitewashing the killing of animals and using the genre to influence children’s moral intuitions. Picture books indeed come with an ageless tradition of conveying ethical messages. But it has been scarcely addressed so far how children make sense of pictures and narratives or by what processes they learn to respond to them. This is especially true with regard to normative messages concerned with nature in general and animals in specific. By reference to the AMA book as a case example I will identify ethically relevant elements of pictures and narrative. Their discussion will be set against the background of current empirical studies on anthropomorphism and anthropocentrism in picture books. The analysis will reveal the animal ethics potential of picture books which are ‘usually more complicated and occasionally more potent than they seem at first glance’.

In: Professionals in food chains
Advisory Editor:
In Cognitive Kin, Moral Strangers?, Judith Benz-Schwarzburg reveals the scope and relevance of cognitive kinship between humans and non-human animals. She presents a wide range of empirical studies on culture, language and theory of mind in animals and then leads us to ask why such complex socio-cognitive abilities in animals matter. Her focus is on ethical theory as well as on the practical ways in which we use animals. Are great apes maybe better described as non-human persons? Should we really use dolphins as entertainers or therapists? Benz-Schwarzburg demonstrates how much we know already about animals’ capabilities and needs and how this knowledge should inform the ways in which we treat animals in captivity and in the wild.
In: Cognitive Kin, Moral Strangers? Linking Animal Cognition, Animal Ethics & Animal Welfare
In: Cognitive Kin, Moral Strangers? Linking Animal Cognition, Animal Ethics & Animal Welfare