Kognitiv dissonans– vad ligger till grund för att behandla djur olika?

University essay from SLU/Dept. of Animal Environment and Health

Abstract: Cognitive dissonance is a psychological concept which describes a feeling of discomfort thatcan occur when your actions differ from your feeling of what is right to do. This essay aimsto immerse in this subject due to my interest in how this phenomenon arises. The concept ofcognitive dissonance was first introduced to me when reading the book Why we love dogs, eat pigs and wear cows by psychologist Melanie Joy. To review what makes us value animals differently, I have summarized literature on the subject. Ethical theories have been described to provide examples of different arguments that can affect how we value and ought to treat animals. The normative ethical theories that are brought up in this essay are utilitarianism, animal rights ethics as well as relational ethics. These have been selected due to their relevance for this subject. Utilitarianism states the total well-being as most important, which can mean that the life ofone individual can be sacrificed for the gain of others, to maximize the total sum of wellbeing. Animal rights ethics view the life and well-being of every individual as equal, in the sense that humans should not be valued higher than other species. Relational ethics refer tothe relation between the human and the animal, for example between the farmer and the pig, or between the dog owner and the dog. In the farmer-livestock relation, the production itselfis an obvious part. The relationship between humans and their pets are, however, a lovingrelationship where the animal will be invited into the home and may take the role as a familymember. These ethical theories provide a background to understand how differently we view animalsof varying species. The purpose of this essay is to investigate what makes us value animals differently by compiling psychological and biological literature. This essay will discuss the animal’s mental abilities, how categorization affects how we view animals – and vice versa -and why we see certain species as food, and others as companions. The fact that we traditionally have, and still view some animals as food has an influence onhow we value them, as we often do not question the categorization of them. The literatureaddresses the difficulties in changing these values despite the scientific basis that farmed animals have the ability to feel, just like our companion animals.

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