Macquarie University
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How misinformation reinforces the status of animals as food

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posted on 2022-11-02, 03:43 authored by David Anthony Thew

Humans and non-human animals are similar in many morally-relevant ways, however, the moral consideration we extend to humans, contrasted with that of animals, appears inconsistent. This inconsistency is made clear by the use of some animals for human consumption - on average, over 100 billion animals are slaughtered for human consumption every year. The extensive role that misinformation plays in the ongoing mistreatment of animals is under-explored. To remedy this deficit, this thesis examines how misinformation limits the moral consideration of some animals and reinforces their status as food. I begin by making an argument for increased moral consideration of animals, focusing on those animals that are commonly perceived as food in highly industrialized consumer cultures. I then explore misinformation in the context of animals through three lenses: (a) individual consumers, (b) animal-agricultural organizations, and (c) the media. Following this, I investigate the underlying mechanisms that reinforce the status of some animals as food. Consideration is first given to individual psychological mechanisms, before turning attention to the underlying socio-epistemological structures. I examine epistemic concepts of testimony, attention, trust, conformity, and expertise, to explain how and why false and misleading information takes hold, and ultimately reinforces the ongoing mistreatment of non-human animals. 


Table of Contents

1. Introduction -- 2. Background -- 3. Misinformation -- 4. Beneath the surface -- 5. Conclusion -- References


A thesis submitted to Macquarie University for the degree of Master of Research

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Thesis (MRes), Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy, 2021

Department, Centre or School

Department of Philosophy

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Jane Johnson


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:




57 pages