By Kurt Gray
Originally posted November 17, 2015
Here is an excerpt:
Our research reveals that whether something can think or feel is mostly a matter of perception, which can lead to bizarre reversals. Objectively speaking, humans are smarter than cats, and yet people treat their pets like people and the homeless like objects. Objectively speaking, pigs are smarter than baby seals, but people will scream about seal clubbing while eating a BLT.
That minds are perceived spells trouble for political harmony. When people see minds differently in chickens, fetuses, and enemy combatants, it leads to conflicts about vegetarianism, abortion, and torture. Despite facilitating these debates, mind perception can make our moral opponents seem more humans and less monstrous. With abortion, both liberals and conservatives agree that killing babies is immoral, and disagree only about whether a fetus is a baby or a mass of mindless cells.
The entire article is here.