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AbstractAnimal welfare scientists face an acute version of the problem of inductive risk, since they must choose whether or not to affirm attributions of mental states to animals in advisory contexts, knowing that their decisions hold significant consequences for animal welfare. In such contexts, the burden of proof should be sensitive to the moral consequences of error, but a framework for setting appropriate burdens of proof is lacking. Through reflection on two cases—the case of pain, and the case of cognitive enrichment—I arrive at a tentative general framework based on the principle of expected welfare maximization. I then discuss the limitations of this framework and the important questions it leaves open.
Birch, Jonathan (2017) Animal Cognition and Human Values. [Preprint]