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Moral Disengagement and Support for Nonhuman Animal Farming

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Nonhuman animal farming, by its fundamental nature, involves a greater or lesser degree of ill treatment and oppression. Definitions of abuse or cruelty in relation to nonhumans, however, are inconsistent and ambiguous. People support nonhuman farming by purchasing its products, but the majority of people do not themselves mistreat nonhumans. How can this incongruity be explained? Any account is likely to be complex, but work in experimental psychology has identified a number of conditions that can contribute toward individuals becoming morally disengaged from abusive acts. This paper shows that a number of these conditions are embedded in the nonhuman animal farming industry, thus providing some insight into why consumers may be disconnected from the mass abuse carried out by an industry they support. Recognizing this process can help advocates for nonhumans take steps to counter this disengagement and so allow consumers to examine their ethical choices more clearly.

Affiliations: 1: University of Fort Hare South Africa, Email:


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