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Abstract

Moral and social welfare issues related to humane treatment of animals confront children and continue to be important societal issues through adulthood. Despite this, children's moral reasoning about animals has been largely ignored. This paper addresses six questions concerning how children reason morally about non-human animals: (1) How do children think about the moral claims of animals? Is there a developmental progression in such reasoning? (2) How does moral reasoning about animals differ from moral reasoning about other life forms-plants and ecological systems? (3) What is the relation, if any, between children's moral reasoning about non-human animals and their moral reasoning about other humans? (4) How do child characteristics and environmental factors contribute to individual differences in children's moral reasoning about animals? (5) What is the relation between moral reasoning about animals and children's behaviors toward animals? (6) What is known about children's kindness toward and nurturing of animals-examples of prosocial reasoning and behavior?

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