Science, Social Critique, And The Need For Ethics, 2019 Union College
Science, Social Critique, And The Need For Ethics, Peter Woodford, Alecia Carter
Marino & Merskin’s target article on the cognitive and psychological capacities of sheep commendably aims to use science to critique human practice. However, the article fails to make specific recommendations about how human-sheep relations should change going forward. We also underscore two problematic assumptions highlighted by other commentators: (1) that cognitive complexity is important to the case for the moral status of non-human animals and (2) that the way humans use and treat animals is caused by our conception of animals’ capacities. Scientists should engage more with philosophy and ethical theory to articulate the implications of animal capacities for human ...
What Is In An Octopus's Mind?, 2019 Psychology, University of Lethbridge
What Is In An Octopus's Mind?, Jennifer Mather
It is difficult to imagine what an animal as different from us as the octopus ‘thinks’, but we can make some progress. In the Umwelt or perceptual world of an octopus, what the lateralized monocular eyes perceive is not color but the plane of polarization of light. Information is processed by a bilateral brain but manipulation is done by a radially symmetrical set of eight arms. Octopuses do not self-monitor by vision. Their skin pattern system, used for excellent camouflage, is open loop. The output of the motor system of the eight arms is organized at several levels — brain, intrabrachial ...
Octopus Umwelt Or Umwelten?, 2019 University of Central Florida
Octopus Umwelt Or Umwelten?, Luis H. Favela
Even if its intelligent behaviors are the product of decentralized control systems, Mather argues that the octopus has an “Umwelt,” and, thus, a mind. I argue that Umwelt does not provide a conceptual basis for understanding the octopus as having a mind. First, Umwelt does not refer only to an organism’s perceptual abilities. Second, in providing evidence for decentralized control systems that underlie intelligent behaviors, Mather makes a case against an octopus Umwelt. Instead, the octopus is more akin to a collection of systems, or Umwelten, than a single system with an Umwelt.
A Community Of Minds, 2019 Florida International University
A Community Of Minds, Bennett L. Schwartz
Mather (2019) provides an excellent overview of the literature on octopus perception, cognition, memory, and behavior. Anyone interested in cephalopod cognition and brain organization will find her target article informative and interesting. In this commentary, I challenge the idea that an individual organism must have an individual mind. Given the structure of the octopus brain and their complex behavior, one must consider the possibility that an octopus is a community of minds rather than a single mind.
Cephalopod Molluscs, Causal Models, And Curious Minds, 2019 Monash University
Cephalopod Molluscs, Causal Models, And Curious Minds, Andrew W. Corcoran
Mather (2019) presents a compelling case in favour of octopus mind. Surveying an impressive array of empirical literature, she identifies the creature’s playful, inquisitive behaviour as emblematic of a distinctively mental form of agency. I offer an alternative perspective in which curiosity and play are construed as constitutive processes in the emergence of the (predictive) mind.
The Octopus Mind And The Argument Against Farming It, 2019 New York University
The Octopus Mind And The Argument Against Farming It, Jennifer Jacquet, Becca Franks, Peter Godfrey-Smith
Mather is convincing about octopuses having ‘a controlling mind, motivated to gather information,’ but stops short of asking what having that mind means for octopus moral standing. One consequence of understanding the octopus mind should be a refusal to subject octopuses to mass production. Octopus farming is in an experimental phase and supported by various countries. We argue that it is unethical because of concerns about animal welfare as well as environmental impacts.
Octopus Intelligence: The Importance Of Being Agnostic, 2019 University of Cambridge, UK
Octopus Intelligence: The Importance Of Being Agnostic, Piero Amodio
Mather’s (2019) provocative claim that octopuses have a mind hinges on the inference that their striking behavioural flexibility is evidence of “complex” cognitive abilities. I discuss alternative explanations — not to deny the possibility of complexity but to point out that current evidence does not allow us to draw firm conclusions. Only an agnostic approach will lead to the systematic investigation of octopus behaviour and ultimately, greater insights into the cognitive capacities of these fascinating creatures.
What We Don't Know About Cephalopods And How To Define It, 2019 University of Lincoln, UK
What We Don't Know About Cephalopods And How To Define It, Catia Correia Caeiro
Despite the reputation of octopuses as intelligent animals, their cognitive abilities seem to be mostly unknown. This should be the starting point of a long process of scientific enquiry about these taxa, which must include discussions on operational definitions first and foremost. Discussing octopus mind might prove fruitless without more basic concepts. Some approaches are suggested here.
Octopus Sentience: Three Criteria, 2019 U.Q.A.M.
Octopus Sentience: Three Criteria, Alix Noël-Guéry
The first question to ask is whether octopuses are sentient, so that, if so, they can be protected. Three consensual criteria to evaluate animal sentience can be applied to the octopus. Octopuses meet all three of them.
Is Knowing Enough To Change Human Attitudes And Actions?, 2019 Hunter College, CUNY
Is Knowing Enough To Change Human Attitudes And Actions?, Liv Baker
Marino & Merskin present evidence on key aspects of cognition, such as theory of mind, learning, emotional valence, and sociality, to make a convincing argument that sheep are due consideration as individual sentient beings. With this information, what will it take to produce a real, meaningful shift in our attitudes and actions towards other animals, including a species as disadvantaged as sheep? What else do we need to know?
Reflections On Sheep Rearing, 2019 Compassion in World Farming, UK
Reflections On Sheep Rearing, Joyce D'Silva
Sheep rearing has an incredibly long history. Sometimes this alone can give credibility and status to a human practice. In the twenty-first century, it may be time to reassess our treatment of sheep and their place in nature. “Just because we’ve always done it” no longer has validity by itself. There are many other human practices which used to be accepted widely in certain societies and which we now may find abhorrent. With sheep intelligence now rightly regarded as an acceptable area of research within the academic community, it is a good time to reflect on our treatment of ...
Casting A Sheep’S Eye On Science, 2019 San Francisco State University
Casting A Sheep’S Eye On Science, David M. Peña-Guzmán
Marino & Merskin review evidence that sheep are not just passive and reactive creatures. They have personalities that vary from individual to individual and endure over time. It follows that we must rethink what it means to study them scientifically.
Far More To Sheep Than Meets The Casual Eye, 2019 Colorado State University
Far More To Sheep Than Meets The Casual Eye, Bernard Rollin
Marino & Merskin’s survey of the cognitive and social capacities of sheep is an eye-opener about the individuality and emotionality of this most maligned of all farm animals. My own eyes had already been opened by an adopted orphaned lamb, so much more like a dog as a companion animal than the mindless robot I had been conditioned to expect. I am morally certain that Marino & Merskin’s survey will have a similar effect on readers open to changing their minds.
Positive Sentience Is Underrated, 2019 Association for Respectful Cohabitation
Positive Sentience Is Underrated, Teya Brooks Pribac
My commentary focuses on two aspects of ovine (well-)being considered in the review: the developmental context and (un)fulfilled potentialities.
Sheeple? The Need For More Research On Sheep Cognition, 2019 University of Otago
Sheeple? The Need For More Research On Sheep Cognition, Michael Colombo, Damian Scarf
Marino & Merskin (2019) provide a comprehensive review of the cognitive abilities of sheep. If research with other animals is any guide, there may be justification for the view that the abilities of sheep have been underestimated, and their review will likely stimulate more research into sheep cognition.
Using Sheep Psychology To Guide Sheep Policy, 2019 California Institute of Technology
Using Sheep Psychology To Guide Sheep Policy, Ralph Adolphs
Marino & Merskin’s valuable review of the literature on sheep cognition shows how entrenched common views of these animals’ mental lives are disputed by the research literature. Yet the evidence they muster faces three challenges that their target article does not discuss: (1) the behavioral tasks are strongly anthropocentric; (2) neuroscientific data are absent; and (3) applications are not discussed. I touch on all three of these here.
Why Are Sheep Sheepish? How Perception Affects Animal Stereotyping, 2019 Anderson University - South Carolina
Why Are Sheep Sheepish? How Perception Affects Animal Stereotyping, Robert G. Franklin Jr.
Marino & Merskin present compelling evidence that many stereotypes of sheep are incorrect. One factor that may play an important role in animal stereotyping is the physical appearance of animals, which can directly lead to stereotyping through automatic mental processes. Sheep have a round and babyish appearance that directly evokes judgments of warmth and docility. Depictions of sheep in art, and especially cartoons, reinforce this stereotype.
Sacrificial Lambs, 2019 University of Queensland, Australia
Sacrificial Lambs, Clive Phillips
Sheep evolved from the mouflon as mountain animals, able to escape predation by leaping between rock ledges. Their defense was their agility. Humans brought them to the plains, where the agility was less useful, but their lack of aggression, speed or weaponry against predators made them a prime target to become one of man’s meat providers. A perfect animal in many ways, with extraordinary perceptive powers and some remarkable cognitive skills, they are often treated with complete disregard for their welfare. Yet sheep themselves won’t tell us this, for a sheep that alerted others to its weakness really ...
The Problem Is Not Discourses Of Production; It Is Production Itself, 2019 Florida Int'l University
The Problem Is Not Discourses Of Production; It Is Production Itself, Sean Hermanson
The mistreatment of sheep is not because of fables, stereotypes, unconscious cultural paradigms, our collective consciousness, anthropocentricism, human arrogance, or our drive to dominate. Nonetheless, protections for sheep used in research and agriculture ought to be strengthened.
Time To Vary The Formula, 2019 Animal Studies Repository
Time To Vary The Formula, Jon Mallatt
In the past few years, Marino and her colleagues have written a series of comprehensive and helpful review articles on the cognitive, emotional, and social complexity of pigs, chickens, cows, and most recently, sheep. These articles are similarly structured, even formulaic, which has benefits but also limitations. Here, I point out the limitations in order to suggest new directions and contributions for the authors in the future.