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Full-Text Articles in Philosophy

Becoming The Good Shepherds, Eze Paez Jun 2019

Becoming The Good Shepherds, Eze Paez

Animal Sentience

It is very important that we clarify what we owe to nonhuman animals. To that end, we need a better understanding of animal cognition and emotion. Marino & Merskin’s target article is a welcome contribution to this project. Sheep, like most other animals, are sentient beings with interests of their own. It is wrong to discriminate against them based on species-membership or cognitive sophistication. We are morally required not to harm them, and to help them have the best possible lives, just as we would be in the case of human beings with similar interests. We must become the good ...


Humans May Be Unique And Superior — And That Is Irrelevant, Eze Paez Jan 2019

Humans May Be Unique And Superior — And That Is Irrelevant, Eze Paez

Animal Sentience

Chapman & Huffman argue that, because humans are neither unique nor superior to the other animals, cruelty to animals is not justified. Though I agree with their conclusion, I do not think their argument works. Many human beings do have some capacities that animals do not have and are greater in some respects, in the sense of having superior abilities. It is a better argument to deny that any of that is morally relevant. Sentience suffices for moral consideration, and for deriving a moral duty not to harm other animals and to assist them when they are in need.


Across The Great Divide, Debra Merskin Jan 2019

Across The Great Divide, Debra Merskin

Animal Sentience

Chapman & Huffman’s target article calls for a reevaluation of claims of human uniqueness and superiority. It also adds to the literature on how species differences, as Darwin noted, are more of degree than kind. The threats to environmental health and species survival are a consequence of excluding nonhuman animals from moral concern and consideration. The theory of intersectionality should include speciesism in the array of discriminatory practices.


Positive Sentience Is Underrated, Teya Brooks Pribac Jan 2019

Positive Sentience Is Underrated, Teya Brooks Pribac

Animal Sentience

My commentary focuses on two aspects of ovine (well-)being considered in the review: the developmental context and (un)fulfilled potentialities.


Why Cod Don't Like To Sunbathe: Quantity And Quality In The Animal Kingdom, Christoph Jung Jan 2019

Why Cod Don't Like To Sunbathe: Quantity And Quality In The Animal Kingdom, Christoph Jung

Animal Sentience

The difference between a cod and a lizard is not just a quantitative one. The recognition of qualitative differences between species does not imply a moral ranking. Our species’ special abilities to shape the earth mean we have a special responsibility for ensuring a liveable future for all organisms, human and non-human.


Our Brains Make Us Out To Be Unique In Ways We Are Not, Matthew J. Criscione, Julian Paul Keenan Jan 2019

Our Brains Make Us Out To Be Unique In Ways We Are Not, Matthew J. Criscione, Julian Paul Keenan

Animal Sentience

Humans have long viewed themselves in a favorable light. This bias is consistent with a general pattern of self-enhancement. Neural systems in the medial prefrontal cortex underlie this way of thinking, which, even when false, may be beneficial for survival. It is hence not surprising that we often disregard contrary evidence in believing ourselves superior.


Animal Sentience Is Not Enough To Motivate Conservation, Irene M. Pepperberg Jan 2019

Animal Sentience Is Not Enough To Motivate Conservation, Irene M. Pepperberg

Animal Sentience

Chapman & Huffman suggest that humans’ views of their own superiority are a source of their callousness toward the environment. I do not disagree but point to a number of other issues that must be addressed for conservation efforts to succeed.


Mirror Neurons And Humanity’S Dark Side, Gisela Kaplan Jan 2019

Mirror Neurons And Humanity’S Dark Side, Gisela Kaplan

Animal Sentience

The last two decades have revealed brain mechanisms in birds and primates showing that, contrary to earlier prejudices, some birds can do things (cognitive and affective) on par with or even better than great apes and humans. The old dichotomies are breaking down; but the dark side is that these insights come at a time in the Anthropocene when humans have caused and continue to cause mass extinctions.


Intelligence As Mental Manipulation In Humans And Nonhuman Animals, Moran Bar-Hen-Schweiger, Avishai Henik Jan 2019

Intelligence As Mental Manipulation In Humans And Nonhuman Animals, Moran Bar-Hen-Schweiger, Avishai Henik

Animal Sentience

Chapman & Huffman review and evaluate various aspects of the notion of human superiority. In this commentary we focus on intelligence and suggest a biologically based view of intelligence applicable to humans and non-human species alike. “Mental manipulation” (e.g., mental transformations, rotations, perspective-taking), an extension of object manipulation, provides a continuous, biologically based concept for studying intelligent behavior in humans and other species and challenges the notion of human superiority.


Octopus Intelligence: The Importance Of Being Agnostic, Piero Amodio Jan 2019

Octopus Intelligence: The Importance Of Being Agnostic, Piero Amodio

Animal Sentience

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, Catia Correia Caeiro Jan 2019

What We Don't Know About Cephalopods And How To Define It, Catia Correia Caeiro

Animal Sentience

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.


Sentience Is The Foundation Of Animal Rights, Michael L. Woodruff Jan 2019

Sentience Is The Foundation Of Animal Rights, Michael L. Woodruff

Animal Sentience

Chapman & Huffman argue that the cognitive differences between humans and nonhuman animals do not make humans superior to animals. I suggest that humans have domain-general cognitive abilities that make them superior in causing uniquely complex changes in the world not caused by any other species. The ability to conceive of and articulate a claim of rights is an example. However, possession of superior cognitive ability does not entitle humans to superior moral status. It is sentience, not cognitive complexity, that is the basis for the assignment of rights and the protections under the law that accompany them.


Who Needs A Mind When You Have Thousands Of Fingers?, Yoram Gutfreund Jan 2019

Who Needs A Mind When You Have Thousands Of Fingers?, Yoram Gutfreund

Animal Sentience

Mather’s target article aligns with a common tendency of granting the octopus a mind or consciousness. But what is the meaning of an octopus’s mind? Is it part of nature or is it observer-dependent, imputed to satisfy our own psychological needs? In this commentary, I build on my own experience with octopuses to challenge the notion that we can conclusively attribute a mind to an animal; and I question the scientific usefulness of doing so.


The Ingenuity Of Cephalopods, Angel Guerra Jan 2019

The Ingenuity Of Cephalopods, Angel Guerra

Animal Sentience

I present a brief overview of the richness of cephalopod behavioral, neural and cognitive traits.


Keeping Hold Of Nurse, Andrew Packard Jan 2019

Keeping Hold Of Nurse, Andrew Packard

Animal Sentience

Mather draws from a lifetime devoted to studying individual octopuses in the wild and in aquaria to combine a natural history account of their actions with an argument from design adopted from second-, often third-hand sources. The 'distributed' [decentralised] nervous system said to contrast with that of vertebrates – a premise largely accepted by Mather’s commentators so far – does not reflect the original literature on motor control, nor the facts of comparative anatomy, functional morphology and morphogenesis. Ontogeny is absent. With the help of some old or little-known illustrations from my own participant-observer experimental investigations, I will try here to ...


Smart Sheep Need More Protection, Michael L. Woodruff Jan 2019

Smart Sheep Need More Protection, Michael L. Woodruff

Animal Sentience

The target article unequivocally establishes that sheep are far more intelligent and cognitively sophisticated than is generally acknowledged. For this reason, the authors advocate for significantly more stringent regulation of agricultural and research practices when sheep are used. I briefly review the existing US regulations governing the use of sheep in research and discuss the extent to which they are applied to sheep. I then discuss weaknesses in the current regulations, concluding that they should be changed to mandate housing all research animals in environments that accommodate the psychosocial needs of each species.


Sheeple? The Need For More Research On Sheep Cognition, Michael Colombo, Damian Scarf Jan 2019

Sheeple? The Need For More Research On Sheep Cognition, Michael Colombo, Damian Scarf

Animal Sentience

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.


What Should We Do About Sheep? The Role Of Intelligence In Welfare Considerations, Heather Browning Jan 2019

What Should We Do About Sheep? The Role Of Intelligence In Welfare Considerations, Heather Browning

Animal Sentience

Marino & Merskin (2019) demonstrate that sheep are more cognitively complex than typically thought. We should be cautious in interpreting the implications of these results for welfare considerations to avoid perpetuating mistaken beliefs about the moral value of intelligence as opposed to sentience. There are, however, still important ways in which this work can help improve sheeps’ lives.


What Every Shepherd Knows, Marthe Kiley-Worthington Jan 2019

What Every Shepherd Knows, Marthe Kiley-Worthington

Animal Sentience

The findings of the research reviewed by Marino & Merskin have been common knowledge to shepherds for millennia. Many of them are also evolutionary necessities for all mammals, especially social ones.


What Is In An Octopus's Mind?, Jennifer Mather Jan 2019

What Is In An Octopus's Mind?, Jennifer Mather

Animal Sentience

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 ...


A Community Of Minds, Bennett L. Schwartz Jan 2019

A Community Of Minds, Bennett L. Schwartz

Animal Sentience

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.


The Importance Of Research Applicability, Krista Mclennan Jan 2019

The Importance Of Research Applicability, Krista Mclennan

Animal Sentience

Marino & Merskin’s (2019) review contains key information about the complexity of sheep and their intelligence level, but lacks practical application. The key to making any long-term changes to sheep welfare at an industry level is by generating research that is practically relevant to the sector. The practical application of research should be considered at the design stage and in consultation with producers. Additionally, thought needs to be given to how the practical application of the research will be transferred to those people directly involved in animal care (e.g., producers, stockpersons, etc.). Focusing on the practical relevance and application ...


Anthropocentrism: Practical Remedies Needed, Helen Kopnina Jan 2019

Anthropocentrism: Practical Remedies Needed, Helen Kopnina

Animal Sentience

It is true that one of the harmful consequences of creating categories where one group is unique and superior to others is that it justifies discriminating against the inferior groups. And outright abuse of nonhuman animals is indeed morally unjustifiable. But what is to be done about it?


The Octopus: A Beautiful (But Disorganized) “Mind”, Jon Mallatt Jan 2019

The Octopus: A Beautiful (But Disorganized) “Mind”, Jon Mallatt

Animal Sentience

Mather (2019) presents convincing evidence that octopuses have minds, but in the first 85% of the target article, the evidence does not come through very clearly because it is hidden by other information and by problems with the paper’s organization. I propose ways to build a tighter argument in the author’s Response to the Commentaries.


Are Octopuses Special? Mind, Sociality And Life History, Phyllis C. Lee Jan 2019

Are Octopuses Special? Mind, Sociality And Life History, Phyllis C. Lee

Animal Sentience

Understanding the Umwelt or being-ness of an octopus is a fascinating problem. Mather’s review provides us with significant insights into the ways of living of non-humans that exploit a perceptual and physical world we can only guess at. Octopus “distributed minds” call into question our primate-based understandings of the importance of sociality and the pace of life in the evolution of complex perceptual and behavioural abilities.


Are Our Ideas About Octopus Life Too Anthropomorphic To Help?, Kenneth J. Aitken Jan 2019

Are Our Ideas About Octopus Life Too Anthropomorphic To Help?, Kenneth J. Aitken

Animal Sentience

Our understanding of the evolution and ontogeny of the octopus and its behavioral repertoire in its natural habitat remains rudimentary at best. There are many parallels, but also just as many differences from our models of human biology and ontogeny, making anthropocentric generalizations of limited use in explanation.


A Behavior-Analytic Approach To Understanding Octopus “Mind”, Lindsay R. Mehrkam Jan 2019

A Behavior-Analytic Approach To Understanding Octopus “Mind”, Lindsay R. Mehrkam

Animal Sentience

Mather makes a convincing case for octopus sentience based on a lot of evidence of their complex learning capabilities. It should follow from Mather’s findings that these intelligent invertebrates are worthy of welfare considerations, just as vertebrate species with similar capabilities are. I provide a complementary environment-behavior analysis of how we might understand the world of the octopus more straightforwardly, borrowing from Mather’s examples, to show how to promote opportunities for complex learning and species-typical behaviors in the octopus.


Cephalopod Molluscs, Causal Models, And Curious Minds, Andrew W. Corcoran Jan 2019

Cephalopod Molluscs, Causal Models, And Curious Minds, Andrew W. Corcoran

Animal Sentience

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.


Octopus Minds Must Lead To Octopus Ethics, Barbara J. King, Lori Marino Jan 2019

Octopus Minds Must Lead To Octopus Ethics, Barbara J. King, Lori Marino

Animal Sentience

Mather argues convincingly for the existence of minds in octopuses based largely on laboratory experiments. Many of these experiments are highly invasive and involve mutilation and death. Moreover, octopuses are now being hailed as a “new model” for biological research and are being enthusiastically bred in captivity, both for research and for food. We argue that the compelling evidence for mind in octopuses must be accompanied by intense scrutiny of the ethics that shape how we treat them and that the intrinsic value of their individual lives must be recognized.


The Perfecting Of The Octopus, Ila France Porcher Jan 2019

The Perfecting Of The Octopus, Ila France Porcher

Animal Sentience

Cephalopods split away from the phylogenetic tree about half a billion years ago, and octopus evolution has been accelerated by an extremely low survival rate. This helps explain why this unusual animal presents qualities found in no other. It has a radially organized nervous system with a processing centre for each of its eight tentacles. Yet, although this might suggest that each tentacle has its own centre of consciousness, it remains just one animal, with one mouth to feed, and one life to lose, and it behaves as if it is centrally controlled. Its capacity for a range of intelligent ...