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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 ...


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.


Humans Have Always Been Unique!, William C. Mcgrew Jan 2019

Humans Have Always Been Unique!, William C. Mcgrew

Animal Sentience

Arguments about human uniqueness apply not only to extant species but also to extinct ones, that is, the hominin predecessors of anatomically modern Homo sapiens. Thus, unique and superior are doubly relative terms, in past and present. The scope for empirical comparison faces a spectrum of difficulty, from material (e.g., artefacts) to non-material (e.g., concepts) phenomena.


Taking Darwinism Seriously, Carsta Simon Jan 2019

Taking Darwinism Seriously, Carsta Simon

Animal Sentience

Chapman & Huffman propose that dropping the categorical distinction between human and nonhuman animals may reduce the atrocious acts of humans towards nonhuman animals, but will it? Taking Darwinism seriously means accepting physical and behavioral continuity across species, including the capacity to feel pain.


What Is Good For An Octopus?, Heather Browning Jan 2019

What Is Good For An Octopus?, Heather Browning

Animal Sentience

Mather (2019) has brought together the current empirical research in support of the claim that octopuses possess minds; and the weight of the evidence does appear to support octopus sentience. Being sentient means an organism has welfare concerns, a subjective experience of life that can go well or poorly. Protecting welfare requires knowing what conditions will have a positive or negative impact. Understanding what is in the mind of an octopus will give us valuable insight into what is good for an octopus.


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.


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 ...


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 ...


Octopus Umwelt Or Umwelten?, Luis H. Favela Jan 2019

Octopus Umwelt Or Umwelten?, Luis H. Favela

Animal Sentience

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.


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.


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 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.


Octopi-Ing A Unique Niche In Comparative Psychology, Jennifer Vonk Jan 2019

Octopi-Ing A Unique Niche In Comparative Psychology, Jennifer Vonk

Animal Sentience

Mather’s work has been fundamental in informing scientists of the relatively mysterious behavior and cognition of an understudied group of animals – the cephalopods. This work helps to fill a gap in the comparative literature that has historically sought evidence for complex behavior only in species that are closely related to humans or share important ecological features such as social complexity.


Pulling The Wool From Our Eyes, Jennifer Vonk Jan 2019

Pulling The Wool From Our Eyes, Jennifer Vonk

Animal Sentience

Marino & Merskin review evidence of the complexity of sheep cognition, concluding that researchers ought to feel sheepish about misrepresenting ovine cognitive capacities. However, the failure to situate the data in critical context risks pulling the wool over readers’ eyes.


Is Knowing Enough To Change Human Attitudes And Actions?, Liv Baker Jan 2019

Is Knowing Enough To Change Human Attitudes And Actions?, Liv Baker

Animal Sentience

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?


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.


Sheep In Aesop’S And Phaedrus’S Fables, Matteo Colombo, Chiara Raucea Jan 2019

Sheep In Aesop’S And Phaedrus’S Fables, Matteo Colombo, Chiara Raucea

Animal Sentience

Sheep feature in various animal fables. Marino & Merskin suggest that “we” view sheep as “docile, passive, unintelligent, and timid,” but animal fables do not support this view. In Aesop’s and Phaedrus’s fables, sheep are a primary target of injustice; but they are not passive targets. Sheep endure injustice actively and honestly. They are intelligent, aware and outspoken about their own condition.


Adding Sheep To The Spectrum Of Comparative Psychology, James King Jan 2019

Adding Sheep To The Spectrum Of Comparative Psychology, James King

Animal Sentience

Marino & Merskin’s comprehensive review of cognitive complexity in sheep is a laudable and important contribution to comparative psychology. It is also valuable because it shows promising directions for future research on this neglected species. The relatively small number of neurons in the bovid cerebral cortex indicates that sheep cognitive performance on traditional measures of complex learning is limited. Nevertheless, the social and emotional complexity of sheep underscores the importance of further research into domains including personality and psychological well-being.


Can A Mirror Capture The Self?, Cynthia Willett Jan 2019

Can A Mirror Capture The Self?, Cynthia Willett

Animal Sentience

Is the mirror a reliable indicator of self-awareness for any species, whether sheep or human? Taking a cue from feminist, phenomenological, and cross-cultural philosophy, a relational self rather than a reflective one might better capture what is at stake for the lives of social animals and for science.


Social Cognition In Sheep: Welfare Implications, Keith M. Kendrick Jan 2019

Social Cognition In Sheep: Welfare Implications, Keith M. Kendrick

Animal Sentience

More research has been carried out on social cognition in sheep than in other farm animal species. Although this has often been featured widely in the media, there is still limited public awareness of it. Marino & Merskin’s review is therefore both important and timely. In my commentary, I focus primarily on what has been established about the complexity of sheep social cognition, at the level of both brain and behavior, and on some of these findings for sheep welfare.


Refining Thoughts About Human/Nonhuman Differences, Colin A. Chapman, Michael A. Huffman Jan 2019

Refining Thoughts About Human/Nonhuman Differences, Colin A. Chapman, Michael A. Huffman

Animal Sentience

Our commentators come from many fields and disciplines and express highly divergent views, illustrating broad interest in the question. From the breadth of comments, we have identified two recurring themes, which we focus on here. The first is a preponderance of cautionary remarks about evaluating the differences between humans and nonhuman animals. The second concerns whether considering animals as worthy of moral consideration is one of many useful tools for conservationists trying to prevent extinction, habitat destruction, and climate change.


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.


Intelligence, Complexity, And Individuality In Sheep, Lori Marino, Debra Merskin Jan 2019

Intelligence, Complexity, And Individuality In Sheep, Lori Marino, Debra Merskin

Animal Sentience

Domestic sheep (Ovis aries) are among the earliest animals domesticated for human use. They are consumed worldwide as mutton, hogget, and lamb, kept as wool and milk producers, and used extensively in scientific research. The popular stereotype is that sheep are docile, passive, unintelligent, and timid, but a review of the research on their behavior, affect, cognition, and personality reveals that they are complex, individualistic, and social.


Sacrificial Lambs, Clive Phillips Jan 2019

Sacrificial Lambs, Clive Phillips

Animal Sentience

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 ...


Reflections On Sheep Rearing, Joyce D'Silva Jan 2019

Reflections On Sheep Rearing, Joyce D'Silva

Animal Sentience

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, David M. Peña-Guzmán Jan 2019

Casting A Sheep’S Eye On Science, David M. Peña-Guzmán

Animal Sentience

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.