Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Philosophy Commons

Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Life Sciences

Precautionary principle

Publication Year

Articles 1 - 9 of 9

Full-Text Articles in Philosophy

On Crabs And Statistics, Jonathan Birch Jan 2018

On Crabs And Statistics, Jonathan Birch

Animal Sentience

I respond to commentaries by Elwood and Seth & Dienes and to a recent critique by Diggles, discussing the link between avoidance learning and sentience, the relevance of the clash between frequentist and Bayesian statistics, the risks to decapod welfare in aquaculture, and the broader concerns one may have about a “precautionary” approach to protecting invertebrates.


Animal Sentience And The Precautionary Principle, Jonathan Birch Jan 2017

Animal Sentience And The Precautionary Principle, Jonathan Birch

Animal Sentience

In debates about animal sentience, the precautionary principle is often invoked. The idea is that when the evidence of sentience is inconclusive, we should “give the animal the benefit of the doubt” or “err on the side of caution” in formulating animal protection legislation. Yet there remains confusion as to whether it is appropriate to apply the precautionary principle in this context, and, if so, what “applying the precautionary principle” means in practice regarding the burden of proof for animal sentience. Here I construct a version of the precautionary principle tailored to the question of animal sentience together with a ...


Cautions About Precautions, Jay R. Stauffer Jr. Jan 2017

Cautions About Precautions, Jay R. Stauffer Jr.

Animal Sentience

Assuming an animal to be sentient in the absence of conclusive evidence to the contrary is an extreme position, hence it should not and could not be the default assumption. Birch explains how the precautionary principle may be used to substantiate decisions to give the animal the benefit of doubt. Although I am reluctant to accept all of his points, Birch has provided an excellent argument for the use of the precautionary principle for the detection of animal sentience. I agree that more research is needed to refine and understand this relationship.


A Risk Assessment And Phylogenetic Approach, Culum Brown Jan 2017

A Risk Assessment And Phylogenetic Approach, Culum Brown

Animal Sentience

The precautionary principal is often invoked when talking about the evidence of sentience in animals, largely because we can never be certain what any animal is thinking or feeling. Birch (2017) offers a preliminary framework for the use of the precautionary principal for animal sentience combining an epistemic rule with a decision rule. I extend this framework by adding an evolutionary phylogentic approach which spreads the burden of proof across broad taxonomic groups and a risk assessment component which magnifies the likely impact by the number of animals involved.


What If All Animals Are Sentient?, Arthur S. Reber Jan 2017

What If All Animals Are Sentient?, Arthur S. Reber

Animal Sentience

Birch develops a useful framework for determining when the Animal Sentience Precautionary Principle (ASPP) should be invoked. He rightly notes that there is a lack of agreement among social scientists, ethicists, and legislators even about whether the precautionary principle is useful, let alone when and how it should be implemented. His proposal is to establish a kind of cognitive threshold, and only when an animal shows a sufficient level of sentience would the ASPP be appropriate. From the point of view of the Cellular Basis of Consciousness model (Reber, 2016), all animals are sentient. If correct, the problems Birch identifies ...


A Preliminary Investigation Into The Welfare Of Lobsters In The Uk, Gemma Carder Jan 2017

A Preliminary Investigation Into The Welfare Of Lobsters In The Uk, Gemma Carder

Animal Sentience

The welfare of invertebrates is overlooked and their needs are not understood. It is assumed that they do not experience pain and suffering. Studies on decapod crustaceans challenge this assumption. Research has focused on distinguishing between nociception (the ability to detect a harmful stimulus and to react to it reflexively) and pain (an aversive feeling or emotional experience). Findings indicate that decapod crustaceans can experience pain, which supports a case for protecting their welfare. I have investigated the current husbandry conditions of a globally consumed decapod crustacean, the lobster, as housed in tanks inside food outlets in the UK. Housing ...


Refining The Precautionary Framework, Jonathan Birch Jan 2017

Refining The Precautionary Framework, Jonathan Birch

Animal Sentience

Most of the commentators so far agree that the precautionary principle can be usefully applied to the question of animal sentience. I consider various ways of refining my proposals in light of the suggestions. I amend BAR to implement C. Brown’s suggestion that the scope of animal welfare law should be extensible by phylogenetic inference from orders in which credible indicators of sentience are found. In response to C. Brown, Mallatt, and Woodruff, I amend ACT to allow that a single credible indicator may sometimes call for urgent further investigation rather than immediate protection. In response to Paez, I ...


The Value Of Bayesian Statistics For Assessing Credible Evidence Of Animal Sentience, Anil K. Seth, Zoltan Dienes Jan 2017

The Value Of Bayesian Statistics For Assessing Credible Evidence Of Animal Sentience, Anil K. Seth, Zoltan Dienes

Animal Sentience

Determining what constitutes practically relevant, statistically significant evidence for animal sentience, under the precautionary principle, could be enhanced through Bayesian statistics. A Bayesian approach allows the incorporation of multiple evidence sources through prior probabilities, the tracking of changing evidence across time, and a principled means of adjusting evidentiary bars via Bayes factors.


Animal Pain And The Social Role Of Science, Leslie Irvine Jan 2017

Animal Pain And The Social Role Of Science, Leslie Irvine

Animal Sentience

Assuming that all animals are sentient would mean ending their use in most scientific research. This does not necessarily imply an unscientific or anti-scientific stance. Examining the social role of science reveals its considerable investment in preserving the status quo, including the continued use of animal subjects. From this perspective, the use of animal subjects is a custom that science could move beyond, rather than a methodological requirement that it must defend.