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Full-Text Articles in Philosophy

Animal Suicide: An Account Worth Giving?, Irina Mikhalevich Jan 2018

Animal Suicide: An Account Worth Giving?, Irina Mikhalevich

Animal Sentience

Peña-Guzmán (2017) argues that empirical evidence and evolutionary theory compel us to treat the phenomenon of suicide as continuous in the animal kingdom. He defends a “continuist” account in which suicide is a multiply-realizable phenomenon characterized by self-injurious and self-annihilative behaviors. This view is problematic for several reasons. First, it appears to mischaracterize the Darwinian view that mind is continuous in nature. Second, by focusing only on surface-level features of behavior, it groups causally and etiologically disparate phenomena under a single conceptual umbrella, thereby reducing the account’s explanatory power. Third, it obscures existing analyses of suicide in biomedical ethics ...


Caterpillar/Basil-Plant Tandems, Paco Calvo Jan 2018

Caterpillar/Basil-Plant Tandems, Paco Calvo

Animal Sentience

According to Reber (2016), subjectivity springs from primitive life itself. Granting his non-neurocentric stance, I shall try to show that his framework falls prey to zoocentric preconceptions that divest certain non-animal life-forms of mentality. There is no reason to exclude the possibility that plants have evolved different structures that underlie their own subjective experiences, all according to Reber’s model. It is the degree of phenotypic flexibility and integration that we observe in the behavioral repertoire of plants that may end up supporting their capacity for subjective experience. This remains an open empirical question.


Reductionism And Accounts Of Cognitive Dissonance, Kent D. Bodily Jan 2017

Reductionism And Accounts Of Cognitive Dissonance, Kent D. Bodily

Animal Sentience

Zentall (2016) proposed within-trial contrast as an alternative account of cognitive dissonance with greater parsimony and generalizability between human and nonhuman species. This commentary describes forms of reductionism, categorizes several competing accounts of cognitive dissonance phenomena, and addresses the strengths and weaknesses according to the reductionist form each account takes. A focus on functional relations may make explanation more parsimonious while bridging theoretical divides between human and nonhuman research programs.


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 ...


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 ...


Scientific Uncertainty And The Animal Sentience Precautionary Principle, Michael L. Woodruff Jan 2017

Scientific Uncertainty And The Animal Sentience Precautionary Principle, Michael L. Woodruff

Animal Sentience

Jonathan Birch offers the animal sentience precautionary principle (ASPP) as a framework for assigning sentience to animals. In doing this, he defines a BAR which when crossed will lead to action (ACT) and implementation of the ASPP. His effort to create a clear empirical basis for implementation of the precautionary principle in the area of animal welfare regulation is important. I argue, however, that his BAR is so low that the evidence supporting ACT is in danger of being overwhelmed by the problems of induction and the underdetermination of theory by evidence. If this happens, policy makers might well disregard ...


"Beyond Words," Yes, But Also Beyond Numbers, Fred L. Bookstein Jul 2016

"Beyond Words," Yes, But Also Beyond Numbers, Fred L. Bookstein

Animal Sentience

Safina’s fascinating series of fifty separate feuilletons tries to bridge a painful Methodenstreit in contemporary ethology mainly by an accumulation of anecdotes. Some deal with his own dogs, but most derive from reading or conversing with observers of a wider range of social mammals including elephants, wolves, apes, and whales. In spite of the many interruptions by travesties of the academic lifestyle and its literature, there is a point to be made, concerning the centrality of evidence about cooperative behavior styles, especially aspects of child-rearing, for the understanding of “what animals think and feel.” But Safina’s argument would ...


Fish Sentience And The Precautionary Principle, Robert C. Jones Jan 2016

Fish Sentience And The Precautionary Principle, Robert C. Jones

Animal Sentience

Key (2016) argues that fish do not feel pain based on neuroanatomical evidence. I argue that Key makes a number of conceptual, philosophical, and empirical errors that undermine his claim.


No Evidence That Pain Is Painful Neural Process, Riccardo Manzotti Jan 2016

No Evidence That Pain Is Painful Neural Process, Riccardo Manzotti

Animal Sentience

Key (2016) claims that fish do not feel pain because they lack the neural structures that have a contingent causal role in generating and feeling pain in mammals. I counterargue that no conclusive evidence supports the sufficiency of any mammalian neural structure to produce pain. We cannot move from contingent necessity in mammals to necessity in every organism.


What Would The Babel Fish Say?, Monica Gagliano Jan 2016

What Would The Babel Fish Say?, Monica Gagliano

Animal Sentience

Starting with its title, Key’s (2016) target article advocates the view that fish do not feel pain. The author describes the neuroanatomical, physiological and behavioural conditions involved in the experience of pain in humans and rodents and confidently applies analogical arguments as though they were established facts in support of the negative conclusion about the inability of fish to feel pain. The logical reasoning, unfortunately, becomes somewhat incoherent, with the arbitrary application of the designated human criteria for an analogical argument to one animal species (e.g., rodents) but not another (fish). Research findings are reported selectively, and questionable ...