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The Inconvenient Truth About Thinking Chickens, Lori Marino Sep 2017

The Inconvenient Truth About Thinking Chickens, Lori Marino

Animal Sentience

Original Abstract: Domestic chickens are members of an order, Aves, which has been the focus of a revolution in our understanding of neuroanatomical, cognitive, and social complexity. Some birds are now known to be on a par with many mammals in their intelligence, emotional sophistication, and social interaction. Yet views of chickens have largely remained unrevised in light of this new evidence. In this paper, I examine the data on cognition, emotions, personality, and sociality in chickens, exploring such areas as self-awareness, cognitive bias, social learning and self-control, and comparing their abilities with other birds and other vertebrates, particularly mammals ...


Choice-Induced Preference: A Challenge For Contrast, Benjamin R. Eisenreich, Benjamin Y. Hayden Jan 2017

Choice-Induced Preference: A Challenge For Contrast, Benjamin R. Eisenreich, Benjamin Y. Hayden

Animal Sentience

In his target article, Zentall asks: “to experience cognitive dissonance is it necessary for one to have conflicting beliefs or even beliefs at all?” He then argues that a simple behavioral process, the Within Trial Contrast Effect, may be sufficient to explain observed cognitive dissonance effects in nonhuman animals and possibly humans as well. We agree with Zentall that this effect is sufficient to explain many reported cognitive dissonance effects in nonhuman animals, but question its sufficiency for primate behavior (both monkeys and humans).


Self, Death, And Suicide: Does An Animal Know Of These?, Carolyn A. Ristau Jan 2017

Self, Death, And Suicide: Does An Animal Know Of These?, Carolyn A. Ristau

Animal Sentience

Peña-Guzmán makes a strong case, using examples from the media and scientific literature, that many captive animals suffer severely. In examining the possibility of animal suicide, he dismisses the need for “reflective self-subjectivity” and “intent” in suicidal behavior. He claims that at least some animals understand “death,” citing examples of behavior he deems to be death “rituals.” But these can be more simply interpreted. The possibility of animal suicide remains more dubious than Peña-Guzmán suggests.


Is Psychological Science Committing “Suicide” By Linguistic Muddling?, Roger K. Thomas Jan 2017

Is Psychological Science Committing “Suicide” By Linguistic Muddling?, Roger K. Thomas

Animal Sentience

Beginning mainly with the “cognitive revolution” in psychology in the latter half of the 20th century, psychological science has been committing “suicide” slowly via linguistic muddling. Peña-Guzmán’s target article is but one of thousands of cuts contributing to this death by “suicide.” Having said that, given the current state of affairs in animal cognition research, there is much to commend in Peña-Guzmán’s article. I leave that to others, however. This commentary explains how the suicide by muddling of psychological science is happening in general, with the understanding that it applies also to Peña-Guzmán’s target article.


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 ...


Chickens’ Brains, Like Ours, Are Lateralized, Lesley J. Rogers Jan 2017

Chickens’ Brains, Like Ours, Are Lateralized, Lesley J. Rogers

Animal Sentience

This commentary draws attention to yet another attribute that has been instrumental in demonstrating the cognitive abilities of domestic chicks: lateralization of brain function. The discovery of lateralization in domestic chicks was part of the first evidence showing that humans are not unique in this respect. The effects on cognitive ability of sensory stimulation in critical stages of development have implications for the welfare of chicks, as well as other species.


Scientific Advances And Moral Inertia, Kathie Jenni Jan 2017

Scientific Advances And Moral Inertia, Kathie Jenni

Animal Sentience

Marino shows that chickens are as complex mentally as other birds and mammals. Yet common perceptions of chickens are slow to change in response to the science. Human capacities for willful ignorance, inattention, and avoidance keep us from learning about the animals we harm, and the inertia of habit and tradition keeps us from taking appropriate action in response to what we learn. It’s essential for teachers and activists to find ways to overcome this inattention and inertia.


Clarifying Concepts In Cognitive Dissonance Theory, Eddie Harmon-Jones Jan 2017

Clarifying Concepts In Cognitive Dissonance Theory, Eddie Harmon-Jones

Animal Sentience

This commentary on Zentall’s target article focuses primarily on clarifying some postulates and variables in cognitive dissonance theory. I discuss the adaptive motivational functions of dissonance arousal and dissonance reduction, and attempt to clarify some past dissonance experiments and to tease apart a dissonance theory and contrast explanation of effort-justification-type effects. The evidence and arguments reviewed here support the explanatory power of cognitive dissonance theory in a wide variety of circumstances in human and nonhuman animals, but they depend on first defining concepts such as “cognitions” quite broadly, as Festinger did when he originally proposed the theory.


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.


The Potential For Sentience In Fishes, Jay R. Stauffer Jr. Jan 2017

The Potential For Sentience In Fishes, Jay R. Stauffer Jr.

Animal Sentience

Balcombe’s book is filled with information on the biology, behavior, and life history of fishes. I do not agree with all his premises. I am still somewhat perplexed about the discussion of whether fish feel pain; I am not sure whether the distinction between nociception and pain makes any difference. Overall, however, his treatment of the principles of both natural and sexual selection is comprehensive and accurate, and has greatly increased my knowledge and awareness of the biology, ethology, and potential for sentience in fishes. In summary, this work has exposed me to new ideas about how to examine ...


Fishes Are Gaining Academic Respect, Jonathan Balcombe Jan 2017

Fishes Are Gaining Academic Respect, Jonathan Balcombe

Animal Sentience

I respond to five commentaries on my 2016 book What a Fish Knows. The commentaries express more harmony than dissent about my interpretation of fishes as cognitive, aware individuals deserving better treatment by humankind.


Consciousness, Evidence, And Moral Standing, Irina Mikhalevich Jan 2017

Consciousness, Evidence, And Moral Standing, Irina Mikhalevich

Animal Sentience

Woodruff (2017) claims to have identified the neural correlates of phenomenal consciousness (“p-consciousness”) in fishes, and argues that these neurological data, along with behavioral evidence, suggest that teleost fishes are in all probability sentient organisms. Woodruff’s case may be strengthened by challenging key assumptions behind a common criticism of accounts such as his: that fishes cannot be p-conscious because they lack the cortical structures necessary for p-consciousness. A more serious objection to Woodruff’s proposal would be that his evidence for p-consciousness establishes only that fishes are “access-conscious” (“a-conscious”), where a-conscious states are cognitive representations that are made available ...


Battlefish Contention, Sean Allen-Hermanson Jan 2017

Battlefish Contention, Sean Allen-Hermanson

Animal Sentience

Contrary to Woodruff’s suggestion, investigations into possible reasoning capacities of cichlid fighting fish and trace memory in goldfish do not support claims about sentience. This is disputed by research results about learning and implicit processing, sleep, vegetative states, amnesia, semantic priming, artificial network modeling, and even insects. A novel, deflationary, interpretation of Grosenick et al.'s experiments on A. burtoni is also offered.


Sentience In Living Tissue, Alfredo Pereira Jr. Jan 2017

Sentience In Living Tissue, Alfredo Pereira Jr.

Animal Sentience

I agree with Woodruff’s concept of sentience but must disagree about what he proposes as the biological correlates of feeling. Based on the interpretation of brain function originally presented by Camilo Golgi, I assume that feelings are instantiated by hydro-ionic waves in living tissue. From this viewpoint, the anatomical, physiological and behavioural criteria of Woodruff would not be necessary to argue for sentience in fish.


Of Cortex And Consciousness: “Phenomenal,” “Access,” Or Otherwise, Scott A. Husband Jan 2017

Of Cortex And Consciousness: “Phenomenal,” “Access,” Or Otherwise, Scott A. Husband

Animal Sentience

From the perspective of a comparative neuroanatomist studying the avian pallium, Woodruff’s (2017) claims about the behavioral and electrophysiological evidence for teleost sentience blur the lines between phenomenal and access consciousness (Block, 1995). I discuss the bias that complex cognition can only arise in the cortical layering typical of the mammalian pallium and conclude that Woodruff makes a good case that the tecto-pallial connections in teleosts are sufficiently complex to support something like sentience.


Learning, Memory, Cognition, And The Question Of Sentience In Fish, Robert Gerlai Jan 2017

Learning, Memory, Cognition, And The Question Of Sentience In Fish, Robert Gerlai

Animal Sentience

Evolutionarily conserved features have been demonstrated at many levels of biological organization across a variety of species. Evolutionary conservation may apply to complex behavioral phenomena too. It is thus not inconceivable that a form of sentience does exist even in the lowest order vertebrate taxon, the teleosts. How similar it is to human sentience in its level of complexity or in its multidimensional features is a difficult question, especially from an experimental standpoint, given that even the definition of human sentience is debated. Woodruff attempts a Turing-like test of fish sentience, and lists numerous neuroanatomic, neurophysiological and behavioral similarities between ...


We Still Need A Theory, Paula Droege Jan 2017

We Still Need A Theory, Paula Droege

Animal Sentience

Woodruff (2017) has compiled a convincing array of data to support his contention that teleost fish feel pain. However, in the absence of an explanatory theory about the nature and function of consciousness, a checklist of criteria is insufficient to allay skeptical concerns. I offer a theory that can explain why features like selective attention and behavioral flexibility indicate consciousness. Consciousness represents the present moment in order to allow dynamic changes in actions or goals in response to situational demands.


The Precautionary Principle: A Cautionary Note, Robert C. Jones Jan 2017

The Precautionary Principle: A Cautionary Note, Robert C. Jones

Animal Sentience

The precautionary principle regarding animal sentience is often used in decision-making about human actions that may cause harm to nonhuman animals. Birch (2017) develops an account of the precautionary principle requiring two pragmatic rules for its implementation. I support Birch's proposal but offer a cautionary note about relying on precautionary principles if one's ultimate goal is to emancipate animals from human domination.


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.


Nagel-Ing Worries About Fish Sentience, Hugh Lafollette Jan 2017

Nagel-Ing Worries About Fish Sentience, Hugh Lafollette

Animal Sentience

Woodruff (2017) argues that teleosts’ more sophisticated behaviors make sense only if they are sentient. Moreover, their neuroanatomy, although different from mammalian, is sufficiently complex to support sentience. I answer some potential objections to Woodruff’s argument, and try to trace its moral significance. In so doing, I briefly address Birch’s (2017) target article as well.


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.


Shoring Up The Precautionary Bar, Jon Mallatt Jan 2017

Shoring Up The Precautionary Bar, Jon Mallatt

Animal Sentience

I offer four ways to reinforce Birch’s precautionary principle so it can be used effectively and practically in deciding which animals to cover by legislation for humane treatment: (1) add one more credible indicator of sentience to the BAR rule; (2) use phylogenetic classification, not the outdated Linnaean classification, to test which animal clades have sentience; (3) disentangle the pain of suffering from sentience; and (4) reconsider the sentient status of decapods and insects to remove potential inconsistencies in the proposed framework.


Raising The Moral Consciousness Of Science, Bernard Rollin Jan 2017

Raising The Moral Consciousness Of Science, Bernard Rollin

Animal Sentience

Precaution on behalf of sentient animals should not be tempered by the questionable principle of the amorality of science.


What Can Research On Nonhumans Tell Us About Human Dissonance?, Jennifer Vonk Jan 2017

What Can Research On Nonhumans Tell Us About Human Dissonance?, Jennifer Vonk

Animal Sentience

Zentall’s thoughtful review of the literature on cognitive dissonance in nonhumans helps to highlight the common finding that similar outcomes in humans and nonhumans can be attributed to different underlying mechanisms. I advocate a more fully comparative approach to the underlying mechanisms, avoiding the assumption of shared processes in humans and nonhumans.


Dissonance Reduction In Nonhuman Animals: Implications For Cognitive Dissonance Theory, Cindy Harmon-Jones, Nick Haslam, Brock Bastian Jan 2017

Dissonance Reduction In Nonhuman Animals: Implications For Cognitive Dissonance Theory, Cindy Harmon-Jones, Nick Haslam, Brock Bastian

Animal Sentience

We review the evidence for dissonance reduction in nonhuman animals and examine the alternative explanations for these effects. If nonhuman animals engage in dissonance reduction, this supports the original theory as proposed by Festinger (1957) over the revisions to the theory that focused on the self-concept. Evidence of animal sentience, including dissonance reduction, may be a source of cognitive dissonance.


Cognitive Dissonance Or Contrast? It Could Be Both, Thomas Zentall Jan 2017

Cognitive Dissonance Or Contrast? It Could Be Both, Thomas Zentall

Animal Sentience

My target article suggested that cognitive dissonance may be accounted for by a simpler mechanism: contrast. Whether contrast can explain all cognitive dissonance effects is an empirical question, but it is always useful to try to distinguish simpler mechanisms from more complex cognitive ones. The insistence that cognitive dissonance is a human-only process quite different from contrast may be a self-serving means of justifying the exploitation of animals.


Experiment Versus Analogy In The Search For Animal Sentience, Geoffrey Hall Jan 2017

Experiment Versus Analogy In The Search For Animal Sentience, Geoffrey Hall

Animal Sentience

Deciding between rival accounts of an instance of an animal’s behavior can frequently be achieved by experimental tests of different predictions made by the alternatives. When, however, one (or both) of the alternatives is expressed in terms of the mental state of the animal, an experimental test to distinguish them can be hard to find. Although it is unsatisfactory in many ways, it may be necessary to fall back on argument from analogy with human behavior and experience.


Cognitive Continuity In Cognitive Dissonance, David R. Brodbeck, Madeleine I. R. Brodbeck Jan 2017

Cognitive Continuity In Cognitive Dissonance, David R. Brodbeck, Madeleine I. R. Brodbeck

Animal Sentience

Zentall’s (2016) model of cognitive dissonance is compatible with cognitive continuity between humans and nonhumans. It may help explain cognitive dissonance-like behavior in many species, including humans. It is also consistent with Tinbergen’s (1963) ‘four whys’ in ethological explanation.


Establishing That Contrast Is Cognitive Dissonance, Travis R. Smith Jan 2017

Establishing That Contrast Is Cognitive Dissonance, Travis R. Smith

Animal Sentience

Zentall suggests that the same mechanism underlies cognitive dissonance in humans and the within-trial contrast effect in pigeons (and humans). The contrast effect has face validity in explaining cognitive dissonance, but more research is needed to establish construct validity. To determine whether both phenomena share the same mechanism, future research should test (1) whether both share physiological processes, (2) whether individuals who show sensitivity to one are also sensitive to the other, and (3) whether both phenomena are affected by the same changes in an independent variable.