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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 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.


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.


Precaution, Proportionality And Proper Commitments, Colin Klein Jan 2017

Precaution, Proportionality And Proper Commitments, Colin Klein

Animal Sentience

Birch’s extension of the precautionary principle (PP) is plausible but raises issues about how proportionality ought to be incorporated into law. Following Steel (2013), I suggest that the PP is best considered as a meta-norm, and as such any resulting laws are likely to lack the fineness of grain that we would hope to achieve. To fill the gap, I suggest a parallel with the ethics of studying looted artifacts.


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.