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Full-Text Articles in Life Sciences

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.


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.


The ‘Thing’ From This World, Sergio M. Pellis Jan 2019

The ‘Thing’ From This World, Sergio M. Pellis

Animal Sentience

Science progresses by making contrasts, and the living world is a gold mine of contrasts. Often disciplines become victims by focusing on too narrow a slice of that diversity, leading to a myopic view of how nature works. The relationships between the brain and behavior have been intensively studied in vertebrates, especially mammals, and we have become complacent in our assumptions about how behavior is constructed. As the target article by Mather (2019) shows, the relationship between the brain and behavior in octopuses forces us to reevaluate some of those assumptions.


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.


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 ...


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.


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.


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.


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.


Complexity Of Wild Ruminants, Ozy Brennan Jan 2019

Complexity Of Wild Ruminants, Ozy Brennan

Animal Sentience

Marino & Merskin discuss ways that popular culture winds up depicting sheep as meek and unintelligent rather than as the complex, social species they are. I extend their analysis to apply to wild ruminants, particularly deer.


Applied Cognition Research To Improve Sheep Welfare, Kristina Horback Jan 2019

Applied Cognition Research To Improve Sheep Welfare, Kristina Horback

Animal Sentience

If a change is going to occur in the care and management of domestic sheep, there needs to be a collaborative effort across many disciplines. This review by Marino & Merskin of the literature on cognitive processing in domestic sheep is limited by the inherent bias of the authors, including the impracticable goal of eliminating sheep production. Animal welfare concerns about the management of commercial sheep are valid; however, in order to make a difference, we need to develop an application for this knowledge about cognitive abilities in sheep.


The Problem Is Not Discourses Of Production; It Is Production Itself, Sean Hermanson Jan 2019

The Problem Is Not Discourses Of Production; It Is Production Itself, Sean Hermanson

Animal Sentience

The mistreatment of sheep is not because of fables, stereotypes, unconscious cultural paradigms, our collective consciousness, anthropocentricism, human arrogance, or our drive to dominate. Nonetheless, protections for sheep used in research and agriculture ought to be strengthened.


Mobilizing Heads And Hearts For Wildlife Conservation, Valérie A. M. Schoof, Simon L'Allier Jan 2019

Mobilizing Heads And Hearts For Wildlife Conservation, Valérie A. M. Schoof, Simon L'Allier

Animal Sentience

Highlighting the shared evolutionary relationships between humans and animals — and recognizing that all species, including humans, are unique in their own way — may facilitate caring for and conserving animals by tapping into a human emotion: empathy.


Sentience Is The Foundation Of Animal Rights, Michael L. Woodruff Jan 2019

Sentience Is The Foundation Of Animal Rights, Michael L. Woodruff

Animal Sentience

Chapman & Huffman argue that the cognitive differences between humans and nonhuman animals do not make humans superior to animals. I suggest that humans have domain-general cognitive abilities that make them superior in causing uniquely complex changes in the world not caused by any other species. The ability to conceive of and articulate a claim of rights is an example. However, possession of superior cognitive ability does not entitle humans to superior moral status. It is sentience, not cognitive complexity, that is the basis for the assignment of rights and the protections under the law that accompany them.


Taking Exception To Human Exceptionalism, Carrie P. Freeman Jan 2019

Taking Exception To Human Exceptionalism, Carrie P. Freeman

Animal Sentience

Chapman & Huffman refute common claims used to justify human species distinctions, and they critique the animal cruelty that has resulted from this privileged status. I raise related questions for further study of the roots of human exceptionalism and about whether aspiring to be more like our fellow animals might be part of the solution.


Phooey On Comparisons, Gwen J. Broude Jan 2019

Phooey On Comparisons, Gwen J. Broude

Animal Sentience

Chapman & Huffman reject the notion that human beings are very different from other animals. The goal is to undermine the claim that human uniqueness and even superiority are reason enough to treat other animals badly. But evaluating human uniqueness for this purpose only plays into the hands of those who exploit invidious comparisons between us and other animals to justify mistreatment of the rest of the animal kingdom. What human uniqueness we may discover would still be no justification for how we behave toward other animals. We should also ask ourselves whether any human-centric criterion can be justification for determining ...


Intelligence As Mental Manipulation In Humans And Nonhuman Animals, Moran Bar-Hen-Schweiger, Avishai Henik Jan 2019

Intelligence As Mental Manipulation In Humans And Nonhuman Animals, Moran Bar-Hen-Schweiger, Avishai Henik

Animal Sentience

Chapman & Huffman review and evaluate various aspects of the notion of human superiority. In this commentary we focus on intelligence and suggest a biologically based view of intelligence applicable to humans and non-human species alike. “Mental manipulation” (e.g., mental transformations, rotations, perspective-taking), an extension of object manipulation, provides a continuous, biologically based concept for studying intelligent behavior in humans and other species and challenges the notion of human superiority.


Human Superiority Is Obvious But Does Not Justify Cruelty, Yew-Kwang Ng Jan 2019

Human Superiority Is Obvious But Does Not Justify Cruelty, Yew-Kwang Ng

Animal Sentience

Humans are obviously superior, in general, to other animals. This is also supported by evolution and Jerison’s encephalization quotient. However, superiority does not justify cruelty towards other animals. Rather, it suggests higher responsibility. Just as adults are more capable than 2-year-olds, they also have a much higher responsibility in helping others in need, including other animals.


Anthropocentrism: Practical Remedies Needed, Helen Kopnina Jan 2019

Anthropocentrism: Practical Remedies Needed, Helen Kopnina

Animal Sentience

It is true that one of the harmful consequences of creating categories where one group is unique and superior to others is that it justifies discriminating against the inferior groups. And outright abuse of nonhuman animals is indeed morally unjustifiable. But what is to be done about it?


More Evidence Of Complex Cognition In Nonhuman Species, Lesley J. Rogers Jan 2019

More Evidence Of Complex Cognition In Nonhuman Species, Lesley J. Rogers

Animal Sentience

Chapman & Huffman have highlighted observations of animals performing, in nature, complex behaviour once thought to be unique to humans. Just as relevant to their argument are examples of cognition shown by domesticated species tested in controlled conditions. These strengthen the case for human/nonhuman similarities in behaviour and cognition. Recent research has brought to our attention the ability of nonhuman species to perform many tasks previously considered to be the hallmark of humans. Even though different species may use different ways of solving these tasks, the very fact that they can do it undermines the notion of human superiority.


Animal Sentience Is Not Enough To Motivate Conservation, Irene M. Pepperberg Jan 2019

Animal Sentience Is Not Enough To Motivate Conservation, Irene M. Pepperberg

Animal Sentience

Chapman & Huffman suggest that humans’ views of their own superiority are a source of their callousness toward the environment. I do not disagree but point to a number of other issues that must be addressed for conservation efforts to succeed.


Non-Human Animals Providing Rescue In Medical Emergencies, Rainer Spiegel Jan 2019

Non-Human Animals Providing Rescue In Medical Emergencies, Rainer Spiegel

Animal Sentience

In their target article, Chapman & Huffman challenge the quotation of Sir William Osler that the desire to take medication distinguishes humans from non-human animals. They provide examples of self-medication in non-human animals. Based on these examples, it can be inferred that non-human animals practice at least some form of medicine for symptom control. I would like to extend this view by showing that non-human animals not only provide self-medication, but also rescue others facing emergencies.


Mirror Neurons And Humanity’S Dark Side, Gisela Kaplan Jan 2019

Mirror Neurons And Humanity’S Dark Side, Gisela Kaplan

Animal Sentience

The last two decades have revealed brain mechanisms in birds and primates showing that, contrary to earlier prejudices, some birds can do things (cognitive and affective) on par with or even better than great apes and humans. The old dichotomies are breaking down; but the dark side is that these insights come at a time in the Anthropocene when humans have caused and continue to cause mass extinctions.


Developmental Aspects Of Capacities, Karen Bartsch Jan 2019

Developmental Aspects Of Capacities, Karen Bartsch

Animal Sentience

Chapman & Huffman suggest that judgments of human superiority underlie our cruelty to animals. It might be useful to examine how such judgments operate within the human community. Children arguably have a potential for developing “superior” capacities but are outperformed on many tasks by animals. There is a continuum of development in children’s capacities. Perhaps there are interspecies evolutionary continua too. This highlights the complexity of reasoning about humans, animals, and moral inclusion.