Abstract:Human and animal research both operate within established standards. In the United States, criticism of the human research environment and recorded abuses of human research subjects served as the impetus for the establishment of the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, and the resulting Belmont Report. The Belmont Report established key ethical principles to which human research should adhere: respect for autonomy, obligations to beneficence and justice, and special protections for vulnerable individuals and (...) populations. While current guidelines appropriately aim to protect the individual interests of human participants in research, no similar, comprehensive, and principled effort has addressed the use of (nonhuman) animals in research. Although published policies regarding animal research provide relevant regulatory guidance, the lack of a fundamental effort to explore the ethical issues and principles that should guide decisions about the potential use of animals in research has led to unclear and disparate policies. Here, we explore how the ethical principles outlined in the Belmont Report could be applied consistently to animals. We describe how concepts such as respect for autonomy and obligations to beneficence and justice could be applied to animals, as well as how animals are entitled to special protections as a result of their vulnerability. (shrink)
Though the vegetarian movement sparked by Peter Singer’s book Animal Liberation has achieved some success, there is more animal suffering caused today due to factory farming than there was when the book was originally written. In this paper, I argue that there may be a technological solution to the problem of animal suffering in intensive factory farming operations. In particular, I suggest that recent research indicates that we may be very close to, if not already at, the point where we (...) can genetically engineer factory-farmed livestock with a reduced or completely eliminated capacity to suffer. In as much as animal suffering is the principal concern that motivates the animal welfare movement, this development should be of central interest to its adherents. Moreover, I will argue that all people concerned with animal welfare should agree that we ought to replace the animals currently used in factory farming with animals whose ability to suffer is diminished if we are able to do so. (shrink)
This edited volume represents a unique addition to the available literature on animal ethics, animal studies, and neuroethics. Its goal is to expand discussions on animal ethics and neuroethics by weaving together different threads: philosophy of mind and animal minds, neuroscientific study of animal minds, and animal ethics. Neuroethical questions concerning animals’ moral status, animal minds and consciousness, animal pain, and the adequacy of animal models for neuropsychiatric disease have long been topics of debate in philosophy and ethics, and more (...) recently also in neuroscientific research. The book presents a transdisciplinary blend of voices, underscoring different perspectives on the broad questions of how neuroscience can contribute to our understanding of nonhuman minds, and on debates over the moral status of nonhuman animals. All chapters were written by outstanding scholars in philosophy, neuroscience, animal behavior, biology, neuroethics, and bioethics, and cover a range of issues and species/taxa. Given its scope, the book will appeal to scientists and students interested in the debate on animal ethics, while also offering an important resource for future researchers. Chapter 13 of this book is available open access under a CC BY 4.0 license at link.springer.com. (shrink)
Many traditional attempts to show that nonhuman animals are deserving of moral consideration have taken the form of an argument by analogy. However, arguments of this kind have had notable weaknesses and, in particular, have not been able to convince two kinds of skeptics. One of the most important weaknesses of these arguments is that they fail to provide theoretical justifications for why particular physiological similarities should be considered relevant. This paper examines recent empirical research on pain and, in particular, (...) explores the implications of the dissociation between the sensory and the affective pain pathways. It is argued that these results show that the belief that nonhuman animals experience pain in a morally relevant way is reasonable, though not certain. It is further argued that the proposal to explore the relationship between consciousness and various forms of learning challenges the aforementioned skeptics to provide more physiological details for their claims that nonhuman mammals are probably not conscious. (shrink)
In recent years, humans’ ability to selectively modify genes has increased dramatically as a result of the development of new, more efficient, and easier genetic modification technology. In this paper, we argue in favor of using this technology to improve the welfare of agricultural animals. We first argue that using animals genetically modified for improved welfare is preferable to the current status quo. Nevertheless, the strongest argument against pursuing gene editing for welfare is that there are alternative approaches to addressing (...) some of the challenges of modern agriculture that may offer ethical advantages over genetic modification; namely, a dramatic shift towards plant-based diets or the development of in vitro meat. Nevertheless, we provide reasons for thinking that despite these possible comparative disadvantages there are important reasons for continuing the pursuit of welfare improvements via genetic modification. (shrink)
Recent results from the neurosciences demonstrate that pleasure and pain are not two symmetrical poles of a single scale of experience but in fact two different types of experiences altogether, with dramatically different contributions to well-being. These differences between pleasure and pain and the general finding that “the bad is stronger than the good” have important implications for our treatment of nonhuman animals. In particular, whereas animal experimentation that causes suffering might be justified if it leads to the prevention of (...) more suffering, it can never by justified merely by leading to increased levels of happiness. (shrink)
Many ethicists writing about well-being have assumed that claims made about the relationship between pleasure and well-being carry similar implications for the relationship between pain and well-being. I argue that the current neuroscience of pleasure and pain does not support this assumption. In particular, I argue that the experiences of pleasure and pain are mediated by different cognitive systems, that they make different contributions to human behavior in general and to well-being in particular, and that they bear fundamentally different relationships (...) to our motivational systems and hence desires. I further argue that though there is ample evidence that pleasure can be dissociated from appetitive motivation, there is no compelling evidence suggesting that the unpleasantness of pain can be dissociated from the aversive motivational force of pains. I consider several objections to this claim, including Jennifer Corns’ recent arguments that the unpleasantness of pain experience can be dissociated from the motivational signal of pain, before briefly drawing some lessons for ethics. (shrink)
Carruthers argues that an integrated faculty of metarepresentation evolved for mindreading and was later exapted for metacognition. A more consistent application of his approach would regard metarepresentation in mindreading with the same skeptical rigor, concluding that the “faculty” may have been entirely exapted. Given this result, the usefulness of Carruthers’ line-drawing exercise is called into question.
Peter Carruthers argues that phenomenal consciousness might not matter very much either for the purpose of determining which nonhuman animals are appropriate objects of moral sympathy, or for the purpose of explaining for the similarities in behavior of humans and nonhumans. Carruthers bases these claims on his version of a dispositionalist higher-order thought (DHOT) theory of consciousness which allows that much of human behavior is the result of first-order beliefs that need not be conscious, and that prima facie judgments about (...) the importance of consciousness are due to confabulation. We argue briefly against his claim that 'the moral landscape can remain unchanged' even if all or nearly all nonhuman animals are taken to be incapable of conscious experience. We then show how a first-order representational (FOR) theory of consciousness might be defended against Carruthers' criticisms. Finally, we argue that Carruthers' appeal to confabulation undercuts his own arguments for an evolutionary explanation for consciousness, posing a greater epiphenomenalist threat to his DHOT theory than he concedes. (shrink)
In this brief, we argue that there is a diversity of ways in which humans (Homo sapiens) are ‘persons’ and there are no non-arbitrary conceptions of ‘personhood’ that can include all humans and exclude all nonhuman animals. To do so we describe and assess the four most prominent conceptions of ‘personhood’ that can be found in the rulings concerning Kiko and Tommy, with particular focus on the most recent decision, Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc v Lavery.
This is a Letter to Editor of _Pain_ recommending revision of a pain term ('nociplastic pain') recently added to the IASP Pain Terms. (With a response from the Taxonomy Committee, Eva Kosek et al. PAIN: June 2018 - Volume 159 - Issue 6 - p 1177–1178.
We submit this brief in support of the Nonhuman Rights Project’s efforts to secure habeas corpus relief for the elephant named Happy. The Supreme Court, Bronx County, declined to grant habeas corpus relief and order Happy’s transfer to an elephant sanctuary, relying, in part, on previous decisions that denied habeas relief for the NhRP’s chimpanzee clients, Kiko and Tommy. Those decisions use incompatible conceptions of ‘person’ which, when properly understood, are either philosophically inadequate or, in fact, compatible with Happy’s personhood.
Growing awareness of the ethical implications of neuroscience in the early years of the 21st century led to the emergence of the new academic field of “neuroethics,” which studies the ethical implications of developments in the neurosciences. However, despite the acceleration and evolution of neuroscience research on nonhuman animals, the unique ethical issues connected with neuroscience research involving nonhuman animals remain underdiscussed. This is a significant oversight given the central place of animal models in neuroscience. To respond to these concerns, (...) the Center for Neuroscience and Society and the Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society at the University of Pennsylvania hosted a workshop on the “Neuroethics of Animal Research” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the workshop, expert speakers and attendees discussed ethical issues arising from neuroscience research involving nonhuman animals, including the use of animal models in the study of pain and psychiatric conditions, animal brain-machine interfaces, animal–animal chimeras, cerebral organoids, and the relevance of neuroscience to debates about personhood. This paper highlights important emerging ethical issues based on the discussions at the workshop. This paper includes recommendations for research in the United States from the authors based on the discussions at the workshop, loosely following the format of the 2 Gray Matters reports on neuroethics published by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. (shrink)