Thursday, October 19th
Irina Mikhalevich (Philosophy, RIT)
"Minds Without Spines: Towards a More Comprehensive Animal Ethics"
Invertebrate animals comprise roughly 95% of all animal species and over 99.99% of all extant animals, yet they have been largely ignored within philosophical accounts of animal rights and animal welfare. To the extent that ‘invertebrates’ are discussed in the animal ethics literature, they are typically lumped into a single undifferentiated category despite their remarkable diversity, and subsequently excluded from subject-centered moral consideration and experimental welfare protections (with a recent exception for octopuses). Recent developments in comparative cognition research, however, suggest the presence of sophisticated cognitive abilities in many invertebrates, and comparative neurobiology is beginning to reveal how the ‘alien’ brains of these animals can give rise to cognition and, perhaps, consciousness. At the same time, conceptual and methodological problems in animal cognition science result in significant uncertainties about the presence of complex cognition in animals generally and invertebrates in particular, and it is unclear how these scientific uncertainties should affect our ethical analyses. The present talk lays the foundation for a more comprehensive, inclusive and scientifically engaged animal ethics – one that responds both to the novel scientific evidence and to the philosophical challenges that confront the study of the animal mind.
FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Interpreters provided upon request & subject to availability.
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