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Commentary Type

Invited Commentary


Birch’s formulation is persuasive but not nuanced enough to capture at least one situation where it is reasonable to invoke the precautionary principle (PP): when we have multiple, weak, but convergent, lines of evidence that a species is sentient, but no statistically significant evidence of a single credible indicator of sentience within the order as required by BAR. I respond to the worry that if we include such cases in our framework for applying the PP, we open ourselves to the charge of being “unscientific.”

Author Biography

Rachael L. Brown, Director of the Centre for Philosophy of the Sciences, Australian National University, works on the evolution of cognition and behaviour; the relationship between evo-devo and the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis; model-based reasoning in biology and philosophy; and methodological issues in the study of animal behaviour and cognition.