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Irina Mikhalevich and Russell Powell, Minds without spines: Evolutionarily inclusive animal ethics


Each of the criteria for determining which should be given moral standing has its shortcomings. The criterion of cognitive is especially weak. That research on comparative cognition may default to the simplest account is not grounds for abandoning this scientific practice. Instead, we should dissociate scientific evidence of cognitive ability from moral obligation. In addition to the criteria suggested by Mikhalevich & Powell for including species in welfare protections, I would suggest a very old one — the ability to physically move.

Author Biography

Thomas R. Zentall, University of Kentucky Research Professor, is a comparative cognitive psychologist who studies the relation between the behavior of humans and other animals in gambling, imitation, concept learning, transitive inference, and object permanence. Website