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


We appreciate the goals of Mikhalevich & Powell (M&P) and largely agree with their conclusions but we differ on some of their definitions and terms. Affects (emotional feelings) should be part of sentience. Although the evidence presented for insect sentience is strong, we list some of the counterevidence that should be considered. Our own research supports M&P’s choice of arthropods, cephalopods, and vertebrates as the only sentient organisms with moral status.

Author Biography

Jon Mallatt, Clinical Associate Professor, WWAMI Medical Education Program, University of Idaho, does research on the origin of the major animal groups, especially vertebrates, and on the evolution and nature of consciousness. Website

Todd E. Feinberg, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai does research on how the neurobiology of the brain creates consciousness and the individual’s sense of identity. Website