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


Mikhalevich & Powell provide convincing empirical evidence that at least some invertebrates are sentient and hence should be granted moral status. I agree and argue that functional markers should be the primary indicators of sentience. Neuroanatomical homologies provide only secondary evidence. Consensus regarding the validity of these functional markers will be difficult to achieve. To be effective in practice, functional markers of sentience will have to be tested and accepted species by species to overcome the implicit biases against extending moral status to invertebrates.

Author Biography

Michael L. Woodruff is Professor Emeritus of Biomedical Sciences in the Quillen College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University. His current research interests include cognitive neuroscience and the philosophy of mind. Website