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


Welfare protections for vertebrates are grounded in the belief that vertebrates are sentient and capable of feeling whereas invertebrates are not. We agree with Mikhalevich & Powell that the exclusion of small-brained invertebrates from bioethics is not warranted by the current state of the scientific evidence. The choice to promote protection for certain invertebrates should be based on the Animal Sentience Precautionary Principle (ASPP). This principle should not prevent us from conducting experimental research with non-human animals to advance knowledge. However, we believe that it is important to outline practical guidelines to manage the wellbeing of invertebrates, while accumulating further evidence on their inner life.

Author Biography

David Baracchi, Assistant Professor, Zoology, University of Florence, studies social insect behavior from a cognitive ecology perspective: how cognitive processes mediate economic decisions and adaptive behaviors in bees and wasps. Website

Luigi Baciadonna is a Post-Doctoral Researcher, Queen Mary University of London, and visiting fellow, University of Cambridge. His research is on the expression and perception of emotions in non-human animals, how consciousness evolved and whether non-human animals are self-aware. Website