A Virtue of Precaution Regarding the Moral Status of Animals with Uncertain Sentience

  title={A Virtue of Precaution Regarding the Moral Status of Animals with Uncertain Sentience},
  author={Simon Knutsson and Christian Munthe},
  journal={Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics},
  • Simon Knutsson, C. Munthe
  • Published 17 May 2017
  • Philosophy, Psychology
  • Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
We address the moral importance of fish, invertebrates such as crustaceans, snails and insects, and other animals about which there is qualified scientific uncertainty about their sentience. We argue that, on a sentientist basis, one can at least say that how such animals fare make ethically significant claims on our character. It is a requirement of a morally decent (or virtuous) person that she at least pays attention to and is cautious regarding the possibly morally relevant aspects of such… 
Animal welfare is an important concern in modern society. The most common ethical underpinning of animal welfare is the concept of sentience. However, there is no agreement yet on the definition of
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Welfare of aquatic animals: where things are, where they are going, and what it means for research, aquaculture, recreational angling, and commercial fishing
We revisit the evidence attributing sentience-pain-suffering to aquatic animals. The objective is to inform readers of the current state of affairs, to direct attention to where research is needed,
New Omnivorism: a Novel Approach to Food and Animal Ethics
New omnivorism is a term coined by Andy Lamey to refer to arguments that – paradoxically – our duties towards animals require us to eat some animal products. Lamey’s claim to have identified a new,
Welfare of farmed insects
  • A. van Huis
  • Biology
    Journal of Insects as Food and Feed
  • 2021
This work discusses insects’ sentience by looking at their brain, behaviour, and communicative abilities, and concludes that insects should be farmed and killed using the precautionary principle, which assumes that they can experience pain.
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Would the virtuous person eat animals? According to some ethicists, the answer is a resounding no, at least for the virtuous person living in an affluent society. The virtuous person cares about
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There is a great need for research in the area of insect welfare, especially regarding species-specific needs, health, farming systems and humane methods of killing, according to recent results from neurophysiological, neuroanatomical and behavioral sciences.
Moral uncertainty and the farming of human-pig chimeras
In this paper, it is shown how that the same style of argument can be used to critique current uses of non-chimeric pigs in agriculture, revealing an important tension between two common moral views: that farming human-pig chimeras for their organs is ethically concerning, and that farming non-youthful pigs for food or research is ethetically benign.
Welfare of farmed insects
  • A. Huis
  • Biology
    Journal of Insects as Food and Feed
  • 2019
It is concluded that in insect farming the authors need to treat insects as sentient beings, given the large number of farmed insects needed for food or feed.


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An ethic is proposed which states that, the authors ought to refrain from actions which may be reasonably expected to kill or cause nontrivial pain in insects when avoiding these actions has no, or only trivial, costs to their own welfare.
Expanding the moral circle: farmed fish as objects of moral concern.
The most common animal ethics theories are presented and it is concluded that farmed fish should be given the benefit of the doubt and made efforts that their welfare needs are met as well as possible.
Ethical Extensionism under Uncertainty of Sentience: Duties to Non-Human Organisms without Drawing a Line
Ethical extensionism generally involves drawing one or more lines of moral standing. I argue (i) for all living organisms, there is a non-zero probability of sentience and consciousness, and (ii) we
Philosophical background of attitudes toward and treatment of invertebrates.
Regardless of the philosophical approach to invertebrates, information and education about their lives are critical to an understanding of how humans ought to treat them.
Invertebrate welfare: an overlooked issue.
Evidence is provided that the topic of invertebrate welfare should be revisited, more thoroughly investigated, and in cases where appropriate, formally instituted.
The invertebrate groups most likely to be considered sentient, other than cephalopod molluscs and decapod Crustacea which are reviewed in other papers, are discussed.
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Other things being equal, (3) is the course of action which would bring about less harm for those involved. However, many people, even among those who are concerned with nonhuman animals suffering,
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  • Biology, Environmental Science
    The Journal of Experimental Biology
  • 2015
How aquatic animals may differ in their neurobiological and behavioural responses to injurious stimuli compared with terrestrial animals is discussed, which has interesting implications for the evolution of pain.