•  365
    The natural behavior debate: Two conceptions of animal welfare
    Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 23 (3): 325-337. 2020.
    The performance of natural behavior is commonly used as a criterion in the determination of animal welfare. This is still true, despite many authors having demonstrated that it is not a necessary component of welfare – some natural behaviors may decrease welfare, while some unnatural behaviors increase it. Here I analyze why this idea persists, and what effects it may have. I argue that the disagreement underlying this debate on natural behavior is not one about which conditions affect welfare, …Read more
  •  228
    If I Could Talk to the Animals: Measuring Subjective Animal Welfare
    Dissertation, Australian National University. 2019.
    Animal welfare is a concept that plays a role within both our moral deliberations and the relevant areas of science. The study of animal welfare has impacts on decisions made by legislators, producers and consumers with regards to housing and treatment of animals. Our ethical deliberations in these domains need to consider our impact on animals, and the study of animal welfare provides the information that allows us to make informed decisions. This thesis focusses on taking a philosophical persp…Read more
  •  197
    No Room at the Zoo: Management Euthanasia and Animal Welfare
    Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 31 (4): 483-498. 2018.
    The practice of ‘management euthanasia’, in which zoos kill otherwise healthy surplus animals, is a controversial one. The debate over the permissibility of the practice tends to divide along two different views in animal ethics—animal rights and animal welfare. Traditionally, those arguments against the practice have come from the animal rights camp, who see it as a violation of the rights of the animal involved. Arguments in favour come from the animal welfare perspective, who argue that as th…Read more
  •  173
    Improving invertebrate welfare
    Animal Sentience 29 (4). 2020.
    Mikhalevich & Powell (2020) argue that it is wrong, both scientifically and morally, to dismiss the evidence for sentience in invertebrates. They do not offer any examples, however, of how their welfare should be considered or improved. We draw on animal welfare science to suggest some ways that would not be excessively demanding.
  •  116
    Is Humane Slaughter Possible?
    Animals 10 (5): 799. 2020.
    One of the biggest ethical issues in animal agriculture is that of the welfare of animals at the end of their lives, during the process of slaughter. Much work in animal welfare science is focussed on finding humane ways to transport and slaughter animals, to minimise the harm done during this process. In this paper, we take a philosophical look at what it means to perform slaughter humanely, beyond simply reducing pain and suffering during the slaughter process. In particular, we will examine t…Read more
  •  114
    Won’t Somebody Please Think of the Mammoths? De-extinction and Animal Welfare
    Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 31 (6): 785-803. 2018.
    De-extinction is the process through which extinct species can be brought back into existence. Although these projects have the potential to cause great harm to animal welfare, discussion on issues surrounding de-extinction have focussed primarily on other issues. In this paper, I examine the potential types of welfare harm that can arise through de-extinction programs, including problems with cloning, captive rearing and re-introduction. I argue that welfare harm should be an important consider…Read more
  •  104
    Anecdotes can be evidence too
    Animal Sentience 2 (16): 13. 2017.
    Birch’s criterion for the precautionary principle imposes a high evidential standard that many cases will fail to meet. Reliable, relevant anecdotal evidence suggestive of animal sentience should also fall within the scope of the precautionary principle. This would minimize potential suffering (as happened in the case of cephalopods) while further evidence is gathered.
  •  65
    When making decisions about action to improve animal lives, it is important that we have accurate estimates of how much animals are suffering under different conditions. The current frameworks for making comparative estimates of suffering all fall along the lines of multiplying numbers of animals used by length of life and amount of suffering experienced. However, the numbers used to quantify suffering are usually generated through unreliable and subjective processes which make them unlikely to …Read more
  •  55
    What is it like to be a bat? What is it like to be sick? These two questions are much closer to one another than has hitherto been acknowledged. Indeed, both raise a number of related, albeit very complex, philosophical problems. In recent years, the phenomenology of health and disease has become a major topic in bioethics and the philosophy of medicine, owing much to the work of Havi Carel (2007, 2011, 2018). Surprisingly little attention, however, has been given to the phenomenology of animal …Read more
  •  52
    What is good for an octopus?
    Animal Sentience 4 (26). 2019.
    Mather (2019) has brought together the current empirical research in support of the claim that octopuses possess minds; and the weight of the evidence does appear to support octopus sentience. Being sentient means an organism has welfare concerns, a subjective experience of life that can go well or poorly. Protecting welfare requires knowing what conditions will have a positive or negative impact. Understanding what is in the mind of an octopus will give us valuable ins…Read more
  •  51
    Marino & Merskin (2019) demonstrate that sheep are more cognitively complex than typically thought. We should be cautious in interpreting the implications of these results for welfare considerations to avoid perpetuating mistaken beliefs about the moral value of intelligence as opposed to sentience. There are, however, still important ways in which this work can help improve sheeps’ lives.
  •  43
    Neural Organoids and the Precautionary Principle
    American Journal of Bioethics 21 (1): 56-58. 2021.
    Human neural organoid research is advancing rapidly. As Greely notes in the target article, this progress presents an “onrushing ethical dilemma.” We can’t rule out the possibility that suff...
  •  42
    Developing a Metric of Usable Space for Zoo Exhibits
    with Terry L. Maple
    Frontiers in Psychology 10 791. 2019.
    The size of animal exhibits has important effects on their lives and welfare. However, most references to exhibit size only consider floor space and height dimensions, without considering the space afforded by usable features within the exhibit. In this paper, we develop two possible methods for measuring the usable space of zoo exhibits and apply these to a sample exhibit. Having a metric for usable space in place will provide a better reflection of the quality of different exhibits, and enhanc…Read more
  •  34
    Freedom and animal welfare
    Animals 4 (11): 1148. 2021.
    The keeping of captive animals in zoos and aquariums has long been controversial. Many take freedom to be a crucial part of animal welfare and, on these grounds, criticise all forms of animal captivity as harmful to animal welfare, regardless of their provisions. Here, we analyse what it might mean for freedom to matter to welfare, distinguishing between the role of freedom as an intrinsic good, valued for its own sake and an instrumental good, its value arising from the increased ability to pro…Read more
  •  21
    This paper addresses what we consider to be the most pressing challenge for the emerging science of consciousness: the measurement problem of consciousness. That is, by what methods can we determine the presence of and properties of consciousness? Most methods are currently developed through evaluation of the presence of consciousness in humans and here we argue that there are particular problems in application of these methods to non-human cases - what we call the indicator validity problem and…Read more
  •  15
    In this essay, we discuss Simona Ginsburg and Eva Jablonka’s The Evolution of the Sensitive Soul from an interdisciplinary perspective. Constituting perhaps the longest treatise on the evolution of consciousness, Ginsburg and Jablonka unite their expertise in neuroscience and biology to develop a beautifully Darwinian account of the dawning of subjective experience. Though it would be impossible to cover all its content in a short book review, here we provide a critical evaluation of their two k…Read more
  •  10
    Perspectival pluralism for animal welfare
    European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (1): 1-14. 2021.
    Animal welfare has a long history of disregard. While in recent decades the study of animal welfare has become a scientific discipline of its own, the difficulty of measuring animal welfare can still be vastly underestimated. There are three primary theories, or perspectives, on animal welfare - biological functioning, natural living and affective state. These come with their own diverse methods of measurement, each providing a limited perspective on an aspect of welfare. This paper describes a …Read more
  •  10
    Why Socio-Political Beliefs Trump Individual Morality: An Evolutionary Perspective
    American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 11 (4): 290-292. 2020.