Philosophical Background of Attitudes Toward and Treatment of Invertebrates
Mather, Jennifer A
ILAR journal / National Research Council, Institute of Laboratory Animal Resources 2011; 52(2): 205-12
People who interact with or make decisions about invertebrate animals have an attitude toward them, although they may not have consciously worked it out. Three philosophical approaches underlie this attitude. The first is the contractarian, which basically contends that animals are only automata and that we humans need not concern ourselves with their welfare except for our own good, because cruelty and neglect demean us. A second approach is the utilitarian, which focuses on gains versus losses in interactions between animals, including humans. Given the sheer numbers of invertebrates-they constitute 99% of the animals on the planet- this attitude implicitly requires concern for them and consideration in particular of whether they can feel pain. Third is the rights-based approach, which focuses on humans-treatment of animals by calling for an assessment of their quality of life in each human-animal interaction. Here scholars debate to what extent different animals have self-awareness or even consciousness, which may dictate our treatment of them. 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.
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