The Neuroethics of Animal Welfare

Thursday, September 22, 2016
Rm. FNH 40, Food, Nutrition & Health Building
2205 East Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4

Lecture by Adam Shriver, PhD
Visiting Fellow, The Center for Neuroscience and Society
The University of Pennsylvania

Overview: In this presentation, Dr. Shriver will provide an overview of the under-discussed intersection between neuroethics and animal welfare. He will consider new developments in applied ethics that can come from (A) what neuroscience can tell us and (B) from what neuroscience allows us to do. Regarding (A), Dr. Shriver considers a recent proposal that suggests that information from the neurosciences occupies a privileged position in arguments by analogy for the presence of mental states in nonhuman animals. He rejects the practical significance of the claim, arguing that it does not avoid the most serious epistemological challenges of arguments by analogy. Nevertheless, he argues that findings from the neurosciences, when used in combinational with results from behavioral studies, are critical for our understanding of which animals have various affective and cognitive states. Regarding (B), Dr. Shriver suggests that recent developments such as neural chimeras, animal brain machine interfaces, and the ability to genetically manipulate the nervous system present a number of new challenges and questions for applied ethicists.

Bio: Dr. Adam Shriver is an ethicist and a philosopher of cognitive science who studies the neuroscience of affective states that contribute to subjective well-being. In particular, Dr. Shriver’s research has examined the significance of the dissociation between the affective and sensory components of pain for philosophical theories of ethics and well-being. To this end, he has written about the relationship between pain and pleasure, the legal and ethical questions that arise from the search for a neural signature of pain in humans, and the capacity for suffering across different species.

A Shriver Lecture flyer