Franks sometimes has misgivings about the emphasis placed on experimentation with animal brains. Even as scientists learn more about the depth of animal thoughts and feelings, they continue to treat animals as means to human ends. It’s a concern shared by Lori Marino, whose research led to her present role as an animal advocate and activist, marshalling the science to argue for better ethics. “There’s a lot of stuff I’d like to know,” says Marino, “but I’m not going to kill a dolphin or stick electrodes in their brains or do invasive work just because I want to satisfy my curiosity.”
This quote is from a fascinating article about what humans think other animals are thinking: “Animal Minds“. It should come as no surprise to you, if you read this blog, that I think the danger of not anthropomorphising far outweighs the danger of doing so. If the worst we can say of thinking, for example, that rats are capable of empathy is that it is unscientific, then to me it’s worth perpetuating the idea, if only to save a few rats from being tortured—er, I mean, having experiments run on them.
One of the ideas debated in the article is whether or not crows can use syntax. I think it would be cool to learn that they can, but either way, it should be obvious that they’re not simply Cartesian machines, i.e. things. As such, they deserve respect, no?