Birch, Jonathan (2017) Refining the precautionary framework. Animal Sentience 16(20)
Jonathan Birch, Animal sentience and the precautionary principle
Most of the commentators so far agree that the precautionary principle can be usefully applied to the question of animal sentience. I consider various ways of refining my proposals in light of the suggestions. I amend BAR to implement C. Brown’s suggestion that the scope of animal welfare law should be extensible by phylogenetic inference from orders in which credible indicators of sentience are found. In response to C. Brown, Mallatt, and Woodruff, I amend ACT to allow that a single credible indicator may sometimes call for urgent further investigation rather than immediate protection. In response to Paez, I amend ACT to clarify that cost-effective measures to safeguard the welfare of animals that satisfy BAR should be included in any legislation relevant to their treatment in any domain of human activity. I consider and decline other suggestions, including Browning’s suggestion that BAR should admit anecdotal evidence. I resist the charges that my proposals yield inconsistent advice or amount to “fiddling while Rome burns.” I argue that my proposals support the inclusion of decapod crustaceans in animal welfare law but do not (contra Reber) support the inclusion of microbes.