PPIG: Philosophy, Psychology, and Informatics Group

Speaker: Kristin Andrews (University of Toronto)

Title: Animal Culture and Animal Welfare

Abstract: There is now abundant evidence of culture—socially inherited patterns of behavior and information, including group-specific traditions—in a wide variety of nonhuman animals, including apes, monkeys and various terrestrial mammals, cetaceans, birds, and fish, and even evidence for some insects, such as bumblebees and fruit flies. Given that these cultural practices are part of the behavioral repertoires that influence how animal populations adapt to their respective environments, recently, prominent animal culture researchers have argued that the cultures of wild animals have important implications for conservation efforts and policies directed at preserving endangered populations. In this paper, we explore another important implication of the recognition that many species are cultural species: the bearing of animal cultures on questions of animal welfare and the ethical treatment of captive animals, especially in the context of agriculture, zoos, sanctuaries, research facilities, and various other human-managed environments. We argue that captive animals, like their wild counterparts, are cultural beings, that best practices for welfare should require concern for animals’ cultural needs, and these needs are distinguishable from their physiological and social ones. Furthermore, we consider whether the cultures of captive animals, like human cultures, should be taken to be intrinsically valuable and worthy of preservation.

Further information

We are a group of researchers from diverse backgrounds in the above-mentioned groups (and beyond) who aim to gain an interdisciplinary yet deep understanding of the threads that bind the human mind and the world. In particular, this seminar series focuses on the nature of cognition, metacognition and social cognition. We’ll be tackling questions such as, what does it mean to think? What does it mean to think about thinking? And, what does it mean to think about one’s own thinking versus thinking about the thinking of other people? Please come along!

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Contact details

Tillmann Vierkant

Oct 20 2021 -

PPIG: Philosophy, Psychology, and Informatics Group

2021-10-20: Animal Culture and Animal Welfare

Medical School Lecture Theatre G07 (Doorway 4), Medical School (Old Medical School), Teviot Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9AG