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A Duty to Cognitively Enhance Animals

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In this article I argue that humans have a pro tanto duty to cognitively enhance some animals threatened with extinction. I will use as a case study a particular set of animals: smaller Australian marsupials. Many of these animals are on the brink of extinction thanks to the introduction of the fox and the domestic cat to the continent of Australia. Ecologists conjecture that these marsupials do not have the behavioural flexibility to cope with these introduced predators. By introducing predators, humans performed a wrong action because it led to the extinction of species and continues to threaten many marsupials species such as woylies, Gilbert's potoroos, numbats and mountain pygmy possums. This wrong action gives rise to an obligation to intervene to prevent further species loss. Traditional means of conservation do not seem sufficient to address this obligation; therefore, there is a duty to cognitively enhance these creatures as soon as the technology is sufficiently researched and safe.
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Keywords: Cognitive enhancement; conservation; genetic engineering; intrinsic value; species extinction

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2018

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  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2018) of 1.933. 5 Year Impact Factor: 2.493.
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