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Gary Comstock [25]Gary Lynn Comstock [1]Gary L. Comstock [1]
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Gary Comstock
North Carolina State University
  1. Chimpanzee Rights: The Philosophers' Brief.Kristin Andrews, Gary Comstock, G. K. D. Crozier, Sue Donaldson, Andrew Fenton, Tyler John, L. Syd M. Johnson, Robert Jones, Will Kymlicka, Letitia Meynell, Nathan Nobis, David M. Pena-Guzman & Jeff Sebo - 2018 - London: Routledge.
    In December 2013, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) filed a petition for a common law writ of habeas corpus in the New York State Supreme Court on behalf of Tommy, a chimpanzee living alone in a cage in a shed in rural New York (Barlow, 2017). Under animal welfare laws, Tommy’s owners, the Laverys, were doing nothing illegal by keeping him in those conditions. Nonetheless, the NhRP argued that given the cognitive, social, and emotional capacities of chimpanzees, Tommy’s confinement constituted (...)
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  2.  95
    Why the Court Should Free Happy.Gary Comstock, Adam Lerner & Peter Singer - 2022 - Inside Sources.
    Should the law recognize an elephant’s right to be released from solitary confinement? The New York State Court of Appeals—the highest court in the State of New York—will consider this question on May 18. At issue is an Asian elephant named Happy. But happy she is not. Every human being has a right to bodily liberty because they have strong interests that this right protects. Since Happy has the same strong interests, the Court should recognize Happy’s right to be freed (...)
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  3. Ethics and Genetically Modified Foods.Gary Comstock - 2001 - In David M. Kaplan (ed.), The Philosophy of Food. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. pp. 122-139.
    Gary Comstock considers whether it is ethically justified to pursue genetically modified (GM) crops and foods. He first considers intrinsic objections to GM crops that allege that the process of making GMOs is objectionable in itself. He argues that there is no justifiable basis for the objections — i.e. GM crops are not intrinsically ethically problematic. He then considers extrinsic objections to GM crops, including objections based on the precautionary principle, which focus on the potential harms that may result from (...)
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  4. Do Machines Have Prima Facie Duties?Gary Comstock - 2015 - In Machine Medical Ethics. London: Springer. pp. 79-92.
    A properly programmed artificially intelligent agent may eventually have one duty, the duty to satisfice expected welfare. We explain this claim and defend it against objections.
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  5. Far-Persons.Gary Comstock - 2017 - In Andrew Woodhall & Gabriel Garmendia da Trindade (eds.), Ethical and Political Approaches to Nonhuman Animal Issues. London: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 39-71.
    I argue for the moral relevance of a category of individuals I characterize as far-persons. Following Gary Varner, I distinguish near-persons, animals with a " robust autonoetic consciousness " but lacking an adult human's " biographical sense of self, " from the merely sentient, those animals living "entirely in the present." I note the possibility of a third class. Far-persons lack a biographical sense of self, possess a weak autonoetic consciousness, and are able to travel mentally through time a distance (...)
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  6.  32
    A Brief in Support of Happy’s Appeal.Peter Singer, Gary Comstock & Adam Lerner - 2022 - Nonhuman Rights Project.
    We present ethical reasons that the court should grant the Nonhuman Rights Project’s (NhRP) request for habeas corpus relief for Happy, an elephant. Happy has a basic interest in not being confined, an interest that should be legally protected just as the human interest in not being confined is legally protected. Since the decision in The Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. v Breheny failed to weigh Happy’s interests properly, we ask this body to correct the error.
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  7. Concerning Cattle: Behavioral and Neuroscientific Evidence for Pain, Desire, and Self-Consciousness.Gary Comstock - 2017 - In Anne Barnhill, Mark Budolfson & Tyler Doggett (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Food Ethics. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 139-169.
    Should people include beef in their diet? This chapter argues that the answer is “no” by reviewing what is known and not known about the presence in cattle of three psychological traits: pain, desire, and self-consciousness. On the basis of behavioral and neuroanatomical evidence, the chapter argues that cattle are sentient beings who have things they want to do in the proximal future, but they are not self-conscious. The piece rebuts three important objections: that cattle have injury information but not (...)
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  8. Getting It Together: Psychological Unity and Deflationary Accounts of Animal Metacognition.Gary Comstock & William A. Bauer - 2018 - Acta Analytica 33 (4):431-451.
    Experimenters claim some nonhuman mammals have metacognition. If correct, the results indicate some animal minds are more complex than ordinarily presumed. However, some philosophers argue for a deflationary reading of metacognition experiments, suggesting that the results can be explained in first-order terms. We agree with the deflationary interpretation of the data but we argue that the metacognition research forces the need to recognize a heretofore underappreciated feature in the theory of animal minds, which we call Unity. The disparate mental states (...)
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  9. The Case Against bGH.Gary Comstock - 1988 - Agriculture and Human Values 5 (3):36-52.
    In the voluminous literature on the subject of bovine growth hormone (bGH) we have yet to find an attempt to frame the issue in specifically moral terms or to address systematically its ethical implications. I argue that there are two moral objections to the technology: its treatment of animals, and its dislocating effects on farmers. There are agricultural biotechnologies that deserve funding and support. bGH is not one of them.
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  10.  85
    The Philosophers' Brief in Support of Happy's Appeal.Gary Comstock, Sue Donaldson, Andrew Fenton, Tyler M. John, L. Syd M. Johnson, Robert C. Jones, Will Kymlicka, Letitia M. Meynell, Nathan Nobis, David M. Peña-Guzmán, James Rocha, Bernard Rollin, Jeff Sebo & Adam Shriver - 2021 - New York State Appellate Court.
    We submit this brief in support of the Nonhuman Rights Project’s efforts to secure habeas corpus relief for the elephant named Happy. The Supreme Court, Bronx County, declined to grant habeas corpus relief and order Happy’s transfer to an elephant sanctuary, relying, in part, on previous decisions that denied habeas relief for the NhRP’s chimpanzee clients, Kiko and Tommy. Those decisions use incompatible conceptions of ‘person’ which, when properly understood, are either philosophically inadequate or, in fact, compatible with Happy’s personhood.
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  11.  11
    Pain in Pleocyemata, but Not in Dendrobranchiata?Gary Comstock - 2022 - Animal Sentience 32(13).
    Crump et al.’s contribution to assessing whether decapods feel pain raises an important question: Is pain distributed unevenly across the order? The case for pain appears stronger in Pleocyemata than in Dendrobranchiata. Some studies report pain avoidance behaviors in Dendrobranchiata (Penaeidae) shrimp, but further studies are needed to determine whether the chemicals used are acting as analgesics to relieve pain, or as soporifics to reduce overall alertness. If the latter, the most farmed shrimp species may not require the same level (...)
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  12. Genetically Modified Foods: Golden Rice.Kristen Hessler, Ross Whetten, Carol Loopstra, Sharon Shriver, Karen Pesaresi Penner, Robert Zeigler, Jacqueline Fletcher, Melanie Torre & Gary Comstock - 2010 - In Gary Comstock (ed.), Life Science Ethics, 2nd. ed. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 387-397.
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  13. The Philosophers' Brief on Chimpanzee Personhood.Kristin Andrews, Gary Comstock, Gillian Crozier, Sue Donaldson, Andrew Fenton, Tyler John, L. Syd M. Johnson, Robert Jones, Will Kymlicka, Letitia Meynell, Nathan Nobis, David Pena-Guzman, James Rocha, Bernard Rollin, Jeff Sebo, Adam Shriver & Rebecca Walker - 2018 - Proposed Brief by Amici Curiae Philosophers in Support of the Petitioner-Appelllant Court of Appeals, State of New York,.
    In this brief, we argue that there is a diversity of ways in which humans (Homo sapiens) are ‘persons’ and there are no non-arbitrary conceptions of ‘personhood’ that can include all humans and exclude all nonhuman animals. To do so we describe and assess the four most prominent conceptions of ‘personhood’ that can be found in the rulings concerning Kiko and Tommy, with particular focus on the most recent decision, Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc v Lavery.
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  14. What Do We Need to Know to Know That Animals Are Conscious of What They Know?Gary Comstock - 2019 - Animal Behavior and Cognition 6 (4):289-308.
    In this paper I argue for the following six claims: 1) The problem is that some think metacognition and consciousness are dissociable. 2) The solution is not to revive associationist explanations; 3) …nor is the solution to identify metacognition with Carruthers’ gatekeeping mechanism. 4) The solution is to define conscious metacognition; 5) … devise an empirical test for it in humans; and 6) … apply it to animals.
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  15. Truth or Meaning: Ricoeur Versus Frei on Biblical Narrative.Gary Comstock - 1986 - Journal of Religion 66 (2):117-140.
    Of the theologians and philosophers now writing on biblical narrative, Hans Frei and Paul Ricoeur are probably the most prominent. It is significant that their views converge on important issues. Both are uncomfortable with hermeneutic theories that convert the text into an abstract philosophical system, an ideal typological structure, or a mere occasion for existential decision. Frei and Ricoeur seem knit together in a common enterprise; they appear to be building a single narrative theology. I argue that the appearance of (...)
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  16. Bovine Prospection, the Mesocorticolimbic Pathways, and Neuroethics: Is a Cow’s Future Like Ours?Gary Comstock - 2020 - In L. Syd M. Johnson, Andrew Fenton & Adam Shriver (eds.), Neuroethics and Nonhuman Animals. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. pp. 73-97.
    What can neuroscience tell us, if anything, about the capacities of cows to think about the future? The question is important if having the right to a future requires the ability to think about one’s future. To think about one’s future involves the mental state of prospection, in which we direct our attention to things yet to come. I distinguish several kinds of prospection, identify the behavioral markers of future thinking, and survey what is known about the neuroanatomy of future-directed (...)
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  17. Harming Some to Enhance Others.Gary Comstock - 2015 - In Simon Bateman, Jean Gayon, Sylvie Allouche, Jerome Goffette & Michela Marzano (eds.), Inquiring into Animal Enhancement. London: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 49-78.
    Let us call the deliberate modification of an individual’s genome to improve it or its progeny intentional genetic enhancement. Governments are almost certain to require that any proposed intentional genetic enhancement of a human (IGEH) be tested first on (what researchers call) animal “models.” Intentional genetic enhancement of animals (IGEA), then, is an ambiguous concept because it could mean one of two very different things: an enhancement made for the sake of the animal’s own welfare, or an enhancement made for (...)
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  18. Nonhuman Self-Investment Value.Gary Comstock - manuscript
    Guardians of companion animals killed wrongfully in the U.S. historically receive compensatory judgments reflecting the animal’s economic value. As animals are property in torts law, this value typically is the animal’s fair market value—which is often zero. But this is only the animal’s value, as it were, to a stranger and, in light of the fact that many guardians value their animals at rates far in excess of fair market value, legislatures and courts have begun to recognize a second value, (...)
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  19.  66
    Should We Genetically Engineer Hogs?Gary Comstock - 1992 - Between the Species 8 (4):5.
    The paper argues that we should not genetically engineer hogs to suit the preferences of farmers and consumers.
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  20. La Mettrie's Objection: Humans Act Like Animals.Gary Comstock - 2016 - In Gary Comstock & Mylan Engel Jr (eds.), The Moral Rights of Animals. Lanham, MD: Lexington. pp. 175-198.
    A common view of nonhuman animals is that they lack rights because they lack conscious control over themselves. Two thoughts put pressure on this view. First, we recognize the rights of radically cognitively limited humans even though they lack conscious control over themselves. So it would seem mere prejudice to deny rights to nonhuman mammals on the grounds that animals lack autonomy. Tom Regan has been the most eloquent, powerful, and resolute defender of this thought. Second, evidence is growing that (...)
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  21. The Cattle in the Long Cedar Springs Draw.Gary Comstock - 2019 - In Nandita Batra & Mario Wenning (eds.), The Human–Animal Boundary Exploring the Line in Philosophy and Fiction. Lanham: Lexington Books. pp. 97-114.
    The argument for vegetarianism from overlapping species goes like this. Every individual who is the subject of a life has a right to life. Some humans—e.g., the severely congenitally cognitively limited—lack language, rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness, and yet they are subjects of a life. Severely congenitally cognitively limited humans have a right to life. Some animals—e.g., all mammals—lack language, rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness, and yet they are subjects of a life. We ought to treat like cases alike. The cases of (...)
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  22. The Moral Irrelevance of Autonomy.Gary Comstock - 1992 - Between the Species 8 (1):4.
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  23.  51
    Review of Gary Varner, Personhood, Ethics, and Animal Cognition: Situating Animals in Hare’s Two-Level Utilitarianism. [REVIEW]Gary Comstock - 2013 - Environmental Values 22 (3):417-420.
    With his 1998 book, In Nature’s Interests? Gary Varner proved to be one of our most original and trenchant of environmental ethicists. Here, in the first of a promised two volume set, he makes his mark on another field, animal ethics, leaving an even deeper imprint. Thoroughly grounded in the relevant philosophical and scientific literatures, Varner is as precise in analysis as he is wide-ranging in scope. His writing is clear and rigorous, and he explains philosophical nuances with extraordinary economy (...)
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  24.  60
    Is Postmodern Religious Dialogue Possible?Gary L. Comstock - 1989 - Faith and Philosophy 6 (2):189-197.
    Not long ago, interreligious conversations were regulated by the ideals of truth, goodness, and beauty. We are suspicious of these noble sounding ideals today. In a world of liberation theology, feminist criticism, and the hermeneutics of suspicion, can there be any new, “postmodern,” rules to govern our religious dialogues? Not able to consult any general theory, or “metanarrative,” in order to provide the answer, I simply tell the story of the only postmodern Catholic I have ever known. On the basis (...)
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  25. Pigs and Piety: A Theocentric Perspective on Food Animals.Gary Comstock - 1992 - Between the Species 8 (3):3.
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  26.  83
    The Moral Rights of Animals.Mylan Engel & Gary Lynn Comstock (eds.) - 2016 - Lanham, MD: Lexington.
    This volume brings together essays by seminal figures and rising stars in the fields of animal ethics and moral theory to analyze and evaluate the moral status of non-human animals, with a special focus on the question of whether or not animals have moral rights. Though wide-ranging in many ways, these fourteen original essays and one reprinted essay direct significant attention to both the main arguments for animal rights and the biggest challenges to animal rights. This volume explores the question (...)
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