I had a neurology-based prof who told us much the same. Actually he would delight in telling us that invertebrates weren’t covered under laws that dictate proper scientific codes of conduct and animal abuse (I’m not familiar with these laws obviously) before directing us to crack open live clams and watch their beating hearts.
I get that insects and invertebrates might suffer less than vertebrates would under the same conditions (especially when consciousness is considered), but it’s ridiculous to act as insects aren’t aware of damage being done to them in analogous ways (even if those ways aren’t the same pain feelings we experience). And what is pain, really, but an indicator of damage?
That’s not to say that I’m opposed to using inverts/any animals for science. I’m not even opposed to using insects before using other animals who experience pain more intensely. But to justify killing insects/inverts ON THEIR OWN by their relative ability to feel pain, I think, is silly.
I hope that made any sense at all. I realize you said ‘moraly permissible alternative’ and that totally validates what you’re saying with regards to lab testing. But I think that when we’re just looking at insects (for pinning, for the morality of squashing them, blahblah), we should acknowledge that they are at least ‘aware’ of damage being done to them.
I’d like some help deciding what to do here:
Last fall I worked on a project pinning/identifying insects. I learned much more than I ever have by observation alone, and I’m considering beginning a collection of my own.
THE PROBLEM is that I’m sort of morally opposed to killing insects. When I look at an insect, I see both the species and the individual, and I recognize that that individual has its own life. I can logic out that killing the individual is OK in terms of population stability and community dynamics blahblahblah, but there’s still a life being taken - and I can’t quite value my personal learning over somebody else’s life, can I?
I know this sounds sappy, but it’s not. My morals are based in cost-benefit analysis, I swear. I’m just ambiguous about this. I WANT to collect them to learnlearnlearn and starestarestare. But without the justification of an actual study being done, I just can’t bring myself to put anybody in the killing jar.
For you bug collectors - how do you justify it? I’ve heard justification at the population level, but I feel those don’t apply when it’s only a single person gaining benefits from the death (as opposed to “in the name of science that can be used to help better understand/protect that individual’s population/species”). So how do you justify killing for your own personal/amateur collections?