Planning for the Future

Do Animals Have a Time-Relative Interest in Continuing to Live?

Are animals mentally stuck in the present, unable to think beyond the here and now, or are they mental time travelers, capable of planning ahead in time? And why should this matter to us?
“Planning for the Future” provides a thorough conceptual clarification of the most important but ambiguously used concepts in the debate and differentiates between two types of planning. In analyzing several influential studies with birds and apes, the book concludes that there is indeed evidence for anticipatory planning in some animals, but not for strategic planning so far. In a chapter of its own, ethical consequences regarding the wrongness of killing animals from utilitarian and animal rights perspectives are laid out. Do at least some animals have a strong interest in continuing to live? Should they even be ascribed with a right not to be killed? And why might the awareness of our own mortality hinder us in finding answers?

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Felicitas Selter received her doctorate in 2018 with the above-mentioned work. She is currently a research assistant at the Institute for History, Ethics and Philosophy of Medicine at the Hannover Medical School.