Abnormal behavior and the self-regulation of motivational state

Although most abnormal behaviors, including all stereotypies, indicate poor welfare, some that occur in rare situations are functional and do not indicate a negative situation. There is a wide range of abnormal behaviors that occur in conditions where the animal’s needs are not met, and these can be valuable welfare indicators, but these should never […]

Science-based assessment of animal welfare: farm animals

Animal welfare is to do with the feelings experienced by animals: the absence of strong negative feelings, usually called suffering, and (probably) the presence of positive feelings, usually called pleasure. In any assessment of welfare, it is these feelings that should be assessed. Because feelings are subjective, they cannot be investigated directly. However, there are […]

Welfare assessment and relevant ethical decisions: Key concepts

Animal welfare is the subject of rapidly increasing concern in most countries in the world and this concern is resulting in changes in the ways in which animal users keep and treat animals. The welfare of an individual is its state as regards its attempts to cope with its environment. This includes the state of […]

Cognitive ability and awareness in domestic animals and decisions about obligations to animals

Observation of behaviour, especially social behaviour, and experimental studies of learning and brain function give us information about the complexity of concepts that animals have. In order to learn to obtain a resource or carry out an action, domestic animals may: relate stimuli such as human words to the reward, perform sequences of actions including […]

Philosophical debate on the nature of well-being: Implications for animal welfare

There has been much consideration of well-being in philosophy, especially of human well-being, which contributes to our understanding of animal welfare. Three common approaches to well-being are presented here, which map approximately onto three possible ideas about animal welfare. Perfectionism and other forms of ‘objective list’ theories suggest that there are various values that should […]

Quality of life means welfare: How is it related to other concepts and assessed?

Our view of which individuals should be the subjects of our moral actions is expanding to include more people and more species. Animal welfare is the subject of rapidly increasing concern in most countries in the world, and this concern is resulting in changes in the ways in which animal users keep and treat animals. […]

Scientific approaches to animal consciousness

In a marked departure from past inhibitions about scientific consideration of conscious mental states in animals, the other papers in this symposium review a variety of evidence about what the content of animal consciousness is likely to be. Although fully convincing evidence is not yet available, there are promising opportunities to reduce our current ignorance […]

The changing concept of animal sentience

A brief history of the concept of sentience is given. It is pointed out that the idea of sentience, at least in the mammals and birds, was accepted by lay people by the time of the Renaissance and before it was acknowledged by philosophers. It was not until the Enlightenment of the 18th century that […]

Using preference, motivation and aversion tests to ask scientific questions about animals’ feelings

The past 30 years has seen an increased willingness for scientists to assess the subjective experiences of animals. There are good reasons to believe that domesticated animals are sentient beings, capable of having feelings. The study of feelings is central to the assessment of animal welfare. Feelings are not directly observable, but have measurable correlates […]

Anthropomorphism and ‘mental welfare’ of fishes

Anthropomorphism, the use of human characteristics as a foundation for interpreting behavior and mental capacities of animals, is a bias undermining our understanding of other species, especially species as evolutionarily distant from humans as fishes. Anthropomorphism is not justified by allusions to evolutionary continuity among vertebrates, because no living vertebrate was ever a descendant of […]