Misadventures of Sentience: Animals and the Basis of Equality

This paper aims to put in question the all-purposes function that sentience has come to play in animal ethics. In particular, I criticize the idea that sentience can provide a sound basis of equality, as has been recently proposed by Alasdair Cochrane. Sentience seems to eschew the standard problems of egalitarian accounts that are based […]

Given the Cold Shoulder: A Review of the Scientific Literature for Evidence of Reptile Sentience

We searched a selection of the scientific literature to document evidence for, and explorations into reptile sentience. The intention of this review was to highlight; (1) to what extent reptile capability for emotions have been documented in the scientific literature; (2) to discuss the implications this evidence has for the trade in reptiles; and (3) […]

Summoning compassion to address the challenges of conservation

Conservation practice is informed by science, but it also reflects ethical beliefs about how humanity ought to value and interact with Earth’s biota. As human activities continue to drive extinctions and diminish critical life-sustaining ecosystem processes, achieving conservation goals becomes increasingly urgent. However, the determination to react decisively can drive conservationists to handle complex challenges […]

We demand compromise: which achieves more, asking for small or large changes?

Welfare is the state of an animal on a continuum, from poor to good, so many decisions about it are decisions of degree, such as how much feed, space or environmental enrichment should be provided. Other decisions are more discrete, such as whether animals should be kept in cages. However, in practice, many such decisions […]

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 […]

The assessment and implementation of animal welfare: theory into practice.

This paper reviews the procedures and protocols necessary for the development of a practical programme for the assessment and implementation of animal welfare on farms and in other commercial situations. An effective programme must incorporate measures of both husbandry and welfare. Most current systems are based almost entirely on measures of husbandry provision, e.g. resources […]

Zoomorphism and anthropomorphism: fruitful fallacies?

Zoo- and anthropomorphism may both be scientific heresies but both may serve as a basis for thought (and real) experiments designed to explore our ability to assess quality of life as perceived by another sentient animal. Sentience, a major contributor to evolutionary fitness in a complex environment, implies ‘feelings that matter’. Strength of motivation is […]

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 […]

Ethology applied to animal ethics

According to modern animal welfare legislation, animals should be protected from suffering and lasting harm not for the benefit of us humans as in earlier anthropocentric conceptions, but in their own interest. The driving force behind animal protection is our empathy with animals which triggers feelings of compassion. Empathy with animals most likely is a […]

Cognitive ethology and the treatment of non-human animals: How matters of mind inform matters of welfare

Anthropocentric claims about the ways in which non-human animals (hereafter animals) interact in their social and non-social worlds are often used to influence decisions on how animals can or should be used by humans in various sorts of activities. Thus, the treatment of individuals is often tightly linked to how they are perceived with respect […]