Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

Commentary Type

Invited Commentary


Birch develops a useful framework for determining when the Animal Sentience Precautionary Principle (ASPP) should be invoked. He rightly notes that there is a lack of agreement among social scientists, ethicists, and legislators even about whether the precautionary principle is useful, let alone when and how it should be implemented. His proposal is to establish a kind of cognitive threshold, and only when an animal shows a sufficient level of sentience would the ASPP be appropriate. From the point of view of the Cellular Basis of Consciousness model (Reber, 2016), all animals are sentient. If correct, the problems Birch identifies need to be confronted from a different perspective.

Author Biography

Arthur S. Reber is Broeklundian Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, Brooklyn College and Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and currently Visiting Professor, Psychology, University of British Columbia. His research is on implicit learning, the process through which knowledge about the world about us is picked up largely independently of awareness of both the process and products of that learning. http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/userhome/psych/areber/