Animal Sentience


Sentience involves having some degree of awareness but awareness of self is not as complex as some people believe. Fully functioning vertebrate animals, and some invertebrates, are sentient but neither humans nor non-humans are sentient early in development or if brain-damaged. Feelings are valuable adaptive mechanisms and an important part of welfare but are not all of welfare so the term welfare refers to all animals, not just to sentient animals. We have much to learn about what non-human animals want from us, the functioning of the more complex aspects of their brains and of our brains and how we should treat animals of each species. Animal welfare science will continue to play a major part in determining how we fulfill our obligations to the animals with which we interact.

Author Biography

Donald M. Broom dmb16@cam.ac.uk is Emeritus Professor of Animal Welfare at Cambridge University. He has developed concepts and methods of scientific assessment of animal welfare and studied: cognitive abilities of animals, the welfare of animals in relation to housing and transport, behaviour problems, attitudes to animals and ethics of animal usage. http://www.animal-welfare-indicators.net/site/index.php/professor-donald-m-broom