Author Website






This target article has three parts. The first briefly reviews the thinking about nonhuman animals’ sentience in the Western canon: what we might know about their capacity for feeling, leading up to Bentham’s famous question “can they suffer?” The second part sketches the modern development of animal welfare science and the role that animal-sentience considerations have played therein. The third part describes the launching, by Compassion in World Farming, of efforts to incorporate animal sentience language into public policy and regulations concerning human treatment of animals.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Author Biography

Andrew N Rowan, former professor at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine where he established the Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy, former CEO of Humane Society International (HSI), and currently President of WellBeing International. Website

Joyce D'Silva, Chief Executive of Compassion in World Farming from 1991 to 2005, has spoken and published widely on the welfare of farm animals and has provided evidence and advice to governments on the genetic engineering and cloning of animals as well as sustainable farming and food in the context of Climate Change. Website

Ian J. H. Duncan, Professor Emeritus, Department of Animal Sciences, Guelph University, Canada, is a pioneer in the development of animal welfare science. He has spent much of his scientific career developing methods of “asking” farm animals what they feel about the conditions in which they are kept and the procedures to which they are subjected. Website

Nick Palmer, current head of Compassion in World Farming in the UK, served formerly as MP for Broxtowe in the UK from 1997 to 2010 and as Director of Policy at Cruelty Free International. A lifelong supporter of animal protection, during his time in Parliament Nick was vice-chair of the All-Party Animal Welfare Group. Website





Article Thread

Rowan, Andrew N; D'Silva, Joyce M; Duncan, Ian J.H.; and Palmer, Nicholas (2021) Animal sentience: history, science, and politics. Animal Sentience 31(1)