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Commentary Type

Invited Commentary


Andrew N. Rowan, Joyce M. D'Silva, Ian J.H. Duncan, and Nicholas Palmer, Animal sentience: history, science, and politics


Precisely what is meant by the term sentience and how does it overlap with being conscious? We accept that animals have feelings but how do we know what they are and can we measure them? It is important that we clarify the terminology underlying these difficult concepts. Over the last 50 years a scientific discipline has developed to tackle these questions in a systematic way. We have to avoid thoughtless anthropomorphism yet we have to try to relate sentience in animals, as appropriate, to corresponding experiences in humans.

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

Author Biography

Barry Hughes is a veterinary surgeon and was Head of the Ethology Department at the Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh. Co-author of a number of books and over 100 papers on animal welfare, he has focussed on recording domestic hen behaviour, preference testing, and improving husbandry systems for poultry. Website