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


Despite considerable advances in the study of animal sentience, reluctance to credit non-human animals with emotional capacities persists. I argue that this reluctance is untenable in light of (evolutionary) theory and empirical evidence. Humans may differ from animals in their ability to reflect on, reason about, and deliberately regulate their emotions. If anything, however, this implies animals’ emotional displays provide a more valid and reliable window into their internal states than do humans’, whose displays may be strategically altered. Any signs of pleasure or distress thus constitute direct readouts of animal wellbeing. It is time we start treating animals accordingly.

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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

Gerben A. van Kleef, Ph.D., is a professor of social psychology. His main research programs revolve around emotion, power/hierarchy, social norms, conflict, and cooperation. In studying these topics, he combines social-psychological approaches with insights from behavioral economics, law, and (evolutionary) biology. Website