I sketch briefly some of the more influential theories concerned with the moral status of nonhuman animals, highlighting their biological/physiological aspects. I then survey the most prominent empirical research on the physiological and cognitive capacities of nonhuman animals, focusing primarily on sentience, but looking also at a few other morally relevant capacities such as self-awareness, memory, and mindreading. Lastly, I discuss two examples of current animal welfare policy, namely, animals used in industrialized food production and in scientific research. I argue that even the most progressive current welfare policies lag behind, are ignorant of, or arbitrarily disregard the science on sentience and cognition.
Jones, R. C. (2013). Science, sentience, and animal welfare. Biology and Philosophy, 1-30.