A Sentience Article from All-Creatures.org




Time to stop pretending we donít know other animals are sentient beings

From Marc Bekoff, WellBeing International
May 2022

Animal sentience isnít science fiction. Itís not anti-science to say we must use what we know on behalf of other animals and must stop pretending we need more data.

Marc Bekoff
Marc and his friend Genevieve, a clearly sentient rescued Pig

Itís time for more action given what we know about animal sentience. The target article (Rowan et al. 2022), by world-renowned experts, is an excellent summary of what we know and donít know about sentience in nonhuman animals (henceforth ďanimalsĒ). I would have liked to see a bit more coverage of the ethological literature, especially on what are called ďpositive emotions,Ē as in the work of Jonathan Balcombe (2007) on pleasure.

But even given the literature the authors cover, itís clear we already know that numerous animals other than ourselves are sentient beings. We also know they get bored, suffer immeasurably when their bodies are mutilated and their lives compromised by being forced to live in horrific conditions of captivity ďin the name of humans,Ē when their children are ripped away from them to make more meat or milk or cheese, or when theyíre severely abused to entertain us, or they are used for terribly invasive research in captivity and in the field, including conservation projects in which individuals are intentionally killed "in the name of conservation" or "in the name of coexistence." The real question is not whether sentience has evolved, but why.

We also know already that animals feel pleasure and like to experience certain activities such as being free to move about and interact with friends and other animals, to play, and to feel safe (Bekoff 2007, 2010; Pierce and Bekoff 2017). If they didnít enjoy doing these and other things, they wouldnít seek them out and do them.

I know some people will respond with something like, ďWe really donít know whether pigs donít like their tails being cut off or being castratedĒ or ďWe need more data to know that animals get really bored or enjoy play.Ē However, we do know it and itís high time to recognize that this sort of skepticism is unwarranted -- and responsible for widespread and continued abuse, given the evidential database we now have.

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Please read the ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE. 


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