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Animal Sentience, Animal Welfare And Politics

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Dion Esparza
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So according to Buzzfeed, a political story with the concept of animal sentience at its core has become ‘the most viral politics article of 2017’.

There has been much written about the reporting and misreporting of the parliamentary vote on Caroline Lucas’ amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, but as far as I am concerned the raising of the profile of animal sentience is a very useful fallout and may in the long run prove beneficial for animal welfare - as long as all those who care about animals maintain political pressure on the topic.

Is it not the case, as some who have defended the vote against Lucas’ amendment argue, that it is already covered in UK animal welfare law?

Their emotions and experiences are more complex than this; Broom (2006) defines a sentient being as ‘one that has some ability: to evaluate the actions of others in relation to itself and third parties, to remember some of its own actions and their consequences, to assess risk, to have some feelings and to have some degree of awareness’.

Sentient animals have an individual welfare that has importance to them irrespective of their use by, or impact upon, humans.

This is accepted science, and the incorporation of the concept into the European Union Lisbon Treaty of 2009 was a major win for animal welfare science and for animals.

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Dion Esparza
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