Animal Sentience

WBI’s overarching goal is to identify and promote strategies and behaviors that will lead to global sustainability for all life. Protecting and enhancing animal welfare is an essential component of such a goal. A greater understanding and awareness of animal sentience is critical to achieving WBI’s overarching goal. Jeremy Bentham, the 18th-century utilitarian philosopher, gave voice to the moral importance of sentience when he asked regarding animals “The question is not Can they Reason? nor Can they talk? but Can they suffer? Why should the law refuse its protection to any sensitive being?” (1789; An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation).

WBI has developed multiple approaches and projects to support the development of a greater understanding of animal sentience. WBI supports a unique academic journal – Animal Sentience – that explores what sentience means and which creatures – plants, insects, lobsters, fish, birds? – might be regarded as sentient. A section of the WBI Studies Repository contains numerous documents exploring animal feelings. The Repository also includes a three-volume biography of scientist Donald Griffin, the author of The Question of Animal Awareness (1975), a very important examination of animal sentience. WBI has hosted webinars exploring invertebrate sentience. All these resources advance the global understanding of animal sentience and its extent in Nature.

WBI aims to drive human policy initiatives and encourage global citizens to become involved at all levels – community, state, national, and international – to promote positive actions that increase the well-being of animals, people, and the environment and the sustainability of the world.

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