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Increased formal recognition of animal sentience?

Philosophers and scientists have long debated the question of whether nonhuman animals experience consciousness. Because animals cannot communicate to humans in language, they constitute an extreme example of the philosophical problem of other minds. One tradition in the science of animal behavior (influenced by early twentieth-century behaviorism) focuses on external, observable responses, avoiding the potentially anthropomorphic attribution of behavior to internal subjective states. But recent work in neuroscience suggests that consciousness may not depend on a highly developed cortex, or on any particular brain structure. In 2012, an international group of neuroscientists released "The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness," arguing that nonhuman animals (including all mammals, birds, octopuses, and some others) possess the neurological substrates that generate consciousness, and that consciousness and intentionality are not uniquely human attributes.

The widespread recognition of nonhuman animal consciousness could have far-reaching implications for the scientific, legal, industrial, and social norms that govern the roles of animals in human society. Since 2009, the European Union has legally recognized animals as “sentient beings,” establishing rules for the protection and welfare of all farmed animals. And recently times, Quebec passed a new animal welfare law on behalf of the Animal Amendment Bill, which now legally recognize animals as sentient beings.

The U.S. Animal Welfare Act, in contrast, currently does not recognize animals as sentient or conscious beings; it also excludes birds, farm animals, mice and rats used for research, and all cold-blooded animals from its jurisdiction.

According to the animal protection index established by the World Animal Protection organization, the USA ranked at level D (A being the highest) when judged by the country’s effort in recognizing animal protections. For the U.S., the low ranking is mostly due to legislation only partially recognizing animals as sentient beings. Many other countries were also ranked D and below.

Will we see more effort by countries that are at ranked D and below in the near future in lifting the legal status of animals being nothing more than a property?

We'll put this as a precise question using the WAP's index, which currently lists 9 countries with a B or A grade on "Formal Recognition of Animal Sentience."

At start of 2019, will more than 10 countries be listed with B or A grades on this index?

For resolution to be positive, with WAP index must be updated at some point in the 6 months prior to Jan 1, 2019, and on Jan 1, 2019 show 11 or more countries with B or A grades on this index. Resolution is ambiguous if the index is not updated in the 6 months prior to Jan 1 2019, is unavailable at that date, or has changed its methodology significantly enough that with the new method it would have listed a number of countries different from 9 at question launch.


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