Past Debates

Sentience Mosaic hosts live online debates where a variety of topics related to animal sentience are discussed. Here you will find our past debates, where you can read our experts answers to your questions. Our most recent debate is below, to find exactly what you want, refine the list using the refine boxes below.

Animal sentience, science and legislation what are the links?

Sentience Topic: Behaviour Guest: Dr Antoine Goetsche and Professor Joan Schaffner  Date: 18 Feb 2014  
Global Issue: Agriculture, Biomedical research, Sustainability

Join us on the 18th February 2014 at 3pm (UK time)

Scientific advancements in relation to animal sentience and cognition have grown significantly in the last couple of decades. For example, we now know that fish can feel pain, octopus are conscious beings, and rats can feel empathy. Is this scientific knowledge currently considered enough in legislation and policy, particularly for vulnerable groups such as invertebrates?

As the human population continues to grow our reliance on animals continues to increase, whether it be for food, entertainment, or for testing. It is therefore vital that legislation is in place to protect the animals in our care. Dr Antoine Goetschel, Lawyer and International Animal Law and Ethics Consultant, Zurich, and Joan Schaffner, Associate Professor of Law, The George Washington University, will discuss and share their expertise on current animal welfare legislation and what they hope for the future. 

Please post your questions/comments below for Antoine and Joan to answer. Alternatively send your questions to

Did you know?

Higher oxytocin levels in dogs make them perceive the world in a more positive way. Kis, A., Hernádi, A., Kanizsár, O., Gácsi, M., & Topál, J. (2015). Hormones and behaviour.