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Episode 266: Dr Michaela Hempen What is the “Mind”? Pt 3: Welfare Assessments

This is Part 3 of a conversation with Dr Michaela Hempen in which we consider the question: What is consciousness? What is the mind? Each person’s answer will very much effect their level of concern over animal welfare.

Positive animal welfare assessments seek to provide animals not only with the conditions that they need to survive, but also with what they need to thrive and to enjoy their lives.

The more you move towards positive animal welfare the more complicated the assessment becomes. How do you measure such abstract qualities contained in the phrase: enjoy a good life? How do you assess this?

In Part 3 Michaela reviews the current welfare assessments and asks what are they actually measuring? It’s often not what is intended.

We begin with the question: how do you assess emotions? In the five freedoms model how do you assess if animals are free from fear and stress? In the positive welfare model how do you assess if an animal is happy?


Books / Papers

Ethology / Animal welfare

•   EFSA 2017 Animal Consciousness

•     Ian Duncan 2006 

     Duncan, I. J. (2006). The changing concept of animal sentience. Applied animal behaviour science, 100(1-2), 11-19.


Animal Cognition

•   Animal Cognition by Clive Wynne and Monique Udell

     Wynne, C. D., & Udell, M. A. (2020). Animal cognition: Evolution, behavior and cognition. Bloomsbury Publishing.


Behavior-analytic approach

•  Skinner: Behaviorism at Fifty

     Skinner, B. F. (1984). Behaviorism at fifty. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 7(4), 615-621.

• James Laird Feelings: The perception of self 

     Laird, J. D. (2007). Feelings: The perception of self. Oxford University Press.


• Howard Rachlin: Escape of the mind



•  Lisa Feldman Barrett:How emotions are made

•   Alva Noe: Out of our heads

• Uttal, W. R. (2001). The new phrenology: The limits of localizing cognitive processes in the brain. The MIT press.


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