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Animal Law Committee Newsletter - Fall 2019

Enshrining Animal Sentience into Law: Global Developments and Implications

It was in 1637 that the French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes declared nonhuman animals to be automatons. Although they reacted to stimuli, he said, they did not feel pain or experience pleasure. They were no different in his view from biological machines. What Descartes’ pronouncement ushered in was an era of intellectual and moral indifference if not hostility toward animal welfare that would inform legal thought for centuries.

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