Introduction to Animal Welfare Ethics

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Lecture to students at the SOCRATES / ERASMUS INTERNATIONAL COURSE 2003, ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND VETERINARY PUBLIC HEALTH, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht,The Netherlands

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  • January 2003 W orkshop about Concepts modules . World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) & University of Bristol. Greg Dixon module.
  • Introduction to Animal Welfare Ethics

    1. 1. Leopoldo Estol Univ. del Salvador Buenos Aires ARGENTINA Introduction to Animal Welfare Ethics
    2. 2. World Society for the Protection of Animals. <ul><li>Concepts in Animal Welfare . </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.wspa.org.uk </li></ul><ul><li>John Callaghan , Director of Education and Training </li></ul>
    3. 3. University of Bristol UK <ul><li>Teaching resource </li></ul><ul><li>David Main </li></ul><ul><li>27 and 28 January 2003 . </li></ul>
    4. 4. Science, Ethics & Law <ul><li>Welfare science considers the effect on the animal from the animal’s point of view. </li></ul><ul><li>Welfare ethics considers the human actions towards the animals. </li></ul><ul><li>Welfare legislation considers how humans must treat animals </li></ul>
    5. 5. Animal welfare concepts Mental Physical Early tumours Early infections Fear Anxiety Clinical disease Injury
    6. 6. 3 Animal welfare concepts Mental Physical Naturalness Restrict natural behaviour
    7. 7. <ul><li>To understand what ethics are. </li></ul><ul><li>To understand why vets need ethics. </li></ul><ul><li>To recognise different views of animals’ moral status. </li></ul><ul><li>To be aware of the main ethical theories and how they relate to animals. </li></ul><ul><li>To be able to construct ethical arguments about animals. </li></ul>Learning objectives
    8. 8. <ul><li>What are ethics ? </li></ul><ul><li>Why do vets need ethics ? </li></ul><ul><li>The moral status of animals. </li></ul><ul><li>Important concepts in animal ethics. </li></ul><ul><li>Approaches to animal ethics. </li></ul><ul><li>Animal rights and animal welfare. </li></ul><ul><li>Ethics of killing animals. </li></ul>Summary of Content
    9. 9. What are ethics ? <ul><li>What is good or bad, right or wrong. </li></ul><ul><li>A branch of philosophy. </li></ul><ul><li>BUT ethics are a part of everyday life: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Moral philosophers can impact our everyday lives. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Our everyday actions impact on the interests of others. </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. Branches of Ethics Personal Ethics (e.g.) what should we eat ? Society Ethics (e.g.) we should not steal Professional Ethics (e.g.) vets should not cause patients to unnecessary pain
    11. 11. Ethical sceptics 1 <ul><li>Are ethics ‘just subjective’ ? </li></ul><ul><li>Wide agreement between different ethical systems and cultures </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. ‘the golden rule’ found in many cultures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ethics as ‘glue’ holding societies together </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Ethical sceptics 2 <ul><li>Are ethics just preferences ? </li></ul><ul><li>A preference requires no rational defence. </li></ul><ul><li>A preference is not binding for others. </li></ul><ul><li>The nature of moral justification. </li></ul>
    13. 13. Ethical Dilemmas <ul><li>These are situations in which each possible course seems to be morally wrong </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. client confidentiality when clients break the law </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. 2 patients same problem, only 1 dose of medicine </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Not all ethical problems </li></ul><ul><li> are dilemmas </li></ul><ul><li>Not all dilemmas are </li></ul><ul><li> ethical dilemmas </li></ul><ul><li>Many dilemmas can often be solved by careful thinking </li></ul>?
    14. 14. Why do vets need ethics? <ul><li>Vets have obligations to different parties so ethical decisions are constantly faced </li></ul><ul><li>Ethics are the tools to make these decisions well </li></ul><ul><li>Enlightened self interest of the individual and the profession </li></ul>
    15. 15. Why do vets need ethics? vet farmer public Other vets patient Only ethics has the answer !
    16. 16. Important Concepts in Animal Ethics <ul><li>anthropomorphism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Inappropriately giving animals human capacities. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Treating animals as ‘little humans’ can lead to wrong choices for animals. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Speciesism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Discrimination against animals on basis of species. </li></ul></ul>
    17. 17. Approaches to Animal Ethics: Utilitarianism <ul><li>Emphasises consequences of actions </li></ul><ul><li>Seeks to maximise good outcomes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ the greatest good for the greatest number’ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Some problems </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Breaking rules for good consequences. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How do we make the calculation? </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. Peter Singer’s Utilitarianism <ul><li>Aim to maximise the satisfaction of preferences of all species. </li></ul><ul><li>Radical conclusions. </li></ul><ul><li>Major animal interests versus minor humaninterests. </li></ul><ul><li>Utilitarianism: can be interpreted pragmatically as well as radically. </li></ul>
    19. 19. Approaches to Animal Ethics: Duty Based Ethics <ul><li>‘ deontology’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>From the Greek ‘deontos’ meaning ‘obligation’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Emphasis on principals guiding behaviour rather than outcomes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(e.g.) treat people as ends, not as means to other ends </li></ul></ul>
    20. 20. Tom Regan’s Deontology: Animal Rights <ul><li>Animal rights another form of deontological theory </li></ul><ul><li>Tom Regan argues that animals have inherent value </li></ul><ul><li>Rights flow from this inherent value </li></ul><ul><li>Fundamental ‘right to respect’ forbids use of animals as means </li></ul><ul><li>This view demands abolition of animal farming and </li></ul><ul><li> experimentation </li></ul>
    21. 21. Approaches to Animal Ethics: An Ethical Matrix Parties to Problem Fair trade ? Universal affordable food ? Equal consideration of interests ? Fairness or Justice Freedom of choice to adopt or not adopt certain practices Freedom of choice (food labelling?) Behavioural freedom Autonomy Producer income & working conditions Availability of safe food Welfare of cow Utilitarianism Producer Consumer Animal Theory or principle
    22. 22. Animal Rights AND welfare ? <ul><li>Rights and welfare not necessarily opposed </li></ul><ul><li>Animal Welfare Science does not imply acceptance of all customary practices </li></ul><ul><li>‘ New Welfarism’: welfare short term and rights long term </li></ul><ul><li>Less radical interpretations of ‘rights’ </li></ul>
    23. 23. Ethics of killing animals <ul><li>Most difficult question in animal ethics ? </li></ul><ul><li>Is death a harm ? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>death is distinct from dying </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ grief’ in social groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>thwarts desire to stay alive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>prevents future projects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>prevents further opportunities to satisfy desires </li></ul></ul>
    24. 24. Conclusions <ul><li>Vets make ethical decisions all the time so need to know about ethics in order to make them well. </li></ul><ul><li>There are arguments for granting animals some form of moral worth. </li></ul><ul><li>There are various ethical theories which attempt to address the issues of animals and their treatment. </li></ul><ul><li>Perhaps the most difficult question raised in animal ethics is when is it acceptable to kill animals ? </li></ul>

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