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Animal Welfare Talk

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Samantha Noll

on 27 August 2017

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Transcript of Animal Welfare Talk

Animal Ethics
Before embarking on our discussion
of animal ethics, let's review
fundamental features of ethics.
Ethics in an Eggshell*
Now what does this have to do with
animal ethics?
Animal ethics were historically
a hybrid of the two.
Important for understanding
animal ethics today.
Rollin's Historical Picture
of Animal Ethics

*From Bernard Rollin's Farm Animal Welfare.
A minimal was already dictated by self interest.
What's changed? Why do we need a new animal
Current Animal Ethics
Class Overview
Brief description of individual & social ethics
History of animal ethics
Review current theories
Case study analysis
Thus we historically had a minimal social consensus animal ethic.

This ethic was reinforced by both human and animal interests (personal ethic) and religious mandates.

Harm to the animal meant harm to the farmer.

Thus issues concerning animals were largely put on the philosophical "back burner," so to speak.
The most well known approach to animal ethics.

Utilitarianism is consequentialist in form.

What is morally right or wrong depends on an action's effects.

But what counts as the best possible consequences?

Improve the living conditions of farm animals

Adopt a largely vegetarian diet

However, utilitarianism does not automatically endorse a principle that killing animals is wrong.

Singer says: “It is not wrong to rear and kill it [an animal] for food, provided that it lives a pleasant life, and after being killed will be replaced by another animal which will lead a similarly pleasant life and would not have existed if the first animal had not been killed. This means that vegetarianism is not obligatory for those who can obtain meat from animals that they know to have been reared in this manner”(Singer 1979:, p.153)
Another well known approach to animal ethics.

Philosophers have extended the idea of moral rights beyond humans, arguing that animals also have moral rights.

Important distinction: Two Senses of Rights: legal and moral.

Legal rights
are rights that are created and that exist within legal systems.

Moral rights
, though, are not created by the law. These are rights stem from the inherent value of a being.
Rights can't be traded
Factored into calculations

Animal Rights Approaches
Rights language carries special force.

To say that a being has moral rights is to make a very strong claim that those rights should be protected or promoted. A "Trump card."

Rights Based Approaches are not based on consequences.

Regan argues that all “experiencing subjects of a life” should be thought of as possessing moral rights.
Regan's Rights Based Approach
Subject of a life:

An experiencing subject of a life is “a conscious creature having an individual welfare that has importance to it whatever its usefulness to others.”
Undergo pleasure and pain
experience satisfaction
have a sense of self

They are not instruments for someone else’s use and benefit.

Creatures that possess it – and Regan argues that all mentally normal adult mammals fall into this category – have
basic moral rights, including the right to life and to liberty
Regan's Rights Based Approach
For example, my dog Turtle likes to go outside and hide her bones, especially in the garden. Here you could argue that she has a right to live her life the way she wants to... (which includes being able to go outside and hide her bones). Thus, she deserves ethical treatment and I need to respect her right to her bones... even if this goes against my interest in keeping her safe.
Animal Rights Approaches
Bernard Rollin's "Respect for
" position.

Rollin proposes that we should follow the “Maxim to Respect
” when deciding how to treat animals. This maxim is, roughly, that if we have dealings with animals, we need to respect their needs and desires.

Roughly, the
of an animal is the needs and desires that stem from its nature.

" is greek for "purpose," "end," or "goal."
The rights view is categorically abolitionist.
No animal testing
No industrial agriculture
Even pet ownership is problematic

"Lab animals are not our tasters; we are not their kings. Because these animals are treated routinely, systematically as if their value were
reducible to their usefulness to others, they are routinely, systematically treated with lack of respect, and thus are their rights routinely, systematically violated.…" (Regan 2007, p.2010).

"As for commercial animal agriculture, the fundamental moral wrong here is [the] systematic wrong that allows these animals to be viewed and treated as lacking independent value, as resources for us - as, indeed, a renewable resource." (Regan 2007, p.210).

No industrial agriculture but other forms are acceptable

Eating meat is acceptable

Selective breeding and genetic modification are acceptable, as telos is not fixed

Utilitarian animal ethics (consequences)
Animal rights approaches (inherent value)
approaches (behavior)

These are three main approaches. However, the field of animal ethics is vast and thus includes other ethics and hybrid approaches.

Case Study: Animals as Food
Two of the three ethics (the
approach and utilitarianism) allow for some form of animal production. However, the animal rights approach does not.
Which ethic would you endorse concerning animal production?
Why would you endorse it?
What (if anything) is problematic with each of the other approaches?
A series of significant social changes occurred after WWII that made the historical social ethic obsolete.

First, the numbers of animals used for biomedical research increased dramatically.

Researchers are not being intentionally "cruel." They are motivated by decent intentions such as to cure disease, ensure product safety,
and to advance knowledge.
Historical Ethic Short Circuited
Second, Agriculture, including animal agriculture, was industrialized after WWII.
Historical Ethic Short Circuited
This greatly increased productivity.
This means that the numbers of farm workers decreased while the number of animals raised has greatly increased.

It also means that animal environments have been altered to improve productivity. (battery cages, gestation crates etc...)

Also behavior previously seen as "bad husbandry" such as animal overcrowding was made possible by advances in antibiotics and vaccines.
Historical Ethic Short Circuited
Historical Social Consensus Ethic
This traditional ethic was an ethic forbidding cruelty.

It forbids the deliberate, unnecessary infliction of suffering and pain on animals.
"For as long as humans have domesticated
animals and had a social consensus ethic,
it has included an ethic concerning the treatment
of animals" (Rollin 1995, p.45).
Historical Animal Ethic Overview
For Example:

The Bible and Other Religious Texts often condemn animal cruelty.

Do not yolk an ox and mule together...

A sharp knife must be used when slaughtering an animal...
Historical Social Consensus Ethic
Also Aquinas and Kant both condemned animal cruelty because it may lead to the abuse of humans.
Historical Personal Ethic
Finally, prior to the 1950s, animals were mostly used in farming contexts where they lived in a "symbiotic" relationship with humans.
Good husbandry
If the animals thrived, then the farmers thrived.
All of these changes in the way we raise animals
led to:
Unintentional animal suffering
The reduction of negative consequences for previously bad animal husbandry.

Thus the old ethic built on the punishment of
cruelty and on self interest no longer worked in this new environment.

Also, the rise of environmental ethics during the 1970s brought animal communities and ecosystems
into the ethical purview.
An ethic is a set of rules, beliefs, and principles about right and wrong, justice and injustice, and good and bad that guide people's behavior.
Ethics is taught by teachers, parents, peers, and clergy, for example.
Ethics in a Nutshell
Different Types of Ethics
Personal Ethic:

A personal ethic is made up of your personal values, principles, or rules of thumb that guide your individual decision making.
Different Types of Ethics
Social Ethics:

Social ethics are those views of right and wrong that are encoded in laws and policies. These are also called "social consensus ethics."
Now you may think that ethics are subjective....
In reality, very few ethics are left to one's personal opinion.
Different Types of Ethics
Let's look at the example of the bank robber.
It may be the robber's personal ethical
opinion that bank robbery is acceptable if you need the money...
However, this will clearly not stand up in court when s/he's convicted and punished.
Ethics in an Eggshell
Social ethics, encoded in laws, are universally binding on members of society and not a matter of personal opinion.

If this were not the case, then we would have chaos. (Imagine life without traffic laws.)
Also, it is important to note that areas of conduct can move from one sphere to the other over time. (Hiring practices, for example.)
Jeremy Bentham's approach:
Consequences should be measured in terms of maximizing pleasures and minimizing pains.

Thus the ethical action would be the one that brings about the most pleasure and least pain.

If animals feel pain and pleasure, then they should be included in our calculations about what to do.

Singer's Adapted Approach:
If a being can suffer, it has an
in avoiding suffering, and its interests should be treated equally to the similar interests of other beings, whether they are human or not.

Interests are what matter, not the inherent value of the individual
The strongest interest should prevail
again, this ethic is consequentialist

Animal Ethics:
What ethical duties do humans have towards non-human animals?

Most Common Approach:
Apply Ethical Theories to animal questions.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Peace, Justice, and Human Rights
Environmental philosophy, Environmental Justice, Applied Ethics
Work with community supported agriculture projects
Social Justice
Animal Ethics?
Quick Review
Question: Which ethic (if any) do you think should replace the historical social consensus ethic or personal ethic?
Social Ethic
Personal Ethic
Historical Ethic Short Circuited
1) What changes in agriculture short circuited the historical ethic?
Pigs in New York
1) Should people be allowed to keep pigs in New York?
2) Which animal ethic would support keeping pigs?
3) Which animal ethic would not support keeping pigs?
4) What about pigs kept for agricultural purposes?
Full transcript