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5. Ethical Issues In Nonhuman Animal Welfare


Decide whether the entity (nonhuman animal) has moral standing. ... no cruelty to animals (1641) Environments often regulated ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: 5. Ethical Issues In Nonhuman Animal Welfare

5. Ethical IssuesIn (Nonhuman) Animal
Welfare (Nonhuman) Animal Rights
  • Larry D. Sanders
  • Spring 2002

Dept. of Ag Economics Oklahoma State
  • Purpose
  • to understand ethical issues related to animal
    welfare animal rights
  • Learning Objectives
  • 1. To review the concepts of animal rights and
    animal welfare.
  • 2. To understand the key conflicts related to
    animal rights and animal welfare.
  • 3. To understand the ethical dimensions of
    animal rights and animal welfare.

How it might have been in another time, another
  • For a long time he looked at the dead mammoth,
    sadness and regret welling in his heart.
    Somberly, he went down to kneel by the mammoths
    huge head and stroke it gently. From the sacred
    pouch hanging around his neck, he took the
    special amulets, breathed on them, and began the
    process of singing the cows soul to the Blessed
    Star People.
  • The darts had worked.
  • --W. Michael Geer Kathleen ONeal Gear, People
    of the Wolf

The Core of the Ethical Issue
  • Nonhuman animals are only of instrumental
  • If so, do they still deserve treatment with
    minimal standards?
  • If (2) not so, should they have the same rights
    as humans, how do we implement this?
  • If yes to (2), ethical views are likely
    anthropocentric utilitarian
  • If yes to (3), ethical view is likely

The treatment question
  • Decide whether the entity (nonhuman animal) has
    moral standing.
  • If so, decide reasons to thwart the interests of
    the being with moral standing.

Sampling of Recent Conflicts
  • The desire for animal research to solve human
    problems vs. the desire to end/limit lab
    experiments on animals
  • The desire for wildlife management thru licensed
    hunting vs. the desire to stop violent acts on
  • The desire for animal skins furs as clothing
    vs. the desire to stop the trapping of wildlife
    the domestication of animals for clothing
  • The desire for pets vs. the desire to limit or
    end the raising of animals for pets or humane
    treatment of pets
  • The desire for animal production for human use,
    including meat vs. the desire to end such
    production or set standards on production

The Key Debate
  • Animal rights view
  • Revolutionary change, often to the point of
    vegetarianism, giving nonhuman animals moral
    standing that allows human-like treatment
  • Animal welfare view
  • Moderate reform in animal agriculture, but
    maintain commercial use of animals for human
    consumption nonfood use, while establishing
    some standards for treatment of animals

Legal Structure for Animal Agriculture in US
  • Domesticated animals are chattel (personal
  • --own, buy, sell animals w/disposal left to
    discretion of owner.
  • --owner cant create nuisance w/animals
  • Production practices that harm animals are
  • --humane destruction
  • --no cruelty to animals (1641)
  • Environments often regulated
  • --transport/slaughter, animal health, food

Conduct Performance of US Animal Agriculture
  • Animal agriculture purposes food, coproduct,
    economic stabilizer
  • Function of changing technology profit
  • Confinement evolving as primary system for
    commercial production of poultry, hogs, feeder
    cattle (CAFO confined animal facility operation)
  • Better worse for animals
  • Proponents see animals treated w/care for
  • Critics see confinement management as cruel

Ethical Issues in Animal Agriculture Animal Care
  • Personal tastes preferences
  • Bound by history, culture religion
  • Individual producer practices
  • Animal power animal production for human use
    for profit, but humane treatment expected
  • Public policy issues
  • Humane treatment?
  • Hunger issues (i.e. protein sources, grain thru
  • Animal experimentation for human purposes
  • Intelligent species special (i.e. apes,

Animal Welfare vs. Animal Rights
  • Why should we care about farm animals?
  • Capable of feeling pain?
  • Level of intelligence?
  • Value life?
  • Worthy of respect?
  • Healthier animals mean healthier food?

Animal Welfare vs. Animal Rights (cont.)
  • Moral concern the social contract come together
    in contrast between rights welfare
  • Natural order hierarchy
  • Descartes, Kant rejected natural order also
    rejected animals as members of moral community
  • Bentham pleasure/pain fulfills moral
    requirements for animals
  • Reflections about animals were about human-human
    treatment, w/animal discussions as an aside

Utilitarian Measurement of Welfare
  • Bentham hedonism (benefitpleasure harmpain
    concludes animals deserve moral consideration)
  • Mill human well-being valued more highly than
    animals, but some consideration to animals
  • Singer/Fox utilitarian reasoning
  • Certain farming methods cause suffering
  • This suffering should be taken into consideration
    at all decision levels (producers practices,
    consumer choices, farm animal regulation)
  • Benefits vs. costs (intensive ag too costly
    favors vegetarianism not because meat-eating
    wrong, but wrong to bring pain/suffering to

Utilitarian Measurement of Welfare
  • Utilitarian assumptions
  • Universality (all affected parties experiences
  • Maximize utility (greatest good for the greatest
  • Axiology determined by whether party more or less
    satisfied w/solution
  • Farm practices evaluation
  • Assess benefits (food producer income)
  • Assess harm (include animal suffering)
  • Compare to alternatives (opportunity cost)
  • Choose option w/greatest net benefit
  • May or may not conclude against animal
    production, CAFOs, meat eating depends on
    implementation, values
  • May or may not reduce suffering (assurance

Animal Interests Animal Rights
  • Some contend animals have rights based on
    intrinsic value (wrong to kill animals, period)
  • May be based on empathy for others (treat other
    human nonhuman animals as you would like to be
  • May be based on self-interest
  • May need to extend argument from contractual to
    to metaphysical realm (deny rights, denies
    capacity to act rationally, denies humanity)
  • May need to assume animals have language to
    assume rationality
  • May need to assume animals are Regans subject
    of a life (create their own reality), thus
    deserve rights

Proposed Criteria for Moral Standing
  • Membership in Homo sapiens
  • Personhood
  • Potential personhood
  • Rationality
  • Linguistic capacity
  • Sentience
  • Being alive
  • Being an integral part of an ecosystem
  • Being an ecosystem

Additional Thoughts (Sanders)
  • Some sociologists/others see the primary criteria
    of what makes us human as symbolic
  • While originally thought to show this ability
    limited to Homo sapiens, case studies of gorillas
    learning/developing sign language cloud this
    perception (dolphins also?)
  • Acknowledging moral standing extends to
    nonhuman animals and perhaps other life doesnt
    assure that humans will no longer eat, kill or
    otherwise use these species
  • Native Americans, other indigenous peoples
    praised the souls/spirits of animals, other
    species as they used them for nourishment and
  • If the extreme ecocentric view of all life as
    sacred and/or has moral standing, still begs the
    ethical question of what is permissible to be
    killed/exploited for food other human uses

  • See Case Study Animal Rights/Animal Welfare
    student presentation/materials for additional
    information views.

  • W. Michael Geer Kathleen ONeal Gear, People of
    the Wolf, Tom Doherty Associates Book, New York,
  • M. Harris, Cannibals Kings The Origins of
    Cultures, Vintage Books, New York, 1977.
  • C. Sagan, The Dragons of Eden, Ballantine Books,
    New York, 1977.
  • TMR
  • VP
  • USDA farm animal policy http//www.nal.usda.gov/

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA)
  • US law to protect certain animals from inhumane
    treatment and neglect passed in 1966 amended
    in 1970, 1976, 1985 1990. USDA's Animal and
    Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
    administers AWA, its standards, and its
  • Requires that minimum standards of care and
    treatment be provided for certain animals bred
    for commercial sale, used in research,
    transported commercially, or exhibited to the
    public. Individuals who operate facilities in
    these categories must provide their animals with
    adequate care and treatment in the areas of
    housing, handling, sanitation, nutrition, water,
    veterinary care, and protection from extreme
    weather and temperatures. Although Federal
    requirements establish acceptable standards, they
    are not ideal. Regulated businesses are
    encouraged to exceed the specified minimum
  • Exemptions include the AWA regulates the care
    and treatment of warmblooded animals, except
    those, such as farm animals, used for food,
    fiber, or other agricultural purposes.
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