The Welfare of Animals: The Silent Majority

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010, 02:44 WIB
The Welfare of Animals: The Silent Majority
Name of Book :  The Welfare of Animals: The Silent Majority

Author :  Clive Phillips

Publisher :  Springer Science & Business Media B.V., 2009

Pages :  220


Clive Phillips is a Foundation Chair in Animal Welfare at the University of Queensland, becoming Australia’s first Professor of Animal Welfare in 2003.

In writing this book, it is definitely can not be separated by the phenomenon of animal welfare that is present attracting increasing interest worldwide, especially in developed countries where the knowledge and resources are available to provide better management systems for farm animals, as well as companion, zoo and laboratory animals. The key requirements for adequate food, water, a suitable environment, companionship and health are important for animals kept for all of these purposes.

In this book, Phillips describes many problems faced by animals – those we use for food, for pleasure or in research, and those simply but harshly affected by shrinking habitats in the face of the ever-growing human population read. It focuses not only on the difficulties that animals face, but on their capacity for free-choice, for joy and excitement, and on the possible ways in which the planet can be shared between species if only we take the time and trouble to think more carefully about the impact of our actions.

Furthermore, the book that is a combination between his travel-diary, nature notes, social and cultural history consists of several part i.e. Acknowledgements; Preface; 11 chapters; References and Appendix 1. Almost in every chapter, Phillips will begin it with an introduction and will end with any conclusion.

The first chapter is begun with definitions and concepts of animal welfare. The word ‘welfare’ comes from the Old Norse word velferth, derived from the words meaning good (val in Old Norse) and travel (fara in Old Norse). A similar word, wohlfahrt, is used today in the German language. A commutation of this concept is the popular English word used when people part – farewell. In the Romantic languages the concept is rather different, being based on ‘being good’ (bienestar in Spanish, bien-eˆ tre in French and bemestar in Portuguese). This variation is now supported in the United States, where the word ‘well-being’ is predominantly used, rather than ‘welfare’, because of potential confusion with the welfare state for people.

In Chapter 2, Mankind’s Relationship to Animals in Nature, Phillips describes Man’s relationship with animals is still one of the most important components of moral behaviour, and to understand man’s current position it is important to see how this has developed over the centuries. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in art, prose and religious beliefs, which provide us with a permanent record of the way in which man has changed his attitudes to animals over time. The sections in this chapter chronologically chart man’s changing attitude to animals through these media.

Furthermore, Empathy towards Animals becomes the title of chapter 3. Here, Phillips argues that empathy is the ability to infer and experience what we understand to be the feelings of others, which is not unique to humans but is most evident in higher order animals. Evidence for an adaptive significance of animal empathy comes from the fact that we often focus our empathy on animals which give us benefit, either physical as in farm animals, or social as in companion animals. Such empathic reactions will benefit us through enhanced bonding and recognition of animal needs, as well as symbiotic activities such as hunting. Other influences on the level of empathy include phylogenetic similarity to humans and size of the target animal. The greater level of empathic emotions for animals in women than men suggests that there is a generalization from empathic childcare emotions, which may have developed post domestication, when women looked after animals in the homestead. Several other lines of evidence support the view that empathic responses to animal emotions were influenced by the need to look after domesticated animals.

Thus, the following chapter will be on: Animal Welfare and Animal Rights (chapter 4); Welfare Assessment is the fifth chapter; Managing Animal Welfare and Rights is chapter six; Chapter 7 is Teaching Animal Welfare; Animal Welfare Science and the Scale and Intensity of the World’s Animal Industries (each is chapter 8 & 9). And the two last chapters are: Animal in Research and Future Development in Animal Welfare.

For me, this book will encourage us all to reflect on animal welfare – how it was in the past, how it is changing and how we want it to change in the future. Remembering that animal welfare is not just a scientific discipline, but has a strong humanitarian component as well, we must allow our approach to animal welfare to recognize cultural, gender and social differences. Reflection is what separates us out as a species, the power of rational thought that has served us so well in the past. We have overcome dictators, with ambitions to conquer the world, diseases that threaten to wipe out our species, and we are now tackling both environmental change, that threatens to erode our standard of living everywhere, and poverty that threatens the existence of the poor and needy in the world today. We will overcome these challenges with ingenuity, correct actions and careful planning. But we often forget our biggest responsibility: to recognize that our actions have a major impact on the welfare of animals. Increasingly humans are cognizant of this fact and are taking action to improve animal welfare throughout the globe. After social movements to prevent the abuse of children, racial minorities, disabled people and homosexuals, to be in the midst of a social revolution that recognizes the need to improve animal welfare is truly a privilege.

Finally, it is very encouraged to read this book. Moreover it is not a depressing read. This book provides readers with a vast array of original material. As such it will form a vitally important resource and text book for students and members of the public with an interest in animals from almost any perspective.


Summary by Cut Mita