Animal Welfare: Competing Conceptions and Their Ethical Implications

Monday, January 31st, 2011, 08:17 WIB
Animal Welfare: Competing Conceptions and Their Ethical Implications

Book Title :  Animal Welfare Competing Conceptions and Their Ethical Implications

Author :  Richard P. Haynes

Publisher :  Springer; 1 Edition. 2008.

Pages :  162


In general, this book talks about members of the animal welfare science community, which consists of scientists and philosophers, have illegitimately appropriated the concept of animal welfare by claiming to have given a scientific account of it that is more objectively valid than the more “sentimental” account given by animal liberationists. This strategy has been used to argue for merely limited reform in the use of animals. This strategy was initially employed as a way of “sympathetically” responding to the abolitionist claims of anti-vivisectionists, who objected to the use of animals in research. It was subsequently used by farm animal scientists. The primarily reformist (as opposed to abolitionist) goals of this community make the false assumption that there are conditions under which animals may be raised and slaughtered for food or used as models in scientific research that are ethically acceptable. The tendency of the animal welfare science community is to accept this assumption as their framework of inquiry, and thus to discount certain practices as harmful to the interests of the animals that they affect. For example, animal welfare is conceptualized is such a way that death does not count as harmful to the interests of animal, nor prolonged life a benefit.

Furthermore, Haynes has classified the book into several parts. In Part I (The Science of Laboratory Animal Care and Welfare), he explores the ways in which laboratory animal scientists responded to critics of their use of animals by claiming to have a more authoritative, scientifically grounded understanding of animal care and welfare than the critics have. He begins with an account of the beginning of the "animal welfare movement" in the founding of the Universities Federation of Animal Welfare under the leadership of Major C. W. Hume and then describe the early responses of scientists in the US to critics and to immigration of the British welfare movement to the US and its interactions with what he will call the animal care movement in the US.

In Part II (The Emergence of the Science of Food Animal Welfare Mandated by the Brambell Commission Report), Haynes concerns on the emergence of the science of food animal welfare mandated by the Brambell Commission Report, the various conceptions of animal welfare developed or assumed by animal welfare scientists and their co-philosophers and the accounts they give of their "value assumptions" and the ethical concerns to which they are related and how these accounts function to justify what the so-called the on-going appropriation of the concept of animal welfare. Since the body of animal welfare science literature is extensive, he will select several reflective representatives of this movement for this examination of value assumptions.

In Part III (Giving Animals What We Owe Them), Haynes describes the ethical implications that have been drawn from these competing conceptions within the animal welfare community and criticizes them, focusing on certain versions of the "fair deal" argument and on the idea of a contract that farm animals made to be used for food. The contract model, he argues, is misused to draw justifications for the continued exploitative use of animals for food and research. Finally, Haynes explores the ethical implications of what he considers to be the correct conceptualization of the notion of animal welfare and consider what role a suitably reformed animal welfare science might play in informing us about how we should treat animals under our care.

Thus, in this book Haynes conveys his own position about using animals or controlling their environments is that users or controllers have an ethical obligation to provide a rich environment that will enable the animals to flourish, to use a term that Martha Nussbaum uses, or, that they find justifiedly satisfactory (Sumner’s notion of autonomy). This would preclude most uses of animals in biomedical research and certainly precludes using them for food (unless they are already dead, or unless killing them painlessly when their lives have reached a point where they are sufferings – Gary Comstock’s position). In effect, therefore, he is an abolitionist. he does not agree with Singer’s utilitarianism and he finds Tom Regan’s rights theory overly narrow. Haynes agrees with him that animals are “subjects of a life” but he thinks their rights are broader than the negative “leave them alone” rights that Regan gives them. Also his position does not seem to leave any room for a philosophy of wildlife management, especially in cases where humans have influenced the environment in ways that are harmful to some species. His position is practically identical to the one that S. F. Sapontzis develops in his 1987 book.

This book is remarkably well-researched, philosophically reflective, and thought-provoking book. The value of Haynes’s book lies in its superbly documented insistence that it is morally incumbent upon us to expropriate animal welfare from the narrow and self-serving definition widely disseminated by the animal science welfare community. This is genuinely important book on the ethics of human and animal relations.

Summary by: Cut Mita