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Author: Bernard Rollin

Abstract

It is important to stress at the beginning of our discussion the current nature of animal welfare in the US and Europe, because ideas that develop there tend to spread across the world, partly for cultural and partially for economic reasons. Historically, animal welfare was associated with good husbandry, treating the animals well in order to ensure their productivity. Almost until the 20th century, the only articulated social ethic pertaining to animals was a prohibition against deliberate sadistic cruelty. Good husbandry persisted, unfortunately, as an ideal only as long as it was essential for the assurance of productivity. With the rise of the Industrial Revolution, the “ancient contract” represented by husbandry was abandoned in the name of profit. Subsequently, by the 20th century, animal agriculture had become industrialized and dominated by high-technology, allowing the placing of round pegs in square holes, despite some 10,000 years of the ancient husbandry contract. In addition, animal welfare was compromised by the significant rise of animal research in a science that denied any truck with ethics. It must be recalled that despite widespread belief to the contrary among scientists and production agriculturalists, animal welfare is inescapably in part an ethical notion, not strictly a scientific one. In fact, how one views animal welfare ethically determines the shape of the science studying animal welfare, not vice versa. At least in Western societies, the consensus societal ethic will establish the dominant notion of animal welfare, achieved by extending our ethic for humans. While numerous other societies (for example Hindu or Buddhist societies) have excellent theoretical views of animal welfare, they often fail to be instantiated in practice. Latin America also lacks a robust animal ethic.

In: Journal of Applied Animal Ethics Research
In: Journal of Applied Animal Ethics Research
In: Journal of Applied Animal Ethics Research