Animal dignity and animal welfare science, brothers in arms?

Ciska De Ruyver, Frank A.M. Tuyttens, Christel Moons, F.O. Odberg, Machteld Van Dierendonck

Résultats de recherche: Contribution dans un livre/un catalogue/un rapport/dans les actes d'une conférenceArticle dans les actes d'une conférence/un colloque


Animal ethics discussions mostly have a one-directional focus on humane treatment of animals1. By zooming in on questions about how we humans feel that animal welfare is best served, we sometimes fail to capture the preferences and ethological needs of individual species and animals2. In order to be able to respect the agency and autonomy of animals, we have to understand them3. Human expectation biases make it difficult to capture the animal’s point of view. Consequently, perspective-taking based on knowledge about animal-based indicators of animal welfare is indispensable when framing animal dignity4. To date, there is species-specific knowledge available, but it is underused in the animal ethics debate5. Both the growing body of knowledge of animal welfare science6 and the emergence of the concept of animal dignity can play pivotal roles in enforcing of what is at stake for the of animals themselves. The crux: How could we best define dignity for animals? We argue that it is important to question what is needed from an animal's point of view to develop the concept of animal dignity. To this end, the first part of the lecture outlines the current state-of-the art of ethology and animal welfare science. Second, we turn to some key ethical aspects in linking animal welfare science results with animal dignity. Questions on whose point of view in defining “animal dignity” will be discussed based on current animal welfare science findings in preference, motivation and aversion research and in the modern studies of animal emotions (cognitive bias, anticipation, consumer demand, QBA…). Animals can indicate their emotional state related to management and/or physical situations. This has ethical implications that need to be taken into account, also when considering animal dignity. Researching and clarifying the link between affective state, welfare and dignity can provide us some leads to an animal-centered way of finding out what is important for them in their own perspective. Finally, in order to prevent superficial appearance of consensus, finding common ground and common terminology between the different sciences (animal welfare science, ethology, law and animal ethics) is necessary when we draw upon this newly installed concept. This issue has received little attention in the literature and needs to be elaborated. Governing animal dignity: As animal welfare science, animal ethics and law develop, positions and findings should be shared, formulated and revisited when needed. 1. Bolliger, G. Legal Protection of Animal Dignity in Switzerland: Status Quo and Future Perspectives. Anim. Law 1, 8–23 (2016). 2. Willett, C. Interspecies Ethics. Interspecies Ethics (2016). doi:10.7312/will16776 3. Nussbaum, M. C. Frontiers of justice : disability, nationality, species membership. (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, 2006). 4. Mendl, M., Burman, O. H. P., Parker, R. M. A. & Paul, E. S. Cognitive bias as an indicator of animal emotion and welfare: Emerging evidence and underlying mechanisms. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 118, 161–181 (2009). 5. Fraser, D. Animal ethics and animal welfare science: Bridging the two cultures. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 65, 171–189 (1999). 6. Broom, D. M. A History of Animal Welfare Science. Acta Biotheoretica 59, 121–137 (2011).
langue originaleAnglais
titreInternational conference Animal Dignity and the Law
Etat de la publicationPublié - 9 oct. 2021

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