Animal Welfare pp 127-129 | Cite as

Conclusion to Part II


Although the review I have given in Part II of the reflections of representatives of the animal welfare community is very selective, I think it is fairly representative of those who have written about the ethical and conceptual commitments of those in the animal welfare science community. My review shows, I think, that, while there is an acknowledgment by members of this community that there are value assumptions (and ethical commitments) that lie behind contentions about how to properly conceptualize animal welfare and about what sorts of obligations we have toward animals in our charge, the range of conceptualizations considered and the articulation of competing ethical positions is overly narrow, and this narrowing of the range continues to foster a scientific appropriation of animal welfare concerns. There also seems to be a tendency to confuse a theory of welfare with an account of the sorts of goods that are generally of value to various species. This is all that animal welfare scientists need to investigate. Since my own view, which is based on the Sumner/ Haynes model of welfare, is that caretaking/care giving duties imposed on wards also imposes an ethical obligation on those who assume these duties to provide the kind of care that we assume child custody imposes on the child’s custodian, I find these positions guilty of reformism. However, in criticizing the appropriation of the concept of animal welfare by animal welfare scientists and their apologists, I do not mean to imply that the science has produced no valuable results in supporting a “critical anthropomorphism” about what sorts of treatment of animals in our care truly benefits these animals and which is unlikely to benefit them. A “purer” version of this science, I will suggest at the end of Part III, is very important for ensuring that caregivers preserve the “autonomy” of their wards.


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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2008

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