The material we have covered in this first part can be said to represent the “animal welfare” movement (Jasper and Nelkin, 1992, p. 8) as distinguished from the “animal liberation” movement. Some “welfarist” are more “progressive” than others, if we use as the criterion for “more progressive” the claim that current practices need to be radically reformed, but if suitably reformed, then using animal in research should be acceptable. But most welfarists, at least the ones we have been considering. seem to share certain beliefs: (1) that good science requires that the welfare of its animal models be considered; (2) that only experts are in a position to judge what counts as animal welfare and the degree to which a particular animal is in the appropriate welfare condition or what would be needed to get it into that condition; (3) welfare experts must be scientifically trained, and it is this training that qualifies them as welfare experts. What is problematic about these beliefs, as numerous critics have pointed out, is that the alleged experts are either the same people that use animals in research or that are employed by institutions who have a major financial interest in using animals for research. It is also problematic that the alleged experts have the sort of training that would enable them to be good judges of welfare. Another problem with these beliefs is that they tend to confuse what Sumner calls things that have prudential value with the condition that gives them this value. Someone is well off to the extent that they are justifiably satisfied with their life. Different people have different criteria for what counts as a good life, though generally, there are certain conditions that contribute to the goodness of their life, such as good health, access to adequate housing, education, etc. These things are said to have prudential value to that person. As Sumner points out, it is reasonable to generalize that members of a certain species share a list of these things. Most of the experts mentioned above appear to not understand this distinction and equate welfare with things that standardly have prudential value: e.g., good health, adequate caging, access to food and water, good sanitation. Veterinarians, who are often the legally recognized experts in animal welfare, tend to equate welfare with health, for example.
- Jasper, J. M. and D. Nelkin (1992), The Animal Rights Crusade. The Growth of a Moral Protest. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar