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Acta Biotheor. 2011 Jun;59(2):153-71. doi: 10.1007/s10441-011-9128-y. Epub 2011 Feb 11.

Concepts of animal welfare in relation to positions in animal ethics.

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  • 1Institut für Philosophie, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany. kirsten.schmidt@rub.de

Abstract

When animal ethicists deal with welfare they seem to face a dilemma: On the one hand, they recognize the necessity of welfare concepts for their ethical approaches. On the other hand, many animal ethicists do not want to be considered reformist welfarists. Moreover, animal welfare scientists may feel pressed by moral demands for a fundamental change in our attitude towards animals. The analysis of this conflict from the perspective of animal ethics shows that animal welfare science and animal ethics highly depend on each other. Welfare concepts are indispensable in the whole field of animal ethics. Evidence for this can be found by analyzing the structure of theories of animal ethics and the different ways in which these theories employ welfare concepts. Furthermore, the background of values underneath every welfare theory is essential to pursue animal welfare science. Animal ethics can make important contributions to the clarification of underlying normative assumptions with regard to the value of the animal, with regard to ideas about what is valuable for the animal, and with regard to the actions that should follow from the results of animal welfare science.

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