Inspiring Respect for Animals Through the Law? Current Development in the Norwegian Animal Welfare Legislation

Over the last years, Norway has revised its animal welfare legislation. As of January 1, 2010, the Animal Protection Act of 1974 was replaced by a new Animal Welfare Act. This paper describes the developments in the normative structures from the old to the new act, as well as the main traits of the corresponding implementation and governance system. In the Animal Protection Act, the basic animal ethics principles were to avoid suffering, treat animals well, and consider their natural needs and instincts. In addition, a principle for balancing our duties towards animals with the needs and interests of humans was expressed by the formulation unnecessary suffering. These principles (only with slightly different formulations) are retained in the new act. The novelty of the new act is shown by its explicit intention to promote respect for animals and its recognition of animals’ intrinsic value. Whereas intrinsic value is only given a symbolic function, the notion of respect is intended to have practical consequences. One interpretation of respect for animals is taking the animal’s integrity—and not only welfare—into account. Another is to see the introduction of respect as a call to animal keepers to provide animals with welfare exceeding the minimum requirements. In several respects, the legal system now seems to leave more responsibility to the individual animal keeper—and to citizens in general. I argue that if the authorities really do want to promote respect for animals, they must at the same time initiate activities to achieve this. In my perspective the challenge is to provide adequate measures to achieve in practice the intended respect for animals expressed in the new act
Keywords Animal welfare legislation  Animal ethics  Ethical principles  Respect  Intrinsic value  Governance
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DOI 10.1007/s10806-010-9263-5
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References found in this work BETA
Tom Regan (2009). The Case for Animal Rights. In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Noûs. Oxford University Press 425-434.
Kenneth Einar Himma (2001). Philosophy of Law. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Douglas McDermid (2006). Pragmatism. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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John Hadley (2013). Liberty and Valuing Sentient Life. Ethics and the Environment 18 (1):87-103.

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