Animal Welfare and Animal Rights: an Examination of some Ethical Problems

Journal of Academic Ethics 15 (4):377-395 (2017)
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The spectacle of the relentless use and abuse of animals in various human enterprises led some human beings to formulate animal welfare policies and to offer philosophical arguments on the basis of which the humane treatment of animals could be defended rationally. According to the animal welfare concept, animals should be provided some comfort and freedom of movement in the period prior to the moment when they are killed. This concept emphasizes the physiological, psychological, and natural aspects of animal life with the focus on freedom. Ironically, however it is not concerned with the rights of animals; nor is it interested in their remaining alive. So, animals are least benefitted by such provisions, which is the major concern for those who defend animal rights. It seems dubious to demand comfort for a being in life, but not security for its actual life, since rights and freedom are essential for the maintenance of a normal life. This paper aims to critically analyze the animal welfare system, which prioritizes only freedom; to demonstrate how animal welfare is incomplete without animal rights and how they are closely related to each other; and to bridge the gap between animal welfare and animal rights. The underlying principle of animal welfare concept is restricted by its anthropocentric framework with the result that the ethical element is missing. Mere ‘freedom’ is not sufficient for constituting an ideal animal welfare domain. In order to achieve real animal well-being, it is necessary to consider both the rights as well as the welfare of animals.



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