Franck Meijboom
Utrecht University
Some breeding technology applications are claimed to improve animal welfare: this includes potential applications of genomics and genome editing to improve animals’ resistance to environmental stress, to genetically alter features which in current practice are changed invasively, or to reduce animals’ capacity for suffering. Such applications challenge how breeding technologies are evaluated, which paradigmatically proceeds from a welfare perspective. Whether animal welfare will indeed improve may be unanswerable until proposed applications have been developed and tested sufficiently and until agreement is reached on how to conceptualize animal welfare. Moreover, even if breeding technologies do improve animal welfare, they might be objected to on other ethical grounds. Ethical perspectives on earlier animal biotechnologies are relevant for today’s breeding technologies and their proposed applications, but may need reinterpretation. The current paper applies the concept of telos, which previously figured mainly in debates on classical genetic engineering, to genomic selection and genome editing aimed at improving animal welfare. It critiques current accounts of telos and offers an alternative conceptualization that applies to recently proposed applications of breeding technologies. This account rejects both removing the desire to pursue characteristic activities and altering animal bodies in ways that compromise their ability to perform such activities, but conditionally allows increasing robustness against environmental stress. Our account of telos enriches ethical debate on these breeding technology applications by insisting on the connection between the good life, an animal’s constitution, and its activities, thus countering reductive conceptions of welfare.
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DOI 10.1007/s10806-021-09843-6
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What is It Like to Be a Bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.
Genetically Modifying Livestock for Improved Welfare: A Path Forward.Adam Shriver & Emilie McConnachie - 2018 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 31 (2):161-180.

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