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’The Compassionate Stock-keeper’ and other Virtous Ideals - Values and Definitions in the Animal Welfare Legislations of the United Kingdom, Spain and Argentina

Report
Authors Dorna Behdadi
Publisher Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Department of Animal Environment and Health, Section of Ethology and Animal Welfare
Place of publication Skara
Publication year 2012
Published at
Language en
Keywords animal ethics, legislation, animal welfare, animal protection, agricultural ethics, environmental ethics,
Subject categories Ethology of domestic animals, Ethics, Other Agricultural Sciences not elsewhere specified

Abstract

This report aims at identifying, analyzing and comparing both explicit and implicit values and definitions found within the animal welfare laws of the UK, Spain and Argentina. In the course of doing this, the animal welfare legislations of these countries are summarized and compared to EU legislation. While the legislation of Spain is nearly identical to that of the EU, the Argentinean is comparable to EU legislation and the one of the UK differs in certain regards. Regarding values, there are two main themes found in all three legislations. The first of these is the ethical concern to reduce the suffering of animals used for human ends. This ethical view was historically inspired by proponents of utilitarianism on the one hand and by new physiological and anatomical discoveries on the other. The other theme regarding ethical values, concerns the morale and character of people working with animals. This is a view that to a large extent can be identified as virtue ethics. In combination with a revalued Biblical view of man’s relation to the rest of creation, it may explain the very foundation of laws aimed at protecting animals as restrictions on the supposed inherent rights of humans to use other animals as means for our own ends. The definition of animal welfare found in the three legislations differs in some regards and is similar in others. British legislation is largely based on a view where the welfare needs of animals are divided into five so called ‘freedoms’. These are freedoms from undesirable states such as hunger, pain etc. As this definition of animal welfare has proved very influential, it has had a great impact on EU legislation and in turn on the definition of animal welfare in Spanish national legislation. Argentinean legislation, however, contains a somewhat different view of animal welfare where ‘coping’ is mentioned and where the needs of animals are divided into two subgroups, the need not to suffer from hunger or thirst and the need to live in a fitting environment.

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