Death is a Welfare Issue


DOI: 10.1007/s10806-009-9199-9

Cite this article as:
Yeates, J.W. J Agric Environ Ethics (2010) 23: 229. doi:10.1007/s10806-009-9199-9


It is commonly asserted that “death is not a welfare issue” and this has been reflected in welfare legislation and policy in many countries. However, this creates a conflict for many who consider animal welfare to be an appropriate basis for decision-making in animal ethics but also consider that an animal’s death is ethically significant. To reconcile these viewpoints, this paper attempts to formulate an account of death as a welfare issue. Welfare issues are issues that refer to evaluations concerning an animal’s interests. This includes evaluations that refer only to comparisons between the presence and absence of states, including positive states. This means that an animal’s death may be a welfare issue insofar as it leads to the exclusion of relevant positive states. This allows us to deny that death is necessarily not a welfare issue.


Animal welfare issue Ethics Euthanasia Harm of death Nonhuman animal Killing 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Clinical Veterinary Science and Centre for Ethics in MedicineUniversity of BristolBristolUK

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