The Price of Responsibility: Ethics of Animal Husbandry in a Time of Climate Change

  • M. GjerrisEmail author
  • C. Gamborg
  • H. Röcklinsberg
  • R. Anthony


This paper examines the challenges that climate change raises for animal agriculture and discusses the contributions that may come from a virtue ethics based approach. Two scenarios of the future role of animals in farming are set forth and discussed in terms of their ethical implications. The paper argues that when trying to tackle both climate and animal welfare issues in farming, proposals that call for a reorientation of our ethics and technology must first and foremost consider the values that drive current livestock production. This paper sets forth and discusses the broader societal values implicit in livestock production. We suggest that a virtues approach would improve our thinking and practice regarding animal agriculture, facilitating a move from livestock production to animal husbandry. This change in animal agriculture in a time of climate change would stress virtues such as attentiveness, responsibility, competence, and responsiveness as central elements in any mitigation or adaptation program.


Adaptation Animal husbandry Mitigation Organic farming Sustainability Virtue ethics 



We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Gjerris
    • 1
    Email author
  • C. Gamborg
    • 2
  • H. Röcklinsberg
    • 3
  • R. Anthony
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of Food and Resource Economics, Danish Centre for Bioethics and Risk AssessmentUniversity of CopenhagenFrederiksberg CDenmark
  2. 2.Institute of Forest & Landscape, Danish Centre for Bioethics and Risk AssessmentUniversity of CopenhagenFrederiksberg CDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Ethics, Centre for Theology and Religious StudiesLund UniversityScaniaSweden
  4. 4.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Alaska AnchorageAnchorageUSA

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