Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics

Living Edition
| Editors: David M. Kaplan

Telos and Farm Animal Welfare

  • Bernard E. Rollin
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6167-4_448-1


Farm animal welfare and animal physical and psychological nature

There are many reasons why there is relatively scant history of theorizing regarding human moral obligations to animals. First, ethics was largely seen as a highly local phenomenon, governing interactions among limited members of select groups of human beings – witness differing biblical ethical standards for the treatment of Israelites, foreigners, women, slaves, and other subgroups of humans. Second, as St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, animals were not perceived as enjoying genuine moral status. At best, it was obligatory not to treat them cruelly, as they sufficiently resembled humans so that gratuitous abusive treatment of them was likely to eventuate in cruelty towards full objects of moral concern, i.e., human persons. Most importantly, the overwhelmingly dominant use of animals in society was agricultural, being used for the production of food, fiber, locomotion, and power. As I explain below, this obviated...


Moral Concern Nest Building Ethical Concept Good Husbandry Farm Animal Welfare 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA