A proposal for a UK Ethics Council for animal policy: The case for putting ethics back into policy making

Steven P. McCulloch, Michael J. Reiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Substantial controversy is a consistent feature of UK animal health and welfare policy. BSE, foot and mouth disease, bovine TB and badger culling, large indoor dairies, and wild animals in circuses are examples. Such policy issues are inherently normative; they include a substantial moral dimension. This paper reviews UK animal welfare advisory bodies such as the Animal Health and Welfare Board of England, the Farm Animal Welfare Council and the Animals in Science Committee. These bodies play a key advisory role, but do not have adequate expertise in ethics to inform the moral dimension of policy. We propose an “Ethics Council for Animal Policy” to inform the UK government on policy that significantly impacts sentient species. We review existing Councils (e.g., the Nuffield Council on Bioethics and The Netherlands Council on Animal Affairs) and examine some widely used ethical frameworks (e.g., Banner’s principles and the ethical matrix). The Ethics Council for Animal Policy should be independent from government and members should have substantial expertise in ethics and related disciplines. A pluralistic six-stage ethical framework is proposed: (i) Problematisation of the policy issue, (ii) utilitarian analysis, (iii) animal rights analysis, (iv) virtue-based analysis, (v) animal welfare ethic analysis, and (vi) integrated ethical analysis. The paper concludes that an Ethics Council for Animal Policy is necessary for just and democratic policy making in all societies that use sentient nonhuman species.

LanguageEnglish
Article number88
JournalAnimals
Volume8
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2018

Keywords

  • Animal rights
  • Animal welfare ethic
  • Animals in Science Committee
  • Department for environment
  • Dutch Council on Animal Affairs
  • Ethics Council for Animal Policy
  • Farm Animal Welfare Committee
  • Food and Rural Affairs
  • Nuffield Council on Bioethics
  • Utilitarianism
  • Virtue theory

Cite this

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A proposal for a UK Ethics Council for animal policy : The case for putting ethics back into policy making. / McCulloch, Steven P.; Reiss, Michael J.

Vol. 8, No. 6, 88, 07.06.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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