Animal ethics is a term used in academia to name the branch of ethics that examines human-animal relationships, the moral consideration of animals and how nonhuman animals ought to be treated. The subject matter includes animal rights, animal welfare, animal law, speciesism, animal cognition, wildlife conservation, the moral status of nonhuman animals, the concept of nonhuman personhood, human exceptionalism, the history of animal use, and theories of justice. Several different theoretical approaches have been proposed to examine this field, in accordance to the different theories currently defended in moral and political philosophy.
History of Animal Rights
The first animal rights laws were first introduced between 1635–1780. In 1635, Ireland was the first country to pass animal protection legislation, "An Act against Plowing by the Tayle, and pulling the Wooll off living Sheep".In 1641, Massachusetts colony's called Body of Liberties that includes regulation against any "Tirranny or Crueltie" towards animals. In 1687, Japan reintroduced a ban on eating meat and killing animals. In 1789, philosopher Jeremy Bentham argued in An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation that an animal's capacity to suffer—not their intelligence—meant that they should be granted rights: "The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? Why should the law refuse its protection to any sensitive being?"
Between 1822–1892, more laws were passed to protect animals. In 1822, the British Parliament passed the Cruel Treatment of Cattle Act. In 1824, the first animal rights society was founded in England by Richard Martin, Arthur Broome, Lewis Gompertz and William Wilberforce, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which later became the RSPCA. The same year, Gompertz published Moral inquiries on the situation of man and of brutes, one of the first books advocating for what will be more than a century later known as veganism. In 1835, Britain passed the first Cruelty to Animals Act. In 1866, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded by New Yorker Henry Bergh. In 1875, Frances Power Cobbe established the National Anti-Vivisection Society in Britain. In 1892, English social reformer Henry Stephens Salt published Animal Rights: Considered in Relation to Social Progress.
Between 1944–1998, animal rights gained increasing support. In 1944, Donald Watson, an English animal rights advocate, founded the Vegan Society in Britain. In 1970, Richard D. Ryder coined the term "speciesism", a term for discrimination against animals based on their species-membership. This term was popularized by the philosopher and ethicist Peter Singer in his 1975 book Animal Liberation. The book has been considered very influential in the development of animal rights. Other ethicists that have since have since work in this field include Tom Regan, Steve F. Sapontzis, Paola Cavalieri and Evelyn Pluhar
Ethical Guidelines for Animal Research
- Respect Animal Dignity
- Responsibility for considering options (Replace)
- The principle of proportionality: responsibility for considering and balancing suffering and benefit:
- Responsibility for considering reducing the number of animals (Reduce)
- Responsibility for minimizing the risk of suffering and improving animal welfare (Refine):
- Responsibility for maintaining biological diversity
- Responsibility when intervening in a habitat:
- Responsibility for openness and sharing of data and material
- Requirement of expertise on animals
- Requirement of due care
Journal of Clinical Research and Bioethics
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