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Animals 2018, 8(6), 88; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8060088

A Proposal for a UK Ethics Council for Animal Policy: The Case for Putting Ethics Back into Policy Making

1
Department of Politics and Society, University of Winchester, Winchester SO22 4NR, UK
2
Institute of Education, University College London, London WC1H 0AL, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 April 2018 / Revised: 24 May 2018 / Accepted: 31 May 2018 / Published: 7 June 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Ethics)
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Simple Summary

Animal health and welfare policy in the UK often raises important ethical questions. Bovine tuberculosis and badger culling and the use of wild animals in circuses are good examples of controversial policy issues. In the UK, animal health and welfare advisory bodies such as the Farm Animal Welfare Committee do no not have adequate expertise to inform the moral dimensions of such policy issues. This paper proposes a body to be termed the “Ethics Council for Animal Policy” to inform the UK government on policy that significantly impacts sentient species. We review existing ethics 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). We conclude that the Ethics Council for Animal Policy should be independent of government and its members should have substantial expertise in ethics and related disciplines. A six-stage ethical framework is proposed that would help the Council to reach conclusions about such issues as whether badgers should be culled in an attempt to control bovine TB and whether wild animals should be permitted to perform in circuses.

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 Committee 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. View Full-Text
Keywords: Animals in Science Committee; animal rights; animal welfare ethic; Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Dutch Council on Animal Affairs; Ethics Council for Animal Policy; Farm Animal Welfare Committee; Nuffield Council on Bioethics; utilitarianism; virtue theory Animals in Science Committee; animal rights; animal welfare ethic; Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Dutch Council on Animal Affairs; Ethics Council for Animal Policy; Farm Animal Welfare Committee; Nuffield Council on Bioethics; utilitarianism; virtue theory
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McCulloch, S.P.; Reiss, M.J. A Proposal for a UK Ethics Council for Animal Policy: The Case for Putting Ethics Back into Policy Making. Animals 2018, 8, 88.

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