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Is Humane Slaughter Possible?

School of Philosophy, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
School of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(5), 799;
Received: 7 April 2020 / Revised: 29 April 2020 / Accepted: 30 April 2020 / Published: 5 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humane slaughter of Animals)
When looking at the welfare of farmed animals, it is important to also consider the conditions at the end of their lives. How animals are transported and slaughtered can have a large impact on their lifetime welfare. Though most work focusses on reducing the pain and suffering experienced during slaughter, we argue that to be humane, slaughter must not create any kind of harm to the animal. As death itself is harmful to welfare—due to depriving the animal of future positive experiences—slaughter can never be truly humane. Furthermore, the order in which an animal experiences positive and negative events has an impact on welfare, and since slaughter places suffering at the end of life, it is even more harmful. Although these considerations mean that no slaughter can ever be completely humane, it is still important to continue research to improve practices so that as long as it continues, harms to welfare are minimised as much as possible.
One of the biggest ethical issues in animal agriculture is that of the welfare of animals at the end of their lives, during the process of slaughter. Much work in animal welfare science is focussed on finding humane ways to transport and slaughter animals, to minimise the harm done during this process. In this paper, we take a philosophical look at what it means to perform slaughter humanely, beyond simply reducing pain and suffering during the slaughter process. In particular, we will examine the issue of the harms of deprivation inflicted in ending life prematurely, as well as shape of life concerns and the ethical implications of inflicting these harms at the end of life, without the potential for future offsetting through positive experiences. We will argue that though these considerations may mean that no slaughter is in a deep sense truly ‘humane’, this should not undermine the importance of further research and development to ensure that while the practice continues, animal welfare harms are minimised as far as possible. View Full-Text
Keywords: slaughter; humane; welfare; harm; shape of a life slaughter; humane; welfare; harm; shape of a life
MDPI and ACS Style

Browning, H.; Veit, W. Is Humane Slaughter Possible? Animals 2020, 10, 799.

AMA Style

Browning H, Veit W. Is Humane Slaughter Possible? Animals. 2020; 10(5):799.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Browning, Heather, and Walter Veit. 2020. "Is Humane Slaughter Possible?" Animals 10, no. 5: 799.

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