Freedom and Animal Welfare
Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, London School of Economics and Political Science, London WC2A 2AE, UK
School of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Sydney, Sydney 2006, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Fabienne Delfour
Received: 1 April 2021
Revised: 12 April 2021
Accepted: 13 April 2021
Published: 17 April 2021
There is an ongoing debate on the ethics of keeping animals in captivity and particularly as to whether freedom matters to their welfare. Freedom is a continuum, and zoo animals are provided with some freedoms that wild animals are not (such as freedom from hunger or disease) but may also lack some freedoms (such as behavioural choice). In this paper, we look at how freedom may benefit animal welfare by allowing them access to the resources they need, as well as through the additional value of a free life itself. In the end, we call for more scientific work on comparisons between the welfare of captive and wild animals, as we cannot guess what is good for animals without conducting research to find out. Knowing more about the welfare of captive and wild animals and how it relates to the amount of freedom they experience will allow us to discover what is important for animal welfare and make decisions that better reflect the animals’ own point of view.