A Proposal for a UK Ethics Council for Animal Policy: The Case for Putting Ethics Back into Policy Making
Department of Politics and Society, University of Winchester, Winchester SO22 4NR, UK
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
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.