Aristotle’s ethics and farm animal welfare

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Abstract

Although telos has been important in farm animal ethics for several decades, clearer understanding of it may be gained from the close reading of Aristotle’s primary texts on animals. Aristotle observed and classified animals informally in daily life and through planned evidence gathering and collection development. During this work he theorized his concept of telos, which includes species flourishing and a good life, and drew on extensive and detailed assessments of animal physiology, diet and behaviour. Aristotle believed that animals, like humans, have purpose, and that telos is natural and unchanging. Moreover, he greatly valued the economic, political and defence contributions of farmers to their communities. In his stockperson ethics, animals are ordered to rational human purposes through husbandry, and good practice is established and shared by experience, habituation and training. Aristotle provides a useful and demanding framework for farm animal ethics that goes well beyond negative theories of welfare as freedom from harms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-333
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
Volume32
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2019

Keywords

  • Aristotle
  • ethics
  • farm animal
  • stockperson
  • telos

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