What Moral and Ethical Obligations do Humans Have to Animals

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The exponential rise in earth’s human population since the industrial revolution has put a heightened pressure on food production word wide. The global population reached approximately 7.2 billion in 2013 (United Nation News Centre, 2013) and consequentially the requirement for eggs and poultry has also substantially increased (Pluhar, 2010). As a result of this elevated demand for food, there has been a shift in the way agricultural practices operate to produce the large quantities of meat and eggs necessary to feed the population. The intensive farming method of animal husbandry has become quite a controversial issue and caused apprehension amongst many different factions of society. These concerns relate to how high density farming practices result in dangers associated with environmental impacts, human health and non-human welfare. Animal welfare/animal rights groups argue that the conditions in which the animals live are cruel and abhorrent. This notion of cruelty invites debate surrounding the complex and multi-faceted issue of the moral and ethical obligations humans have in respect to other animals. The issue of battery hen farming is further confounded by economic, social, political, and food security issues. For these reasons the issue warrants further investigation. The main focus of the essay is to explore the moral and ethical issues which humans have towards non-human animals using battery hens as a case study to highlight the topic. Ultimately concluding that public opinion seems to be growing in favour of the banning of battery hens. Animal welfare philosophy: Philosophers and scholars have long debated the human moral and ethical obligations towards non-human animals. The opposing paradigms of animal ethics a... ... middle of paper ... ...vironmental Ethics, 23, 5, pp. 455-468. Regan, T. and P. Singer, eds. Animal Rights and Human Obligations 2/e (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1989) Rollin, Bernard. E, 2004. ‘Animal Welfare and Rights: VI. Animals in Agriculture and Factory Farming.’ Encyclopedia of Bioethics. 3,1. New York: USA, pp. 212-215. ROGER FJELLSTROM Environmental Values , Vol. 11, No. 1 (February 2002) , pp. 63-74 Singer, Peter. Animal Liberation, 2/e (New York: Avon Books, 1990). Singer, Peter. Practical Ethics, 2/e (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993). Taylor, AA and Hurnik, JF. 1996. The long term productivity of hens housed in battery cages and an aviary. Poultry Science. 75:47-51. United Nations News Centre, 2014, ‘World population projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050’, UN report, accessed 21/01/2014.

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