The Price of Responsibility: Ethics of Animal Husbandry in a Time of Climate Change
Philosophy, Ethics and Religion
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AbstractThis paper examines the challenges that climate change raises for animal agriculture and discusses the contributions that may come from a virtue ethics based approach. Two scenarios of the future role of animals in farming are set forth and discussed in terms of their ethical implications. The paper argues that when trying to tackle both climate and animal welfare issues in farming, proposals that call for a reorientation of our ethics and technology must first and foremost consider the values that drive current livestock production. This paper sets forth and discusses the broader societal values implicit in livestock production. We suggest that a virtues approach would improve our thinking and practice regarding animal agriculture, facilitating a move from livestock production to animal husbandry. This change in animal agriculture in a time of climate change would stress virtues such as attentiveness, responsibility, competence, and responsiveness as central elements in any mitigation or adaptation program.