Thursday, October 20, 2016

Where do your views on animal welfare and ethics sit?

Tiles; hunting; animal welfare and ethics
Is it acceptable to hunt? Is it acceptable to hunt using other animals? A scene painted on tiles at the Cascais Town Hall.

Do you have a position on animal welfare and ethics? One tool designed to help you find out is the Animal Ethics Dilemma online learning tool, which is open to everyone.

You just need to set up an account by visiting here. Once this is done, you will be asked to answer twelve multiple choice questions. These are designed to determine to what extent your views on ethics reflect a utilitarian, animal rights, respect for nature, contractarian or relational perspective. It’s quite an interesting exercise – you may find yourself taking a strong utilitarian approach in one scenario while a strong rights approach in another. This is because most of us use a combination of approaches to dealing with ethical issues.You are then presented with results (your profile) indicating what proportion of your position falls where.

Sand-modelling, greyhound, dog
Santa's Little Helper, the pet greyhound from the Simpsons, sand modelled at Cascais.

Of course this is just a rough guide. With MCQs there is always the risk that your view is not represented in the five options, so you have to chose something that is close enough. 

SAT has moved its HQ to Cascais in Portugal to attend the European College of Animal Welfare and Behaviour Medicine’s annual conference. Our group has undertaken the exercise together and discussed how it might be used in teaching, including whether it would be helpful for Faculty to wear a badge indicating their profile so students can understand where differences of opinion might come from. Would such a tool be useful for communicating with clients? Many disagreements occur because we are coming from very different ethical perspectives, but in the main we’re not great at articulating these. So we don’t always understand why we disagree or the nature of that disagreement. This is a topic that will be revisited through the week. So what do YOU think? Does it help to know where someone is coming from? How do you communicate about ethics and welfare - do you refer explicitly to theory?

Cascais, travel, tiles,animals, lion, animal art
Animals feature in many of the scenes.
(For those interested in travel, Cascais is a mere train ride from Lisbon, and was the scene of some of the filming for the James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) starring Australian George Lazenby as James Bond. It is famous for stunning hand-painted tiles and thus far (n = not many and only the ones I’ve seen in the street) the companion animals of choice her seem to be golden retrievers and chihuahuas).

Dog signs, dogs on lead,
It's Portugese for "entry only for dogs on a lead."