While searching Amazon for more books to eat, I found a mention of a free “online learning tool” called Animal Ethics Dilemma. It presents five case studies (focusing on the use of genetically modified animals, specifically monkeys, in research; the welfare of farmed chickens; euthanasia of aggressive pets; rehabilitation of wildlife; and slaughter plants) and provides various ways to explore the issues presented by these situations. It encourages the user to consider various response options to potentially real-world situations.
Overall, it’s well put together. It does a decent job of introducing five broad areas of animal welfare. The exploratory answer options tend to be a little fixed — the tool is trying to introduce the user to five (debatable) points of view (“contractarian“, “utilitarian“, “relational“, “animal rights” and “respect for nature“) and, instead of allowing freeform answers, the tool forces you to choose between five fixed answers, each representing one of the categories. I don’t honestly believe that any one of these viewpoints is entirely right in all situations, but the division helps to simplify the problems a bit for initial interpretation.
You do have to create a username and password to use the thing, but it’s free, and it never asks for any personal information. It’s designed to let you create a profile of yourself before experiencing the tool, and compare it to a profile of yourself after working with the tool. It’s interesting, and it’s not preachy.
For what it’s worth, I personally figure as highly “utilitarian” and “animal rights”.
I came in 58% utilitarian, which isn’t too surprising as that describes my morals where humans are concerned too.
The questions about the zoos were hardest for me to answer. I think the only good reason for zoos is for conservation of endangered species but that they are only a stop-gap measure. The long term goal should be the elimination of zoos.
The question about euthanizing lion cubs really threw me and I didn’t like any of the answers. It is interesting that several of the questions were good examples of the “slippery slope” logical fallacy. For example, we shouldn’t euthanize the lion cubs because “if this happens it could lead to similar treatment of humans”.
If you haven’t eaten it yet, check out The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons for Expanding Our Compassion Footprint.