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An ethical case study: Castration of piglets without anesthesia

2014.10.15

AUTHOR: Amanda Whitfort. Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, The University of Hong Kong

TITLE: TITULO: An ethical case study: Castration of piglets without anesthesia

PUBLICATION DATE: October 2014
PUBLICATION PLACE: dA web Center

ABSTRACT

Depending on which ethical theory is adopted as policy, different responses to the dilemma may result. The moral case for prohibiting castration without anesthesia, in the interests of preventing unnecessary animal suffering, is certainly strong. Against this rests the financial interests of members of a large industry. The legislator faces a dilemma that could perhaps best by resolved by an appeal to impartial science. That is certainly the stance adopted by EUROGROUP FOR ANIMALS, which relies heavily on the EFSA findings to advance their cause. It is important, however, that we remain cognizant of the fact that ethical assumptions do underpin objective scientific findings (Sandoe, 2012). Despite the specific mandate of the EFSA, a hedonistic view of the need to avoid animal pain, even where this would limit natural behaviors, has clearly influenced their opinion on the welfare aspects of piglet castration. Such ethical assumptions might well be justified, but they should also be made transparent.

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