UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Societal unease with modern agricultural production : the case of animal welfare Robbins, Jesse Andrew


Agricultural intensification has created a great deal of public skepticism. One major area of concern has been the welfare of animals. This thesis explores a diversity of issues centering on perceptions of the welfare of animals. Chapter 1 begins by reviewing the literature on theories of welfare in both humans and animals. After highlighting several challenges for contemporary theorizing about animal welfare, I conclude that philosophical progress on these problems can be enhanced via experimental research. Chapter 2 describes what such an approach might look like by testing the prominent view that animal welfare consists entirely of how an animal feels. Chapter 3 then examines the empirical support for the popular view that there is a negative relationship between farm size and animal welfare. Using a broad conception of welfare, I conclude that farm size and animal welfare exhibit no consistent relationship. Chapter 4 explores how perceived openness and trust affects perceptions of farm animal welfare. I found evidence that attempts to restrict the ability to monitor a farm’s inner-workings (operational transparency) diminished trust, led to more negative perceptions of animal welfare and greater support for legislative and regulatory restrictions governing animal care. Chapter 5 is a case study describing the attitudes of different stakeholders regarding the common practice of dehorning dairy calves. After describing the level of support among different stakeholders in my sample, I explore the barriers to adopting pain mitigation strategies by focusing primarily on the reasons given by participants opposed to providing pain relief.

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