Ethics of Animal Use (152061)

Course coordinator

Course description

The module is designed to give a student an overview of animal philosophy from ancient time up to now. There are different ethical views through history: utilitarianism, the animal right view, the species-integrity view, the agent centred view, as well as many hybrid views about ethical use of animals. The course should encourage students to develop an understanding of the strengths of the different views, as well as to determine some controversies of different approaches. It is designed to familiarise students with fundamental terms, concepts and principles of animal ethics. The problems of the use of animals in mass food production arising from greater production pressure, confined production systems, production-related diseases, and increased trading and transport of animals will be categorized. Assessment of good animal life will also be studied through examination of physiological and behavioural evidence, reading, and attending lectures/discussions. This module not only presents a body of knowledge, but it also includes discussion/debate and methods of how new knowledge is added to the existing legislation.

Type of course

ECTS: 3.00

Teaching hours: 30
Lectures: 22
Seminar: 8

Associate teacher for exercises

Sufficient (2): 60-70 %
Good (3): 71-80 %
Very good (4): 81-90 %
Excellent (5): 91-100%

Types of instruction

  • Lectures
    a lecturer controlled lectures divided into different topics or sub-topics and systematically covered.
  • Auditory Exercises
    a discussion or debate, problem solving and generating various solutions.
  • Seminars
    a written work covered some specific topic.

Learning outcomes

Learning outcome Evaluation methods
To understand and critically consider different ethical views using scientific methodology and reasoning Discussions during the lectures, seminars and oral examination
To identify the major problems and challenges in animal ethics and be able to debate in rational and open-minded manner Discussions during the lectures, seminars and oral examination
To determine main moral dilemmas in use of animals in food production, in laboratories, as well as specific problems related to companion and wild animals Discussions during the lectures, seminars and oral examination
To identify and understand the local and international legislative related to animal ethics and law Discussions during the lectures, seminars and oral examination

Working methods

Teachers' obligations

Present the program of lectures in a simple and understandable way to students

Assist students in preparation of seminar work

Assess the extent to which students have achieve the learning outcomes of modules and therefore assess students using questions combining by written and oral assessment

Students' obligations

Attend planned curriculum and adopt a program intended knowledge

Participate in the discussion in class and during presentations of seminar papers

Develop and deliver seminar work

Methods of grading

Evaluation elements Maximum points or Share in evaluation Grade rating scale Grade Direct teaching hours Total number of average student workload ECTS
Attending lectures 20 20 0.5
Auditory practice 8 8 0.5
Seminar (preparation, presentation) 50% 2 31 1
Final exam 50% <60%
Insufficient (1)
Sufficient (2)
Good (3)
Very good (4)
Excellent (5)
30 1
Total 100 30 90 3

Weekly class schedule

  1. Introduction to animal ethics L - Introduction and concepts of animal ethics, course description and goals, definition of animal ethics.
  2. Main ethical theories L - The changing face of animal ethics, the main theories of animal ethics.
  3. Main ethical theories L - Human duties to animals, contractarianism, utilitarianism, the animal right view, the relational view, respect for nature view, different hybrid views.
  4. Main ethical theories A - Theories about good animal life, measuring animal welfare, health, physiology, behaviour.
  5. Role of professionals and food production L - Role of professionals, advocates for animals, limits to professional’s duties, duties in regard to the third parties.
  6. Role of professionals and food production L - The use of animals in food production, animal life today and in the past, animal life from ethical point of view.
  7. Role of professionals and food production A - Difference between animal welfare strategy and vegan strategy.
  8. Experimental animals and control of wildlife L - Controlling animals with infectious diseases, threats to humans, the control of wildlife.
  9. Experimental animals and control of wildlife A - The views of animal in experiments, possibilities for a moral compromise, vital benefits, life of lab animals.
  10. Companion and wild animals L - Companion and wild animals, the special status of companion animals, the value of life of companion animals, veterinary treatment.
  11. Companion and wild animals n L - The limits of veterinary treatment of companion animals, human use of wild animals, respect to nature dilemmas.
  12. Animal breeding and biotechnology L - Animal breeding and biotechnology, new ways of changing animals, problems caused by animal breeding and biotechnology.
  13. Animal breeding and biotechnology A - Ethical limits to breeding and biotechnology, breeding and biotechnology viewed in light of ethical theories.
  14. Animal ethics and legislation L - Animal ethics and legislation, ethical acts, animal research regulation, animal ethics committees.
  15. S - Presentation of seminars and discussion.

Obligatory literature

  1. Peter Sandoe, Stine B. Christiansen, Ethics of Animal Use, 2009, Blackwell Publishing: John Wiley &amp; Sons, ISBN: 978-1-4051-5120-7.
  2. Michael C. Appleby, Barry O. Hughes, Animal Welfare, 1997. Publisher: CABI Publishing ISBN: 0 85199 1807

Recommended literature

  1. Armstrong S., Animal Ethics Reader, 2003, Routledge, ISBN13: 9780415275897

Similar course at related universities

  • Ethics of Animal Use, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen
  • Animal Philosophy, Ethics and Law, Malta College of Art, Science and Technology

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