Why Animals Matter: Animal Consciousness, Animal Welfare, and Human Well-Being

Judy MacArthur Clark has provided a review of a book written by Marian Stamp Dawkins titled Why Animals Matter: Animal Consciousness, Animal Welfare, and Human Well-Being.

Judy MacArthur Clark is a veterinarian and past-president of the UK Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. She has been a consultant on ethical policy development and on improving the public understanding of science for over 20 years and works actively on research regulation and policy development in Europe and the United States. She is currently head of the Animals in Science Regulation Unit in the UK Home Office.

Judy Clarke's review of the book states:

In Why Animals Matter: Animal Consciousness, Animal Welfare, and Human Well-being, author Marian Stamp Dawkins challenges her readers to radically rethink their attitudes toward animals, and she justifies this challenge on two pretexts. First, there is a pressing need to feed an everexpanding global population, which causes us to focus on food production and environmental protection without proper consideration of animal welfare. Second, we are singularly confused about the consciousness of animals and inconsistent in how we view and treat different groups of animals within our society. Given these two concerns, Dawkins, professor and medal recipient of animal behavior at Oxford University, aims to simplify our approach to understanding animal welfare so that clear and persuasive solutions can be found.

The author's exploration of the basis for anthropomorphism in chapter 3 asks how justified we are in projecting human emotions onto animals. In an age when computers can be “trained” and even programmed to “train” other computers and to “heal” themselves, we realize that it is not out of the bounds of reason to ascribe human characteristics to nonhumans. Dawkins also distinguishes anthropomorphism from consciousness, which she argues should be openly and directly considered in animals on a scientific basis. Our failure to understand animal consciousness, however, should not be used as an excuse for not making progress in understanding the needs and wants of animals—that is, animal welfare.

Read more at http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.1525/bio.2013.63.1.13