How did people's views on animal welfare change?
Views onanimal welfare changed over time and continue to undergo changes today. How did the views on animal welfare change in the course of human development?
Animal welfare in the prehistoric period
Most of the information about how people lived in the prehistoric period, we get during the study of burials. And more than once it was noted that animals sometimes were awarded a solemn burial ceremony along with the owners. This probably indicates that animals were a value that people were not averse to taking with them to the next life.
Animals are also mentioned in ancient religions. And some religions, for example, Buddhism, advocate that animals are not harmed.
We find images of animals in ancient works of art. And although this does not give us any information about how animals were treated in everyday life, we can consider this as evidence of the importance of animals to humans.
Dogs deserve special mention - as those who have been faithful companions of people for millennia. According to archaeological data, dogs have lived next to humans since at least the 13th millennium BC. (Sablin, Khopachev, 2002), and maybe earlier. At the same time, the first people who could manufacture ceramic products appeared in 2800 - 1800 BC. That is, a person became a companion of a dog before he learned to burn pots!
Animal welfare in ancient times
In ancient Greece, different philosophers held different points of view in relation to animals. For example, Pythagoras believed that both animals and people have a soul that is no different from representatives of different species. And Aristotle put animals below people and believed that moral standards were not applicable to them, since they are unreasonable creatures.
At the same time, the ruler of the Mauri empire, for example, was Ashoka, who created what can be called the first-ever legal document to protect animal rights. It happened in the 3rd century BC.
Animal Welfare in Western Civilization
For most of its history, Western civilization has been influenced by the Christian religion, which placed man on the pedestal of the crown of creation, which is above all other creatures and can use them at its discretion.
The philosopher Rene Descartes believed that animals are nothing more than self-propelled automatic machines without a soul, which means that a person can use them at his discretion.
Another thinker, Thomas Aquinas, believed that animals are just property, but with the caveat: the one who harms the animal harms the person.
And only in the XVII century did the first attempts to protect animals at the legislative level appear.
In 1635, the Irish Parliament passed an act aimed at protecting horses and sheep from abuse.
In 1641, the Massachusetts Legislative Assembly ruled that no one has the right to tyranny and cruelty to any creature that is used by man.
Against cruelty towards animals was the philosopher Immanuel Kant. He believed that cruelty to animals leads to cruelty to people.
He is echoed by Jeremy (Jeremiah) Bentham, saying that animals are sentient beings, and that is what should determine the attitude towards them. And it doesn’t matter if they can think or talk.
And the creator of the theory of evolution, Charles Darwin believed that the differences between humans and animals are more quantitative, rather than qualitative.
And in 1824, the British William Wilberforce, Richard Martin and Arthur Broome founded the world's first Society for the Protection of Animals from Abuse. In 1840, Queen Victoria took the Society under her patronage, the organization was called the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).
It was this organization, which, incidentally, was condemned by the Roman Catholic Church in those days, became the model for creating similar Societies around the world, including in Australia (1981), Scotland (1839) and the USA (1866).
Animal welfare in the 20th century
The 20th century was largely a turning point in the history of human relations with animals.
It was in the last century that many books were published devoted to the ethical attitude to animals, including such famous ones as The Liberation of Animals by Peter Singer (1975) Animal Cars Ruth Harrison (1964) and In Defense of Animal Rights by Tom Reagan (1983) You can agree or disagree with what is written there, but every animal lover must read these books.
Finally, it was in the 20th century in Great Britain that the concept of animal welfare was developed, which was called the “Five Freedoms” and is used throughout the world.
They also talked about the fact that it is important not only to prevent cruel treatment of animals, but also to improve the quality of life of those who willingly or not found themselves in the sphere of human influence. According to the concept “Life is worth living”, the quality of life of “lesser brothers” is evaluated in three categories:
- Good life.
- A life worth living (a kind of zero reference point).
- A life that is not worth living.
How the approach to animal welfare will change in the future depends on each of us. Necessary components for improving the situation on this issue:
- Education and enlightenment.
They will help to protect those who cannot protect themselves.