3. Biodiversity and Conservation Intended Learning Outcomes



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Worksheet 8:

(For teachers’ reference)
Personality Test. Assessing Your Score
How we use animals for food

Four different philosophical positions

You may well have noticed how this works. The four kinds of statement (a,b,c &d) represent four different philosophical positions.
Working out your score

Count how many times you chose a), b), c) or d) as your first choice (ie the statement for which you gave the big tick).

The four positions are as follows:


  1. Animal Rights position. Animals should have a right to life, freedom and happiness. We shouldn’t kill them for food or imprison them in cages or pens.

  2. Animal Welfare position. We shouldn’t make animals suffer. If we eat animals, we must give them a good life and as kind a death as is possible.

  3. Environmental (conservationist / sustainable development) position. We must preserve the earth’s resources for future generations and prevent damage to the environment and wildlife.

  4. Anthropocentric (“humans come first”) position. Animals matter and we should avoid cruelty, but humans are more important. We need to look after people first.

This is about values

The four positions represent four different philosophies which are described in more detail over the page.

There is no right or wrong answer. You will find people from all walks of life who believe in any of these. It is a matter of values.

The one you choose most often is likely to be the closest to your position, but you may agree with more than one of these. Most people care about humans, animals and the environment.




This is about values

The four positions represent four different philosophies which are described in more detail over the page.

There is no right or wrong answer. You will find people from all walks of life who believe in any of these. It is a matter of values.

The one you choose most often is likely to be the closest to your position, but you may agree with more than one of these. Most people care about humans, animals and the environment.

The four philosophies in more detail:


  1. Animal Rights position. Animals have a right to life, freedom and happiness.

This is based on human rights philosophy. All individuals matter equally, irrespective of race, creed or colour. Animal rights thinking extend this principle beyond the species barrier. We are animals ourselves. Therefore, if it is wrong to do something to a human, you shouldn’t do it to an animal either.

Animal Rights people are against the exploitation of animals in general. This includes factory farming, long distance transport and inhumane slaughter. They also think it is wrong to kill animals for food and are likely to support vegetarian or vegan diets.




  1. Animal Welfare position. Animals should live good lives free from suffering. This is based on utilitarian philosophy as articulated by Jeremy Bentham in the late eighteenth century. Animals share with us a capacity to suffer and also for positive feelings or happiness. The priority is to prevent suffering.

Animals welfarists are not necessarily opposed to the killing of animals, provided the animals lead a good life in a higher welfare system such as free-range or organic. Animal welfarists generally oppose factory farming, long distance transport and inhumane slaughter. They are likely to support free-range and organic farming systems which are designed to meet the welfare needs of farm animals.


  1. Environmental/ conservationist/ sustainable development position. We don’t inherit the earth, we borrow it from our children.

Conservationists are concerned about protecting the planet and its systems for future generations of people and/ or wildlife. Unlike the previous positions, environmentalists may be less concerned about individual animals and more about the survival of species. Diverse gene pools and habitats.

They are likely to encourage people to eat less meat so that more land can be left for wildlife. They are likely to support low input and organic farming systems which reduce or avoid the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides which can damage biodiversity.




  1. Anthropocentric/ “humans come first” position. Humans are more important than animals.

Anthropocentrists see humans as the centre of the moral universe. They may oppose cruelty, but believe that where there is a conflict between the needs of humans and animals, humans come first. While there are humans suffering in the world, we should concentrate on them. They may support intensive farming as a practical way of feeding people. They may also see higher welfare production such as free-range or organic as a good thing where it promotes the rural economy. They might support eating less meat if they see this as a better way of feeding the world.
These positions are not mutually exclusive. Most people care about humans, other animals and the environment. There is no right or wrong answer. Your option will depend on your values.

Worksheet 9:

Should Animals have rights
What rights do animals have?


(For teachers’ reference)

Read the following and for each one, answer the questions which follow;


Hi, I’m Barry. You usually don’t see me about. OK, maybe sometimes at night in the dark – but I’ll be scuttling away from you as fast as I can. We live in the sewers – not pretty but it’s a living. Our homes are here, our families – those who manage to avoid you that is. But if we ever come near your homes – the horror! They’ll put down blue pellets for us. Don’t eat them – they expand inside you and burst your guts. It’s a long slow death. I’ve seen it. Trust me. When they don’t do that they sometimes use other chemicals which set your skin on fire. I’ve heard they even use flamethrowers, drowning, and now and again, the old fashioned traps which snap your neck – not always very cleanly. It’s funny being a rat. You even use the word as an insult. But you people, you keep hamsters and gerbils and mice. You clean them, feed them, enjoy watching them running round in their wheels which go nowhere. You hold them in your hand and stroke them. But not us. No. We are the diseased, the unclean. Contagious. We don’t deserve to live – even though it’s your dirt which we clean up for you. Filthy rat.

I have a lovely life here on the farm. I’m in beautiful green meadows all day long, basking in the sun. When it’s cold and grey, I can go into the shed and keep warm. Lots of yummy straw in there to eat. It’s cosy there with all my friends. Though some of the older ones, they’re gone now. They take them to a nicer place. They say it’s never cold there, and that the grass is always fresh - everlasting they say. They say that you should look forward to it because it’s your reward for all your years of giving milk. It’s where you’ll meet your calves. The ones they took there to grow up for when you meet them again. It’ll be good to see them again. I’ve had six of them – one more or less every year. They say that if you don’t have a calf you’ll stop giving milk. That wouldn’t be so good. I remember the names I gave to my calves. Funny enough they were all male. Some of the female calves get to stay here and give milk too. They don’t get to go to the nice place with the everlasting grass – what a shame. There’s even a name for the place we go, sounds very posh… abbatoir. I can’t wait. I wonder if all animals go there……?





Questions


  1. Describe the problems facing each animal.

For Barry the hamster, it lives in a confined drawer and suffers from various tortures in the form of tests such as receiving pellets and experiencing fire and harmful chemicals.

For the cow, she is fed well to give milk for year until she is slaughtered. Frequent pregnancies have been arranged so that she can continue to give milk for years. She cannot take care of her calves because they have been taken away.
(Or other reasonable answers)



  1. When compared with other pets, what rights do you think these animals are being deprived of?

Right to be treated humanely, such as living a life without unnecessary pain and tortures. They are treated as tools to meet the needs of human beings.


(Or other reasonable answers)

Worksheet 10: Arguments for or against using animals for food and experimentation

(For teachers’ reference)

  1. Gather some arguments for or against using animals for food and experimentation at home. (Substantiate your points after hearing your fellow classmates’ presentations)




For

Against

Eating animals


No ‘animal rights’

Some scholars (e.g. Carl Cohen) argue that animals have no rights, for only human beings are self-legislative and morally autonomous. Animals lack this capacity for free moral judgement.




Teleology

Some philosophers (e.g. Aristotle) believe that ‘nature has made all things specifically for the sake of man’ and that the value of non-human things in nature is merely instrumental. Some animals are raised just for food.


As stated in the Bible, ‘One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables… All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.’ (Romans 14:2 & 20). It allows us to eat all food, including animals.

Animal rights & interests


Animal have rights to live, to be free from fear & pain, to eat a natural diet, to live healthy lives without needing medical intervention etc.

Deontology


Raising and killing animals for food uses them as a means to human gratification, it does not treat them respectfully as ends in themselves.

Utilitarianism


Raising and killing animals for food is cruel and so reduces the total amount of goodness in the world. Therefore if everyone was a vegetarian, the total amount of goodness in the world would be higher.



Theory of virtue

Being generous, kind and compassionate to animals is virtuous.


Consequentialism

Eating meat is a significant cause of pollution, because raising animals for consumption requires large amounts of fertilizer and other chemicals and because the animals themselves generate contaminated waste.




Experimenting on animals

Human right


Human has the right to live healthy lives without using new drugs which are not tested or proven safe.

Human has right to dominate other animals



Utilitarianism


Animal experiments can produce great benefits for all mankind but be harmful for just a few animals.

Furthermore, the harmfulness to animals can be minimized by applying the ‘2 Rs’ principles – Reduction (reducing the number of animals used in experiments), Refinement (Refining the experiment or the way the animals are cared for so as to reduce their suffering).



Theory of value

The value of human life and health go beyond other animals’.




Animal rights & interests


(Same as above)
Acts and omissions

Most ethicists think that that it is morally worse to do harm by doing something (e.g. harming the animals by experimenting on them) than to do harm by not doing something (e.g. not doing an experiment that might find a cure for human disease).



Deontology


Experimenting on animals is always unacceptable because it causes suffering to animals. Using animals as a tool to find a cure is unethical.
Consequentialism

The benefits to human beings by animal testing are not proven. Some cures effective in animal testing may not be equally beneficial for human, or even cause unpredictable serious side-effects in human.



(Or other reasonable answers)

References:

  • https://books.google.com.hk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=shSmG2-J7nAC&oi=fnd&pg=PA206&dq=arguments+for+or+against+using+animals+for+food+and+experimentation&ots=FFiYopSTly&sig=QSLNcCK82nj6AKoRBkc9bIVpzvg&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false

  • http://0-go.galegroup.com.edlis.ied.edu.hk/ps/retrieve.do?isETOC=true&inPS=true&prodId=GVRL&userGroupName=hkioel&resultListType=RELATED_DOCUMENT&contentSegment=9780737752670&docId=GALE|CX3021100015

  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/animals/using/eating_1.shtml

  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/animals/using/experiments_1.shtml

  • https://www.morehouse.edu/facstaff/nnobis/papers/Journal-of-Applied-Phil-Cohen.pdf



  1. Role-play: Listen to the viewpoints of the spokesmen. Note down their views, and analyze their stands in the table below.

Role

Attitude towards using animals for food and experimentation

Challenging level (optional)

Your critiques

Buddhist

*for / against





Animal rights activist

*for / against




Meat manufacturer

*for / against




Scientist

*for / against







  1. Challenging level (optional): a) Do you think it is possible to value things in a non humancentred perspective? That is, as human beings, can we infer what animals think or feel?


b) Some people criticize that we should not bother too much about animal rights because there are places that even human rights are not respected. Attention should be given to this area instead. Do you agree?

(Any reasonable answers)


Worksheet 11 : Summary & Self-evaluation – Biodiversity and conservation
Write down the key learning points of this module.

  1. Instrumental and intrinsic value of nature: maintenance of ecological balance and biodiversity

1.


2.


3.


4.


5.




  1. Importance of conservation to environmental protection

1.


2.


3.


4.


5.





  1. Arguments for or against using animals for food and experimentation

1.


2.


3.


4.


5.



Evaluate how well you have learnt (please put a ‘’)




Very good

Good

Fair

Poor

  1. Instrumental and intrinsic value of nature: maintenance of ecological balance and biodiversity













  1. Importance of conservation to environmental protection













  1. Arguments for or against using animals for food and experimentation














What question(s)/area(s) you want to learn more in this module of ‘Biodiversity and conservation’?








1 Former US Vice-president, climate change activist and laureate of Nobel Peace Price 2007.

2 Refer to http://www.ask.com/science/environmental-conservation-important-8051203e35763b4f.




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