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Utrecht, Netherlands

Bovenkerk B.,Ethics Institute | Meijboom F.L.B.,Ethics Institute
Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics | Year: 2013

Aquaculture is the fastest growing animal-production sector in the world. This leads to the question how we should guarantee fish welfare. Implementing welfare standards presupposes that we know how to weigh, define, and measure welfare. While at first glance these seem empirical questions, they cannot be answered without ethical reflection. Normative assumptions are made when weighing, defining, and measuring welfare. Moreover, the focus on welfare presupposes that welfare is a morally important concept. This in turn presupposes that we can define the capacities of fish, which is an empirical undertaking that informs and is informed by ethical theories about the moral status of animals. In this article we want to illustrate the need for a constant interaction between empirical scientific research and ethics, in which both fields of research make their own contribution. This is not a novel claim. However, the case of fish sheds new light on this claim, because regarding fish there is still much empirical uncertainty and there is a plurality of moral views on all levels. Therefore, we do not only want to show the necessity of this interaction, but also the added value of a cooperation between ethicists and empirical scientists, such as biologists, physiologists, and ethologists. We demonstrate this by considering the different steps in the process of reflection about and implementation of fish welfare. © 2012 The Author(s). Source

Bovenkerk B.,Ethics Institute | Meijboom F.L.B.,Ethics Institute
Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics | Year: 2012

As the world population is growing and government directives tell us to consume more fatty acids, the demand for fish is increasing. Due to declines in wild fish populations, we have come to rely more and more on aquaculture. Despite rapid expansion of aquaculture, this sector is still in a relatively early developmental stage. This means that this sector can still be steered in a favorable direction, which requires discussion about sustainability. If we want to avoid similar problems to the ones we have experienced with livestock farming, we need to generate knowledge of the biology, profitability, environmental aspects, consumer awareness, and product appreciation of particular fish species. However, the discussion about a sustainable aquaculture also raises the question how we should treat fish. This moral question is regularly addressed as a problem of applied ethics with a focus on tailoring ethical principles to practical questions. In this article we do not deny the importance of the practical accounts, but we start from the fundamental question whether and why fish matter in our moral deliberations, i. e., from the discussion on moral status. We elaborate the distinction between moral considerability and moral significance in order to show both the importance and the limitations of the discussion about moral status for practical problems in aquaculture. We illustrate these points with a case-study about the farming of a specific fish species, the African catfish. © 2011 The Author(s). Source

Agency: Narcis | Branch: Project | Program: Completed | Phase: Humanities | Award Amount: | Year: 2002

The process of dying has changed substantially during the last century, in which infectious disease as the main cause of death has been replaced by degenerative disease in mostly elderly patients. The growing involvement of medicine with dying has gradually made death a medical event. During the last decade many high quality studies, from The Netherlands and elsewhere, have contributed to end-of-life care as a new area of medical research. Fundamental to high quality medical care at the end of life is that the patients disease trajectory and the patients goals of care are understood. This project is aimed at providing empirical data on the terminal stage of disease, and the preceding period during which the physician and, usually somewhat later, the patient at some time come to recognize that the disease will be fatal in the foreseeable future. Determinants of (transitions in) the quality of life in subsequent stages of lethal disease will be studied, from the perspective of the patient and the physician, as well as the consequences of such transitions for the goals of medical care and medical decision making at the end of life. Finally, the effects on population health of current practices in end-of-life decision making will be analyzed. The data will be collected by prospectively following up and interviewing cancer patients, by performing a survey among the general public and by interviewing physicians about their experiences and attitudes. The results of the project will provide information about the extent to which the quality of the last phase in life, including the dying process, is associated with factors that are known to have an impact on the incidence and outcome of disease in general, such as age, socio-economic circumstances, psychosocial status, and health-related behavior, and into the transitions people go through after a diagnosis of serious or lethal disease. The resulting insight into potentially avoidable factors associated with end-of-life suffering as opposed to factors that are irreversible or not amenable to medical care and into the patients goals and expectancies contributes to rational and high-quality medical care for seriously ill patients.

Agency: Narcis | Branch: Project | Program: Completed | Phase: Humanities | Award Amount: | Year: 1999


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