Topic 4: Animal Welfare

Objectives

This week’s theme is on animal welfare. An important cause area in Effective Altruism, animal welfare is very great in scale and relatively neglected. The largest subset of causes in this area is in factory farming, as it entails the largest number of animals. The estimated reading time is approximately 50 minutes.  

Note that this week, you will discuss these readings in-depth at a group discussion with fellow mentees. 

Essential readings (expected reading time 50min)

Firstly, for a brief introduction to speciesism, and why we should expand our moral circle to consider animals, see this article from the EA Foundation. (10 min) 

The Guardian article ‘Industrial farming is one of the worst crimes in history' (8 min) builds on these ideas by addressing factory farming, and its ethical implications. A related, very comprehensive article is Factory farming (3 min), an 80,000 Hours problem profile on factory farming.  

The next step is to look at the article ‘Effective strategies to reduce animal suffering' (10 min), which not only analyses the problem, but also thinks about the most effective ways to make progress on the issue. Approaches outside of changing consumer behaviour are discussed.  

Finally, the article ‘Logic of the larder' (2 min) is a short discussion on whether reducing demand for animal products reduces overall animal suffering. 

Optional readings

Why Farmed Animals? (5 min) explores why addressing farmed animals is probably the most important approach to reducing animal suffering. 

For more in-depth information about animal ethics, including resources on sentience and wild animal suffering, visit the Animal ethics website (20 min). For a brief summary of speciesism, go to The Case Against Speciesism (7 min). 

Crucial considerations in wild animal suffering (30 min) is a talk addressing wild animal suffering, and The Importance of Wild-Animal Suffering is a more extensive article (30 min).