High-quality, applied research is essential to protecting and improving the elements that are most important to human flourishing – our health, our economy, our environment and our quality of life. How humans affect the wellbeing of billions of other animals requires – and deserves – the same rigorous analysis. Thus, the CASJ will promote and utilise research into animal protection issues, consciously aiming to achieve social impacts.
Within the UK and the European Union, there is a broad social consensus that the conscious infliction of pain and suffering on animals, at the very least, poses serious ethical costs. The implication of this position is that a world in which animals are not subjected to pain and harm by humankind is a desirable ultimate goal. Government statements and public opinion both agree that how we treat animals is an important measure of the state of society. These social values are buttressed by a strong philosophical case for animal protection based on mainstream analytical ethics. Animal protection enjoys an impressive intellectual heritage which is manifest in burgeoning research activity by sympathetic academics across an increasingly diverse range of disciplines.
However, these compassionate and rational principles are failing to translate into practical action. Every year in the UK alone, almost a billion animals are raised and slaughtered for food and endure significant suffering. Three and a half million animals are subjected to experiments likely to cause pain, suffering, distress and lasting harm. Other captive, wild and even companion animals receive inadequate legal and practical protection, leading to significant impairment of their wellbeing through neglect or cruelty. There is a serious mismatch between, on the one hand, society’s ethical ideals regarding animals and, on the other hand, the damagingly low level of protection they actually receive. The CASJ’s goal is to research the causes of this paradox, and work to resolve it.
Those causes include the strong influence on human behaviour of social environment and traditional beliefs in comparison to rational reflection. Other sources of animal suffering are government policy processes that are dominated by industries that cause harm to animals, to the exclusion of animal welfare. If the moral aspiration to avoid causing pain and suffering to animals is to be realised, they must be treated as a proper concern of social justice, with their protection acknowledged as a core goal of public policy. The CASJ will carry out high quality academic research, stimulate debate and engage with policymakers in order to promote these essential changes.