SOPhiA 2017

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Choosing Methods in Animal Welfare Science: Entanglements Between Ideals and Good Practice
(Philosophy of Science, English)

Animal welfare scientists have developed a wide array of methods to assess animal welfare. The validation of methods is considered a key factor to fulfil quality requirements of both good science and husbandry application. Besides validation status, concepts and methodological presumptions also influence the choice of methods. In scientific journals, conceptual papers address this topic; however, original research papers that present empirical data rarely specify their underlying concepts. Moreover, the authors seldom describe their reasons and justifications for choosing a particular method over another. Therefore, two questions remain a matter of interpretation: how much influence upon their daily research do scientists ascribe to concepts and methodological presumptions? How do concepts and methodological presumptions shape the evolvement of the methodical spectrum?

This interdisciplinary research paper approaches these questions by taking statements of scientists as its methodological starting point. It combines an empirical enquiry with meta-theoretical analysis. Structured guideline interviews were conducted with eight senior researchers in order to investigate prevalent explanatory models among scientific practitioners. The objectives of the interview analysis were firstly to explicate the criteria for the choice of methods, secondly to identify those criteria which may legitimate a method as being established, and thirdly to describe reasons for discrepancy between ideal and factual procedures.
The more recent the welfare concept favoured by the interviewees was, the more they acknowledged conceptual influences in general, whereas the role of methodological presumptions, such as scientific paradigms, remained a largely unrecognised issue. However, a challenge to this implicit bias poses the Qualitative Behaviour Assessment mentioned by most of the interviewees, a method explicitly elaborated on a philosophical basis.

Chair: Gregor Greslehner
Time: 17:25-17:55, 13 September 2017 (Wednesday)
Location: SR 1.006

Birgit Benzing 
(Kassel, Germany)

My research interests combines philosophical and biological questions which I pursue both in the philosophy of science and ethics. I am interested in the interplay between scientific requirements and procedures on the one side and values (both scientific and societal) on the other side. I investigate this relationship employing animal welfare science, which struggles between the epistemological values of ''hard science'' and the needs of applied science. Conservation offers another a field of science that intensively deals with complex scientific and ethical questions. Both research topics include questions about the relation between humans and other animals.

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