Animal ethics is an intricate topic. Ethical issues are part of study fields such as applied ethology, but increasing attention is coming from the growing public awareness regarding the life of nonhuman animals. Attention concerning the Animal Question – referring to the necessary awareness of how animals are treated and morally considered and the necessity to evolve – is more and more of concern of various study fields. There is an emerging need to create better conditions of life for non-humans in interaction with humans, as well as to develop full recognition of their moral status.
The argument regarding how animals are treated is made more complex by the deep routed human habits, practices and beliefs that have been taken for granted for a long time. From a philosophical point of view, this raises essential concerns about the foundation of moral rights. Philosophers question the position animals have in an acceptable moral system. Currently, animals exist on a norm of human moral concepts. Consequently, sometimes people find themselves granting the animals a strong ethical status; while at other times they deny them any kind of ethical status at all.
This is partially caused by a normative/functional approach to ethics, rather than using ethics, or learning from ethics, as guidance towards change and growth. Translating ethical theories into practice still has a bridge to overcome.