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Open Access The Measurability of Subjective Animal Welfare

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This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY licence.

One of the most challenging questions surrounding subjective animal welfare is whether these states are measurable: that is, is subjective welfare an appropriately quantifiable target for scientific enquiry and ethical and deliberative calculation? The availability of several different types of measurement scale raises important questions regarding whether subjective experience has the right properties to be meaningfully represented on the types of scale required for different applications. This methodological question has so far received scant attention in the animal welfare literature. In this paper, I address this omission by examining the types of measurement scale we can reasonably expect to apply to animal welfare measurements, and which we will actually need for our applications. I argue that our different applications will require variously ordinal, interval, and ratio scales, and that we have sufficient reason to believe that subjective welfare is a target with the appropriate characteristics to justify the practice of representing it using each of these types of scales.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: London School of Economics and Political Science, Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE, UK

Publication date: March 1, 2022

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