This paper describes the shift in the relationship between humans and animals, which has taken place over the last 100 years or so. It is meant as a basis for discussion concerning how to look at and deal with animals in the future.
Through a historical perspective the article describes the traditional focus of the animal debate, which was driven by the motivation to avoid cruelty against animals. Later, the industrialisation put extreme pressure on animals in order to produce cheap products for an increasingly wealthy population. Also our attitude to pets and wild animals changed, in fact, humans tend to regard these animals completely different than livestock. As a result, companion animals are viewed as friends and wild animals as beings with a right of their own to exist.
Eventually the development lead to an increasing number of new ideas and movements in the 1970s focusing on the abolition of various forms of animal use. Today a number of ideas about animals use exist in various combinations in modern society, but the debate will be between those who think it is acceptable to use animals as long as their welfare is looked after properly and those who are – in principle – against the use of animals. This debate will significantly influence the way human keep various domestic animals and the management of wildlife.The changing face of animal ethics – where are we heading? [External link]