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Valuing Farm Animal Welfare in a Market Economy: A Philosophical Study of Market Failure

VENTIN, MARCUS (2020) Valuing Farm Animal Welfare in a Market Economy: A Philosophical Study of Market Failure. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Do people in the UK care about farm animal welfare? How well are their concerns represented in society? How can we use economic policy to build a society that reflects public attitudes towards farm animals and their welfare?

In this thesis, I contend that markets in animal products – which facilitate many people’s quotidian interactions with farm animal welfare – are susceptible to four forms of market failure: externalities, public good problems, information asymmetries and uncompetitive consumer behaviour. I analyse how these market failures can subvert the expression of altruistic preferences and prevent markets from reflecting the public’s concern for farm animal welfare, before considering how policymakers can address these market failures.

I conclude that preference satisfaction theories of utility and welfare do not provide a suitable grounding for economic farm animal welfare policy, which should instead seek to ensure that public values are appropriately represented in society. I develop a policy framework that draws upon public values and facts about farm animal welfare in society to assist policymakers in this work.

Where the public is almost universally opposed to certain husbandry practices, government intervention to directly protect farm animal welfare is likely to be in almost everyone’s interests, and animal welfare should be viewed as a public good. Where significant groups of people are opposed to the use of certain practices, market intervention through externality policies may be justified as a means of affording greater representation to the public’s altruistic concern for farm animal welfare: farm animal welfare should be viewed as a merit good in these cases. Where public values are largely represented in society, farm animal welfare should be treated as a private good: policymakers should empower consumers to express any further dissatisfaction towards animal agriculture through market mechanisms.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Philosophy, Department of
Thesis Date:2020
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:05 Aug 2020 11:00

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