Animal Ethics Essay Prize on „The Suffering of Animals in Nature“

Animal Ethics invites submissions for the 1st Animal Ethics Essay Prize on the topic of the suffering of animals in nature and intervention in the wild: Animal Ethics is a nonprofit organization aimed at increasing concern and encouraging debate on the moral consideration of nonhuman animals in academia as well as among the general public.

The situation of animals in the wild is becoming a major issue in animal ethics today. Although according to a relatively common naïve view, animals in the wild live mostly good lives and natural processes are good simply because they are natural, there is increasing awareness that wild animals encounter many sources of suffering and early death, and that humans should acknowledge this as an object of moral concern.

Moreover, there are reasons to think the lives of most animals have more suffering than positive wellbeing. One reason for this is that most animals reproduce by having a huge number of offspring, while on average only one per parent survives. The others die shortly after coming into existence, often in painful ways, such as starvation or being killed by other animals. Their lives are so short that there is little wellbeing in them, while they include the suffering of the animals’ often painful and sometimes frightening deaths.

Although some human interventions in the wild can increase the harms animals suffer, many interventions can help to reduce them significantly. Many successful initiatives have already been implemented including wild animal rescues and vaccination and feeding programs. Other interventions on a larger scale may be developed as concern for nonhuman animals increases.

While this topic has often been neglected, the literature on it has been growing significantly in recent years. This prize aims to contribute to this by encouraging further research. We welcome submissions of unpublished essays up to 9,000 words, which are not under consideration with other journals. The winner will be awarded $1,500.

Essay topics may include:

· Estimates of the degree of sentience in animals (especially fishes and invertebrates) when they die, and studies in life history theory estimating the proportion that die shortly after coming into existence and at other ages.

· Case studies illustrating the structural causes of animals‘ suffering and early deaths in the wild.

· The relationship between sources of primary production and nutrient availability and nonhuman animal suffering.

· Factors affecting the predominance of r-strategists over K-strategists that can inform policies.

· Forms of intervention to help animals in the wild that do not cause more harm than good and that can be carried out effectively today on a small or medium scale.

· How large scale decisions or possible future trajectories could lead to greater or lesser amounts of harm for animals living in the wild.

· The development of welfare biology theory.

· Estimates of value and disvalue in the wild.

· Ethical arguments for intervention for the benefit of wild animals.

· Political theory and the issue of intervention to aid wild animals.

· Psychological reasons why people may not consider the harms wild animals suffer and support aiding them.

· How to increase research on these topics in academia.

· How to spread concern for wild animals and the idea that they should be helped, among the general public and animal advocates.

Since there are many possible topics, essays can have a wide range of approaches. Both strongly empirically-based and more speculative essays will be eligible for the prize. We welcome essays in natural science addressing applied welfare biology problems, in practical philosophy considering the arguments for helping animals in the wild, and in social science assessing how to better spread concern about this topic.

Contributions will be assessed with special consideration given to their potential impact, such as:

· Encouraging further academic work on the subjects of the suffering of wild animals and interventions in the wild.

· Increasing interest in the subjects among the general public and animal advocates.

· Informing policies aimed at reducing the harms that nonhuman animals suffer in the wild.

Contributions (in English) should be sent as email attachments to essay.prize (a ) animal-ethics . org, with the subject ‚Animals Ethics Essay Prize‘. Essays must not include self-identifying information. The author’s contact details and the name of the essay should appear only in the body of the email.

The deadline is December 15, 2015.

The winning essay will be chosen after a blind review process and announced during the first quarter of 2016. However, if none of the submitted essays meets an acceptable standard of quality, the prize will not be awarded.

If there are enough high quality submissions, authors will have the option of having their essays considered for inclusion in a book to be edited by Animal Ethics in which the winning essay will be published.