Androcles’ philosophy explores the basic principles underlying veterinary medicine and animal health sciences. This cannot be explored without looking at the significance of animals in our society. Animals have many roles, from companion animals to sport animals, as laboratory animals for scientific purposes and as animals for food production. The complex relationships of animals with science, people, society, especially the economy and even ecosystems make their position precarious. As our time places high demands on the health and welfare of animals, for both their own good and that of humans, there is an urgent need to reflect on our scientific capabilities to solve and expand these challenges. Finally, the author discusses the social significance of the profession. The profession of veterinary medicine and animal science is unique in that good animal health and welfare serves a multitude of interests and values, ranging from individual animal welfare to human health, ecosystem health and a range of economic interests. To meet so many and so diverse, sometimes conflicting needs, the veterinarian has to be an equilibrist. The author argues that the profession can acquire its greatest significance by ensuring an optimal peaceful coexistence between humans and animals. This means that animals can optimally fulfil their meaning for people without their well-being or quality of life suffering. To this end, veterinary medicine must rest on a solid scientific philosophical foundation.
TJEERD KIMMAN has been a practicing veterinarian and has held research and management positions at the Central Veterinary Institute (CVI) and the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) in the Netherlands. He advised the government on combating infectious diseases, was a member of the Dutch Commission for Genetic Modification and chaired the Research Committee of the CVI.