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Animal Ethics, Rights, and Law: A Basic Bibliography

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This article was published in the Animal Liberation Philosophy and Policy Journal (2.2) in 2004. Here is how it was introduced by the editors: Another controversial and important issue is explored in Lisa Kemmerer‟s essay, “Hunting Tradition: Treaties, Law, and Subsistence Killing.” Kemmerer evaluates North American “subsistence traditions” that hunt animals as an important part of their culture and identities. Looking at rapid changes in these traditions due to modernization, Kemmerer analyzes the discontinuity between the traditional ways and the “ancient ethic” and contemporary lifestyles, worldviews, and practices. As she shows, many “subsistence tradition” cultures such as the Makah Indians have lost their original identities and only simulate the lifeworld of their distant ancestors. They hunt and fish with modern technologies as they kill animals in unsustainable ways. Kemmerer undertakes an important analysis of the meaning of “tradition,” drawing a distinction between “a continuance of old traditions” and the emergence of a “new tradition,” such that the latter requires a new legitmation for killing animals that is wanting. She concludes that in the contemporary, non-subsistence world there is no longer a need to kill, and so “harvesting” whales, shooting wolves, trapping fish and the like can no longer be justified. Kemmerer thus calls into question the validity of existing legal treaties protecting the hunting and fishing rights of “subsistence traditions” and calls for policy changes. She dispenses with romantic nostalgia for earlier cultures by showing changes in their society, the level of their killing, and often a lack of respect for life that would appall their ancestors. Kemmerer seeks to avoid ethnocentrism, but without succumbing to a relativism that strips the animal rights advocate of any grounds to criticize “traditional” hunting practices as wrong.
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Traditionally, sociology has spent much more time exploring relationships between humans, than between humans and other animals. However, this relative neglect is starting to be addressed. For sociologists interested in human identity construction, animals are symbolically important in functioning as a highly complex and ambiguous “other”. Theoretical work analyses the blurring of the human-animal boundary as part of wider social shifts to postmodernity, whilst ethnographic research suggests that human and animal identities are not fixed but are constructed through interaction. After reviewing this literature, the second half of the paper concentrates on animals in science and shows how here too, animals (rodents and primates in particular) are symbolically ambiguous. In the laboratory, as in society, humans and animals have unstable identities. New genetic and computer technologies have attracted much sociological attention, and disagreements remain about the extent to which humananimal boundaries are fundamentally challenged. The value of sociologists’ own categories has also been challenged, by those who argue that social scientists still persist in ignoring the experiences of animals themselves. This opens up notoriously difficult questions about animal agency. The paper has two main aims: First, to draw links between debates about animals in society and animals in science; and second, to highlight the ways in which sociologists interested in animals may benefit from approaches in Science and Technology Studies (STS).
Article
The question of whether sociologists should investigate the subjective experience of non-human others arises regularly in discussions of research on animals. Recent criticism of this research agenda as speculative and therefore unproductive is examined and found wanting. Ample evidence indicates that animals have the capacity to see themselves as objects, which meets sociological criteria for selfhood. Resistance to this possibility highlights the discipline’s entrenched anthropocentrism rather than lack of evidence. Sociological study of the moral status of animals, based on the presence of the self, is warranted because our treatment of animals is connected with numerous “mainstream” sociological issues. As knowledge has brought other forms of oppression to light, it has also helped to challenge and transform oppressive conditions. Consequently, sociologists have an obligation to challenge speciesism as part of a larger system of oppression.
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This paper argues that sociology should begin to turn its attention to human-animal interaction and that one particularly effective way to do so is to adopt a phenomenological approach. This approach sees the personality, and thus the personhood of animals, as intersubjectively and reflexively created. Based on ethnographic data collected over three years in animal sanctuaries this paper assesses how animal sanctuary workers labour collectively to establish the identity of the animals under their care and how this, in turn, justifies their attitudes towards, and treatment of, them.
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The Western world is currently gripped by an obsessive concern for the rights of animals - their uses and abuses. In this book, Leahy argues that this is a movement based upon a series of fundamental misconceptions about the basic nature of animals. This is a radical philosophical questioning of prevailing views on animal rights, which credit animals with a self-consciousness like ours. Leahy's conclusions have implications for issues such as bloodsports, meat eating and fur trading.
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First Published in 2003. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
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This book, written by leading academics and activists, examines the development of animal rights over the past two decades and asks where the issue goes from here. The contributions cover animal rights philosophy, strategies of the animal rights movement, the treatment of animals in specific contexts and the political arena within which animal advocates must operate. The unifying theme is provided by an emerging debate about the future direction of the animal protection movement, and, in particular, about the utility of using rights language as a means of achieving further progress.
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Preface 1. On the Relative Unimportance of Human Interests 1.1. Setting the Stage 1.2. What Do We mean When We Say that Human Interests are More Significant than Animal Interests? 1.3. Does the Cosmos Inform Us that Human Interests are More Significant than Animal Interests? 1.4. Should Humans Consider Human Interests More Significant than Animal Interests? 2. On the Relative Unimportance of Human Life 2.1. Setting the Stage 2.2. The Disvalue of Death Argument 2.3. Why Your Death is Less Important than You Think 2.4. The Problem With Valuing Capacities 2.5. From Preservation to Creation 2.6. Mill's Argument Conclusion
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Acknowledgements Animals and the Law: The Basics Anti-Cruelty Laws Animal Welfare Laws Animal Control and Management Laws Animals, the Constitution and the Private Law The Future: Animals as Subjects, An-All-Inclusive Legal Regime Notes and References Index
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Unanswered questions about the precise psychological abilities of laboratory animals inevitably result in a degree of uncertainty about the nature and magnitude of the suffering likely to result from invasive procedures and protocols. It has been theorised that only those species with brain structures such as a cerebral cortex and thalamus and the capacity for synaptic feedback between the two have the capacity for sentience (Butler 2000). If true, this would include most vertebrates, with the possible exception of chondrichthyes (sharks and rays) and cyclostomes (lampreys and hagfish), but not invertebrates. Although many invertebrates display complex behaviour, there is little evidence of brain structures comparable to those believed to support consciousness in higher animals (Nicol 2010). Cephalopods, however, display electroencephalogram patterns (i.e. electrical activity or ‘brainwaves’) similar to those associated with differing wake-sleep states of consciousness in vertebrates (Edelman & Seth 2009), demonstrating their possible sentience, and also the limits of our understanding about what neuroanatomical mechanisms are necessary for sentience, and about which animals possess them, and to what degree.
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How should political communities govern their relations with animals? Are animals owed justice? What might justice for animals involve? Alasdair Cochrane introduces the most prominent schools in contemporary political theory – utilitarianism, liberalism, communitarianism, Marxism and feminism – and examines their implications for issues such as meat-eating, intensive agriculture, animal experimentation, religious slaughter and hunting. An introduction to animals and political theory explores the debates and discusses controversies over what makes an entity worthy of justice: is it rationality, the ability to contribute to society, sentience, or something else? It also introduces and engages with debates about what our political obligations to animals might entail: is it simply not to cause them unnecessary suffering, or do we have much more demanding obligations not to kill, own, or even use non-human animals?
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The position I favor (the “rights view”) prioritizes the moral rights of individuals when it comes to our moral thinking. Some defining features of these rights are explained; reasons for recognizing them in the case of humans are advanced; and arguments for extending them to other-than-human animals are sketched. Several objections are considered, including those that dispute the rights view’s alleged inability to explain (1) the amorality of predator-prey relations and (2) our obligations to preserve rare and endangered species.
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I analyze the "Sportsman's Code," arguing that several of its rules presuppose a respect for animals that renders hunting a prima facie wrong. I summarize the main arguments used to justify hunting and consider them in relation to the prima facie case against hunting entailed by the sportsman's code. Sport hunters, I argue, are in a paradoxical position - the more conscientiously they follow the code, the more strongly their behavior exemplifies a respect for animals that undermines the possibilities of justifying hunting altogether. I consider several responses, including embracing the paradox, renouncing the code, and renouncing hunting.
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What does American pragmatism contribute to contemporary debates about human-animal relationships? Does it acknowledge our connections to all living things? Does it bring us closer to an ethical treatment of all animals? What about hunting, vegetarianism, animal experimentation, and the welfare of farm animals? While questions about human relations with animals have been with us for millennia, there has been a marked rise in public awareness about animal issues -- even McDonald's advertises that they use humanely treated animals as food sources. In Animal Pragmatism, 12 lively and provocative essays address concerns at the intersection of pragmatist philosophy and animal welfare. Topics cover a broad range of issues, including moral consideration of animals, the ethics of animal experimentation, institutional animal care, environmental protection of animal habitat, farm animal welfare, animal communication, and animal morals. Readers who interact with animals, whether as pets or on a plate, will find a robust and fascinating exploration of human-nonhuman relationships. Contributors are James M. Albrecht, Douglas R. Anderson, Steven Fesmire, Glenn Kuehn, Todd Lekan, Andrew Light, John J. McDermott, Erin McKenna, Phillip McReynolds, Ben Minteer, Matthew Pamental, Paul Thompson, and Jennifer Welchman.
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I address the ethical treatment of animals from a Heideggerian perspective. My argument proceeds in two stages. First, it is necessary to develop a nonanthropocentric concept of freedom which extends beyond the sphere of human interests. Second, it is essential to show that our capacity to speak must serve the diverse ends of "dwelling," and hence can be properly exercised only by balancing the interests of animals with those of our own. Rather than point to naturalistic similarities between humans and animals (e.g., the capacity to feel pain), or even ontological ones (e.g., the shared dimension of "care" [Sorge]), the better strategy lies in expanding the scope of moral agency in a way which allows the differences between humans and animals to suggest guidelines as to why the former should exhibit benevolence toward the latter. In this way, I show that the basic percepts of Heidegger's philosophy support an ethic which can attend to, and speak in behalf of, the welfare of animals.
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I critique the oppressive society in which Michael A. Fox's Deep Vegetarianism was written and which Fox too attempts to criticize and change. Fox proves himself to be among a handful of Western philosophers open-minded enough to acknowledge and attempt to learn from North American indigenous values and world views. For this reason, he should be commended. In defending his thesis that a vegetarian life style is morally preferable, he draws upon indigenous thought, feminist philosophy, and antidomination theories, arguing that speciesism, racism, and sexism can all be traced back to the same mind-set of oppression, domination and exploitation. Unfortunately, identifying the oppressive mind-set is not ipso facto escaping it. I show that Fox in his explication and use of indigenous thought actually perpetuates the very oppression and exploitation he argues against.
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The book is about three things. First, how Ancient thinkers perceived humans as like or unlike other animals; second about the justification for taking a humane attitude towards natural things; and third about how moral claims count as true, and how they can be discovered or acquired. Was Aristotle was right to see continuity in the psychological functions of animal and human souls? The question cannot be settled without taking a moral stance. As we can either focus on continuity or on discontinuities, how should natural science draw the boundaries? Moral agents act and react in a world that they see under a certain description, and there is no value free science that can settle what is the correct description. This book asks us to think about where moral justification could come from, and suggests that the supposed 'moral status' of the object cannot provide the answer. For the moral status of the object is a product of our own imagination, and once we see that, we also see that there remains the question where we ought to have the will to see it. Furthermore, since the perception of moral truth involves the development of imagination and will, the means to attain it will be better served by engagement with poetry and literature than with enquiries that seek to exclude the engagement of the imagination, or any appeal to the beauty of nature or the love of one's fellow creatures.
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This groundbreaking volume explores Plutarch's unique survival in the argument that animals are rational and sentient, and that we, as humans, must take notice of their interests.
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A balanced, accessible discussion of whether and on what grounds animal research can be ethically justified. © 2012 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. All rights reserved.
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Alasdair Cochrane introduces an entirely new theory of animal rights grounded in their interests as sentient beings. He then applies this theory to different and underexplored policy areas, such as genetic engineering, pet-keeping, indigenous hunting, and religious slaughter. In contrast to other proponents of animal rights, Cochrane claims that because most sentient animals are not autonomous agents, they have no intrinsic interest in liberty. As such, he argues that our obligations to animals lie in ending practices that cause their suffering and death and do not require the liberation of animals. Cochrane’s “interest-based rights approach” weighs the interests of animals to determine which is sufficient to impose strict duties on humans. In so doing, Cochrane acknowledges that sentient animals have a clear and discernable right not to be made to suffer and not to be killed, but he argues that they do not have a prima facie right to liberty. Because most animals possess no interest in leading freely chosen lives, humans have no moral obligation to liberate them. Moving beyond theory to the practical aspects of applied ethics, this pragmatic volume provides much-needed perspective on the realities and responsibilities of the human-animal relationship.