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The Rights of Animals: A Very Short Primer

20 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2002  

Cass R. Sunstein

Harvard Law School; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: August 2002

Abstract

Do animals have rights? Almost everyone believes in animal rights, at least in some minimal sense; the real question is what that phrase actually means. By exploring that question, it is possible to give a clear sense of the lay of the land - to show the range of possible positions, and to explore what issues, of theory or fact, separate reasonable people. On reflection, the spotlight should be placed squarely on the issue of suffering and well-being. This position requires rejection of some of the most radical claims by animal rights advocates, especially those that stress the "autonomy" of animals, or that object to any human control and use of animals. But this position has radical implications of its own. It strongly suggests, for example, that there should be extensive regulation of the use of animals in entertainment, in scientific experiments, and in agriculture. It also suggests that there is a strong argument, in principle, for bans on many current uses of animals.

Keywords: regulation, animal rights, animals in research

Suggested Citation

Sunstein, Cass R., The Rights of Animals: A Very Short Primer (August 2002). U Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 157; U of Chicago, Public Law Research Paper No. 30. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=323661 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.323661

Cass Sunstein (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts Ave
Areeda Hall 225
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-2291 (Phone)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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