A Short History of (Mostly) Western Animal Law Part I

40 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2019

Date Written: 2012


This Article, presented in two parts, travels through animal law from ancient Babylonia to the present, analyzing examples of laws from the ancient, medieval, Renaissance and Enlightenment, recent modern, and modern historical periods. In performing this analysis, particular attention is focused on the primary motives and purposes behind these laws. What is discovered is that there has been a historical progression in the primary motives under- lying animal laws in these different periods. While economic and religious motives dominate the ancient and medieval periods, in the Renaissance and Enlightenment we see social engineering — efforts to change human behavior — come to the fore. In the recent modern period, we finally see protecting animals for their own sakes, animal protection, motivating animal law. In our present historical period there is a movement towards what is defined as “scientific animal welfare”—the use of modern animal welfare science as the inspiration for animal laws and regulations. Does this historical trend to- ward use of modern science in making animal law portend a change that may transform our relationship with animals? Modern science tells us that many animals have substantial cognitive abilities and rich emotional lives, and this science would seem to lead us to question the use of animals in agriculture, experimentation, and entertainment altogether. It is ultimately concluded in this Article, however, that so far only a very narrow science of animal welfare is actually being applied in modern animal protection laws and regulations, one that proceeds from a premise that present uses of animals are legally, ethically, and morally appropriate. It is only in the future that the true implications of modern science may ever be translated into legal reality.

Keywords: History of Animal Law, Animal Law, Modern Science and Animals, Scientific Animal Welfare

Suggested Citation

Kelch, Thomas, A Short History of (Mostly) Western Animal Law Part I (2012). Animal Law Review, Vol. 19, 2012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3490300

Thomas Kelch (Contact Author)

Whittier Law School ( email )

4015 pacific ave
Long Beach, CA 90807
United States
(562) 997-0433 (Phone)

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