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Animals as Objects, or Subjects, of Rights

35 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2002  

Richard A. Epstein

New York University School of Law; Stanford University - Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace; University of Chicago - Law School

Date Written: December 2002

Abstract

From the earliest times, animals were understood as objects of human rights. That result did not depend on some limited understanding of their capabilities for cognition and sensation, but rather rested on the strong sense that without domestication human beings could not secure their own advancement. The modern claims for animal rights cannot therefore be justified by an appeal to some newer and deeper understanding of the subject, but must rest on the claim that what they share with human beings is more important than what separates them. Those common elements do justify some level of animal protection but does not justify the radical transformation of social institutions that would flow from the recognition, as Steven Wise has advocated, of the basic libertarian rights of freedom from human domination and exploitation.

Keywords: animal rights

Suggested Citation

Epstein, Richard A., Animals as Objects, or Subjects, of Rights (December 2002). U Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 171. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=359240 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.359240

Richard A. Epstein (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012
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(212) 992-8858 (Phone)
(212) 995-4894 (Fax)

Stanford University - Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace

Stanford, CA 94305-6010
United States

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-9563 (Phone)
773-702-0730 (Fax)

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